By Shannon Alford, Substance Use Counselor
Gender inequality can be a “hot button” in any conversational setting, and due to the uncertainty of where a conversation surrounding this topic can lead, we avoid talking about it. But we shouldn’t fear having this conversation - we should embrace it. Much of our understanding of gender equality and inequality has been taught to us - either directly, through one-on-one discussions about what the roles of men and women are; or indirectly, messages sent through social media and other media outlets. The outcome of such messages can lead us down two separate paths: acceptance or intolerance.
Before these conversations can always be one of acceptance and respect, we must first gain an understanding of what intolerance looks like. Bigotry and hate speech have become an all too common entity in our daily lives and the impact is damaging. Social media has become a primary outlet for this kind of intolerance to spread. The language and images that are used are often shared and viewed by thousands of people. This creates a culture that these messages and images are normal and acceptable. Intolerance is not acceptable and must not become our norm.
Acceptance, in the form of empathy and respect, should be the foundation for which we begin to have conversations regarding gender equality. If we do this consistently, our words, behaviors, and beliefs will begin to shift.
This shift starts with you and me. We must be willing to address our own beliefs and biases regarding this issue. At Families First, we offer a number of opportunities for continued education and personal healing and growth, through our Indianapolis or Greenfield support groups, individual and group counseling.
If we stand together, we can begin to change the outcome of the gender equality conversation and live in a place where acceptance is the norm.