He says (Kim Huynh):
Me and some fellas at work like to talk about sports during breaks. Every now and then we'll watch a game together. I think some of my female colleagues are into sports too. Should I ask them to join us?
She says (Blair Williams):
It's fine to talk sports with colleagues so long as you're inclusive.
The problem is when informal conversations lead to exclusive networks and unfair decision-making. For example, when deals are done on the golf course by a privileged few outside proper procedures.
Put some considered effort into finding out why women aren't participating in your chats and outings. If they look annoyed or uncomfortable when you're huddled together guffawing, then modify the tone and/or topic of your discussions. You could also talk more about women's sports, particularly considering the success of the AFLW and the Capitals. A bit of diversity in terms of who is talking and what you're talking about usually leads to more engaging interaction.
If it's not okay to have men-only gyms or clubs, why are women-only gyms okay?
The gym can be an intimidating place, particularly for women. First, because of the gender stereotypes surrounding fitness - where men gain muscle and women lose weight - certain parts of the gym feel "out-of-bounds" or like "men-only" zones.
Second, and more concerning, is the real risk of women being harassed at the gym. A 2017 survey from GolfSupport found that over three-quarters of women fear being harassed at the gym. Given this, it's not surprising that one in three women surveyed also said they prefer women-only gyms.
When women are no longer commonly assaulted and harassed at the gym - and in our daily lives - then hopefully we will not need women-only spaces.
My seven-year-old boy tends to only wear clothes that are blue, black or camouflage. Should I encourage him to wear different colours?
Some feminists regard camouflage clothes as promoting a militaristic culture and mindset among boys. I personally think it's just plain ugly. However, in recent years it has become much more gender neutral.
How we see colour is constantly changing. Blue was a girl's colour until the 20th century. Indeed, the June 1918 edition of Earnshaw's Infants' Department noted that: "The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger colour, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl."
Put some considered effort into finding out why women aren't participating in your chats and outings.
Discussing this with your child doesn't cost a cent. You could talk about how colours are stereotyped as being either for girls or boys, mention how this has changed through history and across cultures, and ask what he thinks about this?
Or, as a parental figure and role model, you could dress more colourfully to demonstrate how the colours you wear shouldn't be dictated by gender identity. Maybe even do you nails once in a while to see how it looks and feels?
Be the change you want to see!
I love barbecuing and often wash up after dinner but rarely cook dinner. All other things being equal, am I doing my fair share?
Look, I'll never understand the Aussie tradition where men stand around the barbie, watching the sausages and chops slowly burn to a crisp (somehow the middle stays raw), while the women are inside, making the salad. Perhaps it's related to the gendered associations we place on meat and vegetables, whereby real men eat steak and dainty ladies eat salad. Vegetarian and vegan men are often considered less masculine and more virtuous and, in some dark corners of the internet, are put down as "soy boys". Or perhaps men like barbecuing because it's a public act that attracts kudos as opposed to the more private act of cooking dinner nightly?
Whatever the case, you need to cook dinner more because it's a basic life skill that every adult should know. It can also be a lot of fun as you experiment with different cuisines. Diversity is the spice of life!
I don't like "drama" (i.e. exuberant displays of emotion) in my life and try not to be dramatic. It's just the way I am. That's okay isn't it?
Sounds like you're generalising and gendering what drama means. "Drama" is often used to describe women who are seen as "difficult" or "emotional" and can be a way to dismiss them as "crazy" and "irrational" drama queens.
A lot of men say they "don't do drama" yet have no problem expressing emotions like frustration and anger. Saying you "don't like drama" is code for saying you don't like feelings, intimacy, and appearing vulnerable.
This often diminishes women who are associated with vulnerability and neediness, and can also hamper men's relationships, emotional expression and intelligence. Limiting the range of acceptable emotions that men can display makes it difficult for them to reach out and ask for support when they need it, and can increase the risks of depression and suicide.
Men, indeed all of us, should engage with a wide range of emotions rather than suppress them.
Feminism is one of the best things that can happen to men.
- Blair Williams and Kim Huynh lecture at the ANU School of Politics and International Relations.