You may have heard recently around the blogosphere about actress and recent UN ambassador, Emma Watson’s speech at UN HQ in New York innaugurating the first campaign of it’s kind to end gender inequality. If you haven’t already seen it, I beg you to watch it.

*video courtesy of Rappler

Not only does Watson eloquently orate this idea, but she brings light to an issue many feminists and others don’t often talk about.

She starts off by talking of the word itself, and how it’s become “a rather unpopular one”. It’s true. She later goes on to talk about the effect that it has on men, and how the word ‘feminist’ can often leave a bad taste in the mouths of some due to the exclusion.

For some feminists, myself included, it doesn’t seem like a question. “Are you a feminist?”

Of course I am. “But why? What do you have against men?”

“Well I don’t really feel like burning my bra.”

“I mean, I agree but, can’t we just use another word?”

A) I have nothing against men. (they’re kind of half of the population, gotta give them some credit)

B) Extremists may speak louder, but they don’t represent the entirety of a cause.

C) Because the word has a definition and THAT’s what you should be focused on.

This was the message Wattson was trying to convey.

“For the record, feminism by definition is: ‘The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.'”

She went on to try and open a dialogue for the men who are affected by antifeminism.

Men—I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue too.

Because to date, I’ve seen my father’s role as a parent being valued less by society despite my needing his presence as a child as much as my mother’s.

I’ve seen young men suffering from mental illness unable to ask for help for fear it would make them look less “macho”—in fact in the UK suicide is the biggest killer of men between 20-49; eclipsing road accidents, cancer and coronary heart disease. I’ve seen men made fragile and insecure by a distorted sense of what constitutes male success. Men don’t have the benefits of equality either.

We don’t often talk about men being imprisoned by gender stereotypes but I can see that they are and that when they are free, things will change for women as a natural consequence

Growing up in a society that sets such rigid standards and ideals was hard enough; growing up and realizing I was gay and different from both women and men was a little harder. I was constantly forced to pick a side, and even when I would, it was usually the wrong one. Growing up in a world ruled by men, and having that role be so strictly defined, meant for me that I would never be a man.

And so my constant struggle has been to silence myself. To live a life that wouldn’t instigate any sort of conflict so that maybe one day I could be perceived as strong enough, talented enough, worthy enough by societal standards to warrant the title of man.

I’ve since learned a lot from those feelings of insecurity and self-hate. I stand before you today a changed man. A gay, multi-racial, non-denominational, lower middle class artisanal man. And it’s only because of my identity as a feminist that I was able to realize all of the other amazing things about myself.

This isn’t only a gay man’s struggle (be that whatever it may to whomever), this is every man’s struggle. I see young and elderly men alike do the same things, make the same mistakes and stay silent on certain issues because of how they were raised and it needs to end.

Standing up for feminism doesn’t mean standing against men, it means standing together.

“If we stop defining each other by what we are not and start defining ourselves by what we are—we can all be freer.”

We here at WYV stand with you, Emma. Use the hashtag #HeForShe to support this amazing campaign or click the link below.

#heforshe emma watson feminist oakland

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