At the beginning of 2009, an event occurred that has brought me both joy and burdens: I became a research coder for the Woman Stats Project in the hope of informing others about the need to promote gender equality issues around the world. With excitement and enthusiasm I went out and told everyone of the new and gratifying work in which I was involved.
The reaction I have received has been mixed. I think this is because of the simple fact that I am a man who works for an institute that promotes gender equality. After explaining my job, young men I talk to react with either praise for attaining such a research position (that is, overlooking the gender issue and praising me for finding a job), while others look at me as if I have defected and joined the other team.
Women, also, have reacted quite strangely. Many are happy to see I am informed and working to promote the issues they feel are ignored. Other women feel that I am a far extreme feminist who, ironically, is promoting an ideal which I can never fully understand because I am a man.
Finally, the most common question I have received is whether or not I am homosexual. It has gotten to the point where I think not to tell people what I work on, or they will conclude I am homosexual!
The reality is that I am proud to be working on this project–in a sense, because of the reactions I have received. These reactions are evidence that much about gender issues are misunderstood–many think I should not be a part of the WomanStats project because it is a woman’s issue or that I will never fully understand the issues because I am a man. Already, by these attitudes, society has created barriers that would prevent me from becoming informed about these important issues. Thus, I am strengthened in my resolve that I can be part of the solution of gender equality. I know that true peace comes from understanding, and that one cannot create peace withou equality between woman and man. I am a feminist, a man, and heterosexual. Men and women should bothbecome informed about many issues, especially the issues facing women today–because if we stay ignorant, in my opinion, then there will be no hope for the future in any aspect of society.