MEN’S LETTER TO TRUMP: Show Us You Believe in Gender Equality

By Rob Okun

 

Will Donald Trump change his attitude toward women?

After the release of the 2005 Access Hollywood video caught him admitting to sexually assaulting women, many citizens couldn’t believe he could receive enough Electoral College votes to become president. I was one of them.

On January 31, I was a signatory to an open letter to Mr. Trump in POLITICO calling on him “to support this country’s, and the world’s, women.” (An accompanying petition is gaining names).  My co-letter writers and I challenged the president to set a high standard, to show that he is a man who believes in women’s equality and who opposes discrimination and violence of all kinds by men against women and girls.

During the campaign, Mr. Trump often repeated, “Nobody has more respect for women than I do,” even as he said and did things women and men consider disgraceful. (No need to reiterate here his many vulgar, offensive characterizations of women.) We reminded Mr. Trump that there is nothing manly about disrespecting women, and called on him “to make amends and to set a new tone.”

Will he? The White House plan to gut funding for Office of Violence Against Women Act grants, and his executive action barring from receiving US government funding any international NGOs that perform or promote abortions, suggest it’s unlikely.

Because the U.S. has long been a leader in promoting women’s empowerment around the globe, we urged Mr. Trump to insure the U.S. strengthen that role. Women deserve equal pay, affordable, high quality childcare and reproductive health services, we wrote, as well as paid family and medical leave for mothers—and fathers—so we can all care for our children. (In a glaring omission, Ivanka Trump’s family leave proposal omits fathers.) We also called for the U.S. to expand efforts at home and abroad to ensure women and girls are not harassed, beaten, or raped.

We reminded Mr. Trump why millions of women marched in this country and around the world the day after his inauguration: because women are apprehensive and fearful that their rights will no longer be seen as human rights; because they fear for their own, and for their families’ futures; because they’re disturbed his administration will roll back basic protections. We shared that as men who unequivocally believe in gender equality, that we—and tens of thousands of other men—marched with them. (His discriminatory executive order barring from the U.S. citizens from seven targeted countries only underscores our shared concerns.)

Mr. Trump, use the presidency to explicitly demonstrate that “you will champion the rights of all women”—including immigrant women, women of diverse religious faiths, and diverse sexual orientations and identities, indigenous women, racial minority women, women with disabilities, women who are economically impoverished, and women who are survivors of violence.

We wrote: Show us you will elevate women’s voices and women’s leadership by supporting the International Violence Against Women Act, and programs and campaigns against sexual assault on campus that support initiatives that prevent men’s violence against women; that you will hold accountable men who disrespect women.

Show us by supporting pay transparency and the Paycheck Fairness Act that you believe in giving women the platform to fight discrimination in the workforce.

Show us by supporting paid family leave and affordable childcare for all parents.

As men who deeply believe in women’s rights, we wanted Mr. Trump to know that every day we stand up for women in our personal and professional lives. We dared him to show the world that he’s a man who abhors all violence against women and girls, and who champions equality.

A president’s words and actions reverberate not just around the country but around the word. If “nobody has more respect for women and girls than me,” than show us, we challenged Mr. Trump. “Show us that you agree that men need to speak out and stand up against inequality and violence against women. Show us that you will #BeAModelMan.”

ROB OKUN is editor oVoice Male

The Violence and Discrimination Women Face

Too many women and girls in the U.S. face violence and discrimination that we perpetuate in our homes, our schools, our workplaces, and policies.

  • One in four women in the U.S. will experience violence by a current or former spouse or boyfriend at some point in her life, and underreporting persists due to stigma, as well as policies which don’t hold perpetrators accountable.
  • Women in the U.S. are paid 80 cents for every dollar paid to men, for the same work.
  • 3 out of 10 womenunder 45 will need to access safe and legal abortion in the U.S., a right which is now under threat.
  • Nearly 1 in 5 womenin the U.S. has been raped in her lifetime, including in her own home, in the military, on college campuses and schools.

 

 

 

 

Birth of the MajoriTea Party?

By Rob Okun

Since Donald Trump took office, people have been taking to the streets—and airport terminals—by the thousands to defend democracy and welcome those from other countries. We are the majority.

Two weeks ago, we demonstrated in all 50 states. Several of the largest marches were in the hundreds of thousands. In total, millions of us here and abroad banded together to speak out for women’s rights, immigrant rights, LGBTQ rights, a sane climate change policy, health care for all, and more. We are the majority.

Our list of issues is as diverse as we are: young and old; black, white and brown; gay, straight and transgender. Many roads, one path: We are the majority.

From the moment the first pundits began questioning whether marchers would go home or evolve into a movement—as the Tea Party did—I found myself saying, “Of course we will; we already have.”

Mark it down: January 21, the day of the women’s marches across the country and globally, was the official launch of what I call the MajoriTea Party, since by every measure, we represent the majority of voters, and not just because Mr. Trump lost the popular vote by a landslide. Consider: there were 235 million citizens eligible to vote. Of those, 137 million went to the polls; 98 million did not. And, of those who voted, 63 million voted for Donald Trump. That comes out to 26.8% of the total citizenry (63 million divided by 235 million).

We are working at the grassroots level and in the halls of Congress; in our living rooms, town and city halls, and in our state houses. One hundred days of resistance is only a beginning; we will resist every day of the 1,460 days in Trump’s term (if he makes it through four years).

Much of the country believes Trump doesn’t deserve to be commander-in-chief—whether because of the antiquated Electoral College system, voter suppression, a historic 2.9 million more citizens voting for his chief opponent or Russian interference in the election. Whatever your reason, consider this simultaneous truth: Trump is in the White House and, in the words of Georgia Congress member John Lewis, he is an “illegitimate” president.

In resisting our democratic values being trampled on by the new administration, we are following a long tradition in U.S. history.  We are marching in the footsteps of those who worked so women could have the right to vote. We are marching in the footsteps those who championed the 40-hour workweek, who agitated for laws that would further equality among all people.

Our movement was in place long before the election. But since Nov. 9, affinity groups, political initiatives and organizing campaigns have sprung up around the country. The White House, Congress, corporations and the media take note: millions of people are mobilizing; speaking out against the dangerous agenda Trump has pledged to enact and begun to enact. His divisiveness unites us; his mean-spirited attitude inflames us. Our solidarity inspires us. We are the majority.

Trump’s ominous “America First” inaugural address was chilling. He personifies the worst aspects of human behavior, particularly, sadly, the behavior of too many men: bigoted, misogynist, racist, Islamophobic, xenophobic. But at the 650 plus marches on Jan. 21, negative comments about the new president were far less prevalent than were expressions of empathy, kindness and support for the most vulnerable members of society.

So where do we go from here?

In every corner of the country people have formed or are forming affinity groups to address a myriad of issues: from dialoguing with those with a different world view to protecting women’s reproductive rights; from being an active bystander challenging hate to engaging in direct action—including civil disobedience—to effect change; from running for office to working on congressional redistricting in 2020; from joining a group that challenges racism to supporting immigrant rights; from advocating for a healthy environment—including working to prevent the Keystone and Dakota access pipelines—to supporting courageous journalists speaking truth to power. We will and need to continue to protest and resist.

In the months ahead, many of Trump’s voters will discover that they were misled—that coal-mining jobs are not coming back, for example. When they see they’ve been conned, we must be ready to reach out to these citizens who voted against their own self-interest, who will need support. Repairing our frail spiritual and political infrastructure is essential work if we are to build bridges of connection sturdy enough to hold us all and ensure rights for all.

Voice Male editor Rob Okun is author of Voice Male: The Untold Story of the Profeminist Men’s Movement, a new edition of which is due out later this year.

 

 

Black silhouette of father and son standing on a pier in front of gray water.

Father’s Day Present Worth Unwrapping: Overdue Policy Advice

Millions of men will wake up Sunday to handmade cards, neckties and, maybe, a new electronic gadget. It’s Father’s Day 2016, a time to acknowledge dear old Dad.

But beyond this increasingly commercialized day of purchasing manly presents (often overwhelming sincere expressions of love), lies a deeper, more important question: where is fatherhood in the United States going today?

Answers can be found in the “State of America’s Fathers,” a new report that advocates increasing both the visibility and value of dads caring for children. Continue reading

Why is the Orlando Murderer’s Gender Not Central to the Story?

The massacre in Orlando was carried out as an act of rage. By a man. Who had access to military-grade weapons. And had unmet mental health and trauma needs.

Until or unless we make the murderer’s gender a central part of not just this story, but of the larger effort to prevent mass shootings (that have traditionally solely focused on gun control and mental health), we won’t succeed in preventing such horrors in the future. We have talked about nearly all those other factors: access to guns, his mental health, his homophobic views. What about the manhood part? Continue reading

Dear Donald

The editor of Voice Male magazine says he has come into possession of a letter God recently sent to real estate mogul and presidential candidate, Donald Trump. Rob Okun reports he received an email from the Lord requesting him to immediately and broadly distribute the letter.

Continue reading

A Campaign to Raise Healthy Sons

After the Oregon Shootings

What if we treated every man who wants to buy a gun like every woman who wants to get an abortion? We’d require a mandatory 48 hour waiting period, parental permission, a note from his doctor proving he understands what he’s about to do, and a video he has to watch about the effects of gun violence. Then we’d close down all but one gun shop in every state and make him travel hundreds of miles, take time off work, and stay overnight in a strange town in order to get a gun. He’d have to walk through a gauntlet of people holding photos of loved ones who were shot death, hear people call him a murderer begging him not buy a gun. It makes more sense to do this with men seeking guns than with women exercising their reproductive health care rights. No woman getting an abortion has ever killed a room full of people in seconds.
*Distilled from the writings of William Hamby. Continue reading