This political moment challenges the deeply embedded cultural practices that have held women as inferior human beings, shackled by dehumanizing myths, objectified and dominated by others. Women who’ve been manipulated and controlled, forced to see themselves as passive objects but not the active agents and subjects of history, are standing up and speaking out. Men who believe in freedom must stand up as well.
When male politicians and commentators declare, “I believe the women,” let’s take responsibility for testing that hypothesis. Do they believe that women, non-binary people and trans-people should have control over their own bodies, should be able to make their own reproductive choices freely, and should they be free to express their sexuality in any way they choose? Do they think that people of all genders must receive equal pay, and have a living wage/stipend where needed? That no one should be forced to be married in order to access basic needs like health insurance and decent housing, as well as free child care while attending school or job training or work?
If we are to “believe the women,” we must acknowledge these structures of inequality that oppress and exploit them. Even as we fight against individual acts of sexism, let’s work to end the patriarchy and the structures of male supremacy.