Friday, 22 June 2018

Lets Talk Gender Equality

First thing’s first, what right do I have as a man to talk about a subject so fragile and sensitive? I must point out that if you have had to ask that question you, without a doubt, already qualify to read on. The next couple of paragraphs may seem like ‘throat clearing’ but in fact I am providing you with the tools to openly have this conversation with others. 

I am not a well known author, writer or with infamous authority. I am in fact, a 28 year old, working class man who enjoys observing, debating, thinking independently and educating. I have the right because I am a human being. I have the right to produce my opinions and to share my observations because I, like you, am an evolved primate with a passion to educate my fellow mammals about opportunity and human rights in this subject. 

In this case, I hope to encourage men to read this and want to learn more about gender equality. Not to push dogmatic views onto an unsuspecting readership but perhaps a man would be more comfortable accepting feminist views from another man from the outset. 

‘How can we affect change in the world when only half of it is invited, or feel welcome to participate in the conversation?’ - Emma Watson UN Women’s Global Goodwill Ambassador 2014

For the sake of clarity we need to brush up on a definition. This should not be ignored. If we plan on running we first must remind ourselves how to walk. Gender equality has taken many different forms over the years, Gender Equality, The Empowerment of Women and Feminism to name but a few.

Feminism by definition is the public belief that there should be equal human rights and opportunities between the sexes. 

I may ask you to revisit that definition later but for now lets explore the reasons why the  ‘F’ word has become such an unpopular one. Over the years we have seen a rise in what I will call the ‘fake’ feminists, what I mean by this is some people have misused the word and abused it’s meaning for their own ends. 

Man hating now walks hand in hand with feminism which has contributed to the words unpopularity. Lets clear this up here and now. Feminism is not about the revolution of women. It is not about overthrowing men from a historical seat of power and seating women on its throne instead. Equality, human rights and opportunity are a true feminists only watchwords. Any man or women who is currently seething at me, may I redirect you back to the previous definition. I must also insert for the benefit of balance that there are ‘Mens Rights’ groups but I will not poison the eyes of the few readers I have by providing a web link. I can be forgiven on this occasion. 

In 2016, The Telegraph conducted a survey on how many of us Britons consider ourselves to be Feminists. The results do seem predictable after reading the preceding description. Only 7% of us Britons consider ourselves feminists. 8000 people were surveyed and only 560 used the word Feminism to describe their position on Gender Equality. 

Are you still with me at the back of the class?

‘The overwhelming majority of the public share our feminist values but don’t identify with the label. However the simple truth is if you want a more equal society for women and men then you are in fact a feminist.’ - Sam Smethers, Chief executive of The Fawcett Society Charity

In the same survey The Telegraph asked for the publics initial reaction to the word feminism. More than a quarter had said “bitchy” while 22% said “strength” 17% said “suffragette” and the same amount used words related to gender such as “woman or female.”

Only one in twenty (4%) people in the UK said they don’t know what feminism stands for. However 3 in 5 (61%) people in Britain believe in equality for women and men but don’t describe themselves as feminist. Only 7% self-identify as feminist and one in ten (9%) think feminism is irrelevant.

My introduction into feminism came from Emma Watson. Most of you will know her as Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter films but I know her as the UN Women’s Global Goodwill Ambassador and founder of the HeforShe movement, which was born in September 2014. 

Through her work I discovered that I was a feminist by definition and immediately signed up to to find out how I could help to spread the word. I would ask you to do the same. I will also include a youtube video of Emma’s 2014 speech so you can see for yourself.

So, with the foregoing in mind I need you to ask yourself a question. Are you a feminist?

If you are, I encourage you to declare it openly and do a small part in revitalising the word and its true meaning by sharing this post or by word of mouth. 

To effect change and make gender equality a reality for both men and women, we all need to be involved. 

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