In our gender diversity challenge one of the findings was that men feel blamed. Many men feel they have been tarred with the same wire brush courtesy of the feminist movement and that women lump them together in one pile.
This puts men automatically on the defensive. Every time they hear the words “male dominated” they feel as if they are being blamed for something, they have no control over.
Women’s reaction – most women have witnessed or participated in, or even initiated some anti-male sentiment at work and they know it. In a world where the power balance has traditionally favoured men, women feel justified in such behaviour. It seems normal, even acceptable these days to have a stab at men, all in good humour.
But, a typical women’s reaction to these comments by men is that women see that comments like these don’t appear as harmless to men. They see that even if women consider that sort of behaviour harmless and acceptable, men don’t.
Why men feel blamed for being men
Women are always surprised to find that man feel blamed for being men.
What women consider a sort of teasing, equates to men as “blaming me for breathing”. So, just as they need to step out of their shoes, women need to step out of their shoes and start to look at their own behaviour from a man’s perspective – that’s only fair, isn’t it!
The insight for women – many men act this way without even realising it. But women hear the message. It reinforces some of their top challenges.
Nevertheless, women should avoid making sweeping generalisations about men, avoiding saying “all men are . . .” and treat men as individuals that are at different stages of awareness.
The insight for men – men need to speak up and challenge women when they feel they are being blamed for being men. Women do have a tendency to see patterns and speak globally about men when they feel they are victims of discrimination. Men should take a stand on this. They should tell women that they feel that they are being unfairly blamed – without blaming women in return.
So is it true? Are men really getting the short end of the stick in the working world? Are the new rules really working against them?
The only truth I am really interested in is men’s feelings and how these interact with the feelings of women.
After listening to many men talk about what it feels like to work with women, I can say with absolute certainty that they really do feel this way.
Men really are confused and they do feel that they have to be cautious when they are dealing with women. They really do feel they are being unfairly blamed for the way chauvinists have acted in the past and they really do feel that they are paying the price by becoming victims of a policy of reverse discrimination.
Women may not like what they hear but they have to accept that it is an accurate picture of how men feel and of course, women should listen to men – because men’s challenges shed light on a lot of the behaviour that women misinterpret as dismissive and exclusionary.
It’s not just that men feel blamed
See the other results from our challenge here:
- Men feel they have to be careful in the workplace
- Male allies feel confused in the workplace
- Men fear being accused of harassment
- Men perceive reverse discrimination
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