Men in the Movement: Alan Kearl

Holly Kearl, Guest Contributor

“What have I done to make you so angry at men?” my dad asked me one day when I was 17 years old. At the time, I was reading a lot of feminist literature and brimmed with anger as I became more aware of the pervasiveness of gender inequality. I assured my dad that he hadn’t done anything wrong, and that having a kind, loving, and supportive father was actually what made me felt strong enough to become an advocate for women.

Twelve years later, instead of feeling worried, my dad joins me in working to create more equity and justice in the world. As I wrote my master’s thesis on street harassment, gaining an understanding the widespread yet normalized problem of sexual harassment in public places, my parents and sister learned a lot too. They each became advocates in their own unique ways, and my dad became a strong activist against street harassment. Today, he is great source of support and guidance in my efforts to make public places safer for everyone.

A year after I turned in my thesis, I began fielding media requests on street harassment. My parents suggested I write a book to fill the gap in information about the topic. My dad continued to check in with me on the idea, encouraging me to consider it seriously.

When I secured a book contract, my dad spent dozens of hours line-editing the entire manuscript twice. It was truly a labor of love, and while I was frustrated sometimes when he felt a section was unclear and should be re-written, he was usually right. Ultimately, his advice made the book stronger.

In the two years since the publication of my book, my dad continues to support anti-street harassment efforts. He wrote several posts for the male ally series on my blog, and he engages in conversations with coworkers, family members, and even people he's just met to raise their awareness about the issue. Last March, during International Anti-Street Harassment Week, my dad organized a rally in New York City. Despite a busy work and personal life schedule, he organized over a dozen speakers and performers, including City Council Member Julissa Ferraras, and a crowd of more than 100 people joined in to chant, cheer, and get energized to do something. Everyone at the rally was inspired to see a male ally take such an active role in addressing the issue.

I feel so fortunate that my dad has always supported every idea I’ve had. He has dreamed big on my behalf and encouraged me to dream big, too. He sets an amazing example for other men, demonstrating the importance of working with their children to make the world a better place.

Holly Kearl is the author of Stop Street Harassment: Making Public Places Safe and Welcoming for Women and the founder of International Anti-Street Harassment Week.

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