I recently experienced a situation that impacted me harder than I expected. I'm not sure what the takeaway is on it yet, but it has me questioning how I'm looking at things.
While working on selling tickets for the Shimmer Sparkle Shine luncheon last year, a woman confronted me about being a man working on a girls non-profit. She aggressively asked why a man was doing this and what was my motive behind it. It was not a positive interaction. I felt she pretty much accused me of using women's empowerment for my advantage and of being a pedophile. Not only was I very offended, it pretty much took the wind out of my sails while selling tickets.
I've always supported women's rights, empowerment and equality for all and this incident won't change that. What it has done is made me look at the larger picture of equality, discrimination and how while a particular group strives for equality they can discriminate in the process.
If a man works for women's equality, does it mean he is trying to undermine that? If a Caucasian works for an African American organization, does it mean he's secretly racist and working against them? If a man works for a young girl’s empower group, does it mean he's a pedophile?
While I understand there are people who do have bad intentions, I'd like to believe they are far and few between. Yes, it is important to be vigilant, especially with children, but it doesn't mean we alienate and dare I say “discriminate” against another person or group because they are not the core base of the group they are passionate about.. In the end, beyond gender, ethnicity, race etc., we are all human beings and if we can't support each other equally, without bias, than prejudice and bigotry will win.
Will this stop how I feel about Shimmer Sparkle Shine and what I do for them? No, but it will change how I approach situations and it has prepared me in case of a similar interaction in the future. I don't do this just because I was asked to, I believe in Shimmer Sparkle Shine and what it wants to achieve. I believe if we empower young girls they grow up to be strong women with the confidence to accept help from all people without prejudice.
- Byron Huntington, Board Member