#HeForShe will not make you any less of a man
In an era where celebrities predominantly exercise an almost magnetic influence over their fan base to promote products and virtually dictate the way the populous dresses or behaves, it becomes exceedingly rare to see an individual stand up and talk about a pertinent issue.
Emma Watson, an actress known mostly for her performance in the Harry Potter series, showed how celebrity power can be used in a positive way. Speaking before a UN conference, Watson kick started her ‘HeForShe’ campaign, a movement which aims to achieve gender equality by including men in the fight against female oppression. Although as a race, we have made giant strides towards gender equality, in many parts of the globe this remains an ever-present problem.
At the forefront is the general attitude of society. Particularly in low income areas, the prosecution of rape in most cases is non-existent. This is due to the police and the community not taking pragmatic steps to ward off crimes against women, with most dismissed by the police force. Only recently, a teenage girl doused herself in flames after the local police department refused to investigate her claims that she was a victim of sexual assault.
Watson highlighted how the issue of gender inequality is relatable to both the sexes and is not only an issue for women. Domestic violence in which men are the victims is swept under the carpet as well, with the victims of assault made to feel ‘less manly’.
Over the years, feminism has become synonymous to man-hating, with the general consensus painting a feminist as an egotistical, self-centred woman who blames every problem she faces on the opposite sex.
Such one dimensional thinking is criminally wrong, as at its core feminism fights towards social and political equality between both the sexes; it doesn’t aim to make one gender superior to the other. This is what the #HeForShe campaign aims to inculcate and only through realistic steps can the misconceptions on both sides be eradicated. The campaign, which is in process, hopes to receive support from a 100,000 people who would include a 100 other men and boys in the dialogue of gender equality.
So far, the campaign has received support from various Hollywood celebrities.
— Tom Hiddleston (@twhiddleston) September 24, 2014
— Russell Crowe (@russellcrowe) September 24, 2014
— Peter Gallagher (@petergallagher) September 25, 2014
— Kevin Durand (@onemightytree) September 24, 2014
— Chris Colfer (@chriscolfer) September 23, 2014
— Forest Whitaker (@ForestWhitaker) September 20, 2014
— Simon Pegg (@simonpegg) September 23, 2014
Even Prince Harry showed his support for the campaign.
— HeForShe (@HeforShe) September 25, 2014
The movement in itself is an extremely wise way to go about such a sensitive issue, as instead of viewing the concept of feminism and gender equality as a problem only important to women, it highlights how the participation of men is vital to its success. As humans, we have followed the teachings of the times hundreds of years before ours for too long. It’s time to stand up for an issue which affects all of us on a personal level.
For example, why should we judge and label women on the length of their dress? Why the influence of a father is exponentially diminished in the eyes of society? It is unjust for a society to assign markers and judgements on an individual merely due to his/her sex.
Depression and suicide is on a steep incline in our country. Men who are expected to be invincible to any sort of emotion find it exceedingly hard to relate their vulnerability. This causes scores of men to commit suicide, merely because they feel ashamed to go in the opposite direction to the role that the society expects of them. It is time we sign off to the expected ideals of masculinity prevalent in the 50s and work together as civilised humans.
We have a treasure trove of talent in our country and exploiting it in its totality is crucial for a better Pakistan. It is thus counterproductive to force young girls to stay at home, slaving over dinner, while their brothers go out and receive an education. We need to educate our children for a brighter tomorrow; oppression and inequality needs to be weeded out from the grassroots.
Hence, it is refreshing to see a celebrity raise an important issue, an issue which affects both males and females. Believing in equal opportunity for men and women does not make you a “Feminazi” nor does it make you any less of a man. It makes you human.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.