by Amiah Taylor
Photo by Olu Eletu c/o nappy.co
I was talking to my father the other day about the commonalities between race talk and gender talk. What's said and explicitly represented in private conversations often falls short in real life—a marked attitude-behavior gap. This gap refers to the idea of personal attitudes not matching public behavior. This cognitive dissonance is more common than you might think. Often it comes from a lack of personal discomfort despite understanding, on an intellectual level, that an issue is wrong. It is difficult to understand the daily obstacles of a queer LGBT individual if you are heterosexual, just as it is difficult to internalize the struggles of a Black man if you’re not Black and so on and so forth.
Similarly, you can be sympathetic toward a woman if you’re a man but it can be challenging to offer empathy and understand the female struggle. Recently, I read about the rampant economic blackmail at work in McDonald's franchises. Women are working low paying jobs and narrowly avoiding sexual assault. With families to take care of and creepy men that hold positions of authority, they must choose which is more important: a steady paycheck or personal safety?
Now, here's where the attitude-behavior gap reappears. Many men claim to be advocates for women and to detest their mistreatment. On social media, many #woke men will proclaim their allegiance to women and in doing so they attempt create positive portraits of themselves. They support safer and more women-friendly workplace policies and champion women's rights from behind their cell phone screens, but we must ask more of these Twitter activists. We must ask them “will you stop patronizing the people and companies that clearly, and with unequivocal proof, abuse women?”
American society revolves around its economy. In the context of capitalism, an individual’s financial standing shapes their reality. From media conglomerates to multibillion dollar fast food chains, money is power. But in even simpler terms, patronage is money.
When you spend your hard earned dollars, do you splurge on hegemony? Money is more powerful than a social media handle in the fight to help women.
As a realistic woman, I dismiss the intangible and only believe real and measurable effort. The ruling class only respects one thing: economic power. Now, more than ever, it is important to practice conscious consumerism. When you opt to spend your money, points of consideration should include workplace policies. When money begins to shift out of the hands of companies that deny women dignity, they will notice. Two choices will present themselves: corporations will have the option to overhaul abusive workplace practices and slowly regain the trust of the public, or they will have the option to perish and we can watch them burn.
Some companies will dwindle, but from the ashes, better alternatives that are actually #woke will arise.
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