“It goes without saying that these are ‘First World problems.’ In far too many countries around the world, women still lack basic rights and patriarchy remains very real (though it is worth noting that even in those places, men and boys often have to deal with gender-specific hardships, from forced recruitment into war to mass violence that singles out males). But in the industrial democracies of North America and Europe, the revolution in women’s rights over the past century has been a stunning success — and, while there is still work to be done, it must include the other side of that revolution. Not ‘he for she,’ but ‘She and he for us.’ “
Wait, so this is a genuine stab at raising awareness of men’s issues? That’s funny, since there I was thinking it’s basically nitpicking the #HeforShe campaign. Because, y’know, if it’s the hashtag that’s the problem, a rose by any other name…
Evidently, some people listened to Watson’s speech and went away with the notion that she was asking men to “shut up and listen” (or at least doing little to discourage that attitude) when her intent was actually very far from that.
In fact, verbatim:
“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 a young man suffering from mental illness unable to ask for help for fear it would make him less of a man – 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.”
Not sure how this constitutes as saying “nothing about problems affecting men and boys” as Cathy Young claims.
So sorry Emma Watson didn’t go into detail, with a full catalogue, on how men have also been hard done by, or that she wasn’t given more time to count the many ways women too can be guilty of setting back the feminist cause by decades, whether through social conditioning or otherwise.
Nevertheless, it seemed quite clear that anything which belittles men or dismisses their concerns belongs to the realms of misandry, and not feminism. Whilst it is true that some do confuse the two, blaming women for society’s misinterpretation only seems like yet more slut-shaming.
I doubt Watson expected to expunge centuries of gender inequality with one single plea, but acknowledging that men have just as much say in the matter is a pretty good place to start.
If she’d gone down a more prescriptive route, there would have been further elaboration on not just the daily injustice and brutality visited upon girls and women in some countries, but the kind of sexism the modern world still has to put up with despite hard-won rights previously denied for centuries. She could ask what more is required of women to prove themselves…
But perhaps that bra’s long been burnt and Watson recognised a different approach is well overdue, one that doesn’t point fingers in any direction. It’s time we realise that supporting one cause isn’t necessarily at the expense of another. And simply asking for help won’t drown out all other voices, nor should it lead to accusations of such, because really…it’s not a competition.