By Michael Diambri, A&E Writer
Social equality is what the feminist movement stands for, but this has not always been the case. Whenever I have identified myself as a feminist to my male friends, I am usually met with blank stares, quick judgments or indifference.
As a middle-class white male, I thought that no one would respect or want to hear my opinions on equality because I thought they wouldn’t be welcomed. Feminism has been portrayed in our society and through social media as men being on trial, not about fair treatment of all people.
A few years ago when I was talking to a close friend, I described my beliefs in equality. She said that I was essentially a feminist. To which I said, “I am not a woman, so that is impossible.”
The label “feminist” leads many men away from feminism, because they see it being exclusively for women. This is not the intention of the word. It is supposed to be different from “chauvinist,” who is someone who believes a member of one sex or group of people is superior to another and thus deserves better treatment.
The feminist movement has not portrayed and advertised itself in a way that has been welcoming to men.
This is because the movement has been interpreted as feminist hating men and them no longer wanting ordinary white males to have a say in equality.
Social media campaigns like #YesAllWomen, a Twitter hashtag in which users share examples of mistreatment toward women, have made many men think that they are not allowed to be feminists and feminists do not accept them because of their gender.
This is something that needs to change. The feminist movement needs to be about equality. That is what many feminists are striving to do now.
Actress Emma Watson gave a speech on gender equality to the United Nations earlier this year for the HeForShe campaign, urging men and women alike to simply recognize equality and become advocates for change.
“If there is one thing I know for certain it is that this [feminism being considered man-hating] has to stop,” Watson said. “For the record, feminism by definition is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. I think it is right that I should be paid the same as my male counterparts, I think it is right that I should be able to make decisions about my own body, I think it is right that women be involved in the policies and decisions that affect my life.”
Watson worded this beautifully in her speech. Whether female or male, as humans we deserve to have our voices heard in society, so that no one gets left behind, has to suffer or is mistreated for who he or she was created as.
Men should be supporting campaigns like HeForShe.
“It’s about eliminating inequality, and creating equality of the genders…making an equal plane” said junior anthropology and women and gender studies major Nate Bannister. “If men support feminism, we are helping eliminating self-hate and unfairness in our society.”
Bannister said many Americans misunderstand the feminist movement.
“A lot of people in our society like Rush Limbaugh broadcast what they believe feminism to be, without really understanding it, and others listen,” Bannister said.
It is important for everyone to support social equality. If we want to see change, as Bannister emphasized, feminism is a movement for everybody.
So, men, if we believe in equality, let’s not be afraid to identify ourselves as feminists.
Let’s, at least, speak up and help others achieve the same rights we have. Let all members of humankind have their fundamental rights.