You have two hands: one to help yourself and one to help others.
It’s a common theme in society to be expected to follow one of two personas: the feminine woman or the masculine man. These roles follow us throughout our childhood, dictating our actions, thoughts and judgements. To be a man by society’s standards is to be “rigid” and “tough”. This expectation is too often associated with misogyny, or the sexism that maintains old-fashioned notions to enforce unbalanced and unjust power dynamics. Behind the toxic masculinity across social media, we see men who are afraid of being judged for advocating for others. Many fear the label of being as, “soft”. However, until we tackle the norms of what society imposes on us, we will never see true progression for all women who’ve contributed so much to society yet continue to experience the harmful effects of sexism.
During Women’s History Month, I spent some time reflecting on Black women who made momentous contributions toward healthcare. Although there isn’t a large number of them, the impacts of Black women are pivotal to the field of medicine, as we simply would not be where we are today without the work of these health practitioners and scientists. The more I reflected on them however, the more I realized how the current system today fails them. Despite the progress we’ve seen, bias and racism still continue to infiltrate medicine imposing grave harmful to Black women. Maternal mortality rates, stemming from complications from childbirth, are 3-4 times more likely to occur in Black women in comparison to White women. Disparities in access to proper fertility clinics to adequate representation in clinical trials signify bleak outcomes for Black women. Being underrepresented as nearly every level means there is still lots of work to be done to close the gaps that impose such harm on this group.
So, where can I help? To be an advocate for all means to stand up for others on their path to progression. Although this task may seem daunting and complex, the small actions we can do, from posting our support on social media to initiating more conversations about these issues, can contribute toward progress for these groups. As a man, I carry the privileges to not have to worry about these issues women, especially Black women, face on a daily basis. Whether it’s the grave danger they face in healthcare, or the catcalling they may experience in small interactions, these issues largely go unnoticed unless we choose to accept these problems as one of our own. We must celebrate and lift each other up. We must continue to identify and address the disparities harming particular groups, all the while disregarding the judgement we may receive for straying away from the norms. Nevertheless, we must be an advocate for all. Advocating for all means supporting the progression of these marginalized groups, in hopes of seeing vast improvements. In doing so, we tackle the inequalities imposed on these groups and seek true progression as a whole.