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Here + Now,  History + Community

Three Ways to Treat Women Like Human Beings Instead of Stylish Furniture

Happy International Women’s Day! As an attractive, intelligent reader of On the Danforth, we know that you probably don’t identify as a full-time misogynist—nor should you, considering the pay—and that you might want to know how to support the women in your life today. Don’t panic: we came up with three ways to be a better ally, all of which you can practice year-round, as well, because equality shouldn’t be temporary.

Let Women Speak

If you are a woman, which is about fifty per cent likely, you may have struggled to voice or to continue voicing your opinions in a group of men. This is actually a thing: several scholars, such as Pamela Fishman and Don H. Zimmerman and Candace West, have noted that men are more likely to interrupt their female contemporaries. If you aren’t a woman, which is equally likely, try to be mindful of how much you are contributing to a conversation. Has the woman you’re speaking to spoken? How much do you know about them compared to how much they know about you? You’re fascinating, we know, but as the poets Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock once revealed to us, “It takes two to make a thing go right.” True wisdom transcends disciplines.

Support Women-Owned Businesses

Although the author of this article would love substantial, unsolicited donations from Gothic benefactors wearing capes, there’s no need to bequeath your inheritance to your favourite barista (unless she knows how to make a flat white). Instead, whenever possible, support woman-owned­ and woman-operated businesses, including female entrepreneurs. Don’t worry if your wallet is on the lighter side; you can still show your support with online and offline promotion, or you can offer to volunteer, if the business is receptive. The goal is to demonstrate that women are worthy and necessary contributors to the cold, low-pressure shower that is capitalism.

Leave Women Alone

Given the recent public coverage of sexual assault and harassment—ours has been referred to as “the #MeToo era”—you may not be as tempted to tell women at the bus stop to smile, or, worse, that you find them attractive. If you are, though, please interrogate your motives: why do you think that we need to receive this information? Why do you think that we want to receive it? Be it physical, emotional, or both, attraction is common and—usually—healthy; however, when it is imposed upon other people, especially without their consent, it can quickly become problematic. Plus, if the woman that you’re harassing is a naiad, she might be transformed into a tree.

International Women’s Day is a great reminder that women are people, as opposed to upholstery, and that we still kind of need respect: today, tomorrow, and indefinitely.

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