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HeForShe, WeForUs


{ illustration courtesy of Matt Golding }

Alright, the opinions you are about to read are mine and mine alone. You might resonate with some, you might not at all. I really don’t care but I care more about writing how I feel. If nothing else, what Emma Watson said at the recent UN Launch of HeForShe has taught me to speak out and aloud. To voice my thoughts.

Earlier this week, the world went gaga over Emma’s speech on gender equality. This came in the wake of her appointment as the UN Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women. Her impassioned words called for men to openly and actively champion the equal rights cause, and help in advocating women’s rights. I came away with a newly-attained awareness of how men too are suffering from gender inequality. Her precise words were, “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.”


“I’ve seen men fragile and insecure by 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.”

Fact is, I’ve never quite thought of it that way.

It is somewhat sombre to note that even as women fight obstacles in their way to achieving what would typically be qualified (by society, no less) as being a man’s thing, by the same token, there are equally as many stereotypes when it comes to what men can say or do or choose as careers. This_is_so_true. And quite likely due to the fact that, for the most part, history records gender movements as being initiated and swayed towards the female of the species. Think the Industrial Revolution and the championing of equal wages for women in the workforce. Think Mrs Banks and her pro-suffrage protest song. A second wave of feminism arose in the 1960s, with an emphasis on unity and sisterhood; seminal figures included Betty Friedan and Germaine Greer. And there’s National Women’s Equality Day which has been celebrated on 26th August since 1971.

Masculinism (usually uncountable, plural masculinisms)

  1. An ideology of masculinity; especially, an ideology opposed to, or opposed by, feminism.

And despite all that has been achieved to date, why has the spotlight shone significantly lesser on the other spectrum of gender inequality? For the men? The men’s liberation movement developed in the early 1970s among heterosexual, middle-class men in Britain and North America as a response to the cultural changes of the 1960s and 1970s. Jack Sawyer published an article titled “On Male Liberation” in Liberation journal in autumn of 1970, in which he discussed the negative effects of stereotypes of male sex roles. 1971 saw the birth of men’s discussion groups across the United States, as well as the formation by Warren Farrell (recognised as one of the most important figures in the modern men’s movement) of the National Task Force on the Masculine Mystique within the National Organization for Women.

There’s International Men’s Day on 19th November, an occasion inaugurated a scant 15 years ago in 1999. There’s Glenn Sacks, an American men’s and fathers’ issues columnist and media spokesperson. And there’s Robert Bly, activist and leader of the mythopoetic men’s movement. I reiterate the fact that despite all that appears to have been accomplished, masculinism does not appear to have neither garnered as much media/communal support nor progress.

That said, to propose that the breaking down of barriers holding men captive within societal prisons will naturally lead to change for women as a downstream consequence is, well, idealist?

I leave you with this quote which, to me, sums it up picture perfectly.


Please, share your thoughts with me.


Love, Sheela

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