Will #HeForShe work for me, a man?

Published: October 23, 2014

Emma addressed men and said that “it is your problem too” and indeed it is but a campaign named HeforShe is biased itself.

The recent HeForShe campaign by Emma Watson, the UN Women goodwill ambassador, has gained significant repertoire, with many men posting pictures on Twitter and Facebook with placards, articulating their support for the campaign.

The campaign speaks against gender violence and inequality. It is particularly a feminist movement and although it realises the bias against men, it does little beyond recognition. Emma herself stated that:

“The more I have spoken about feminism the more I have realised that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating.”

There is indeed a need for gender equality, and abuse against either should be equally condemned. Women are mostly the victims of domestic abuse, especially in developing and underdeveloped countries and in rural areas, and this should be accepted. However, men get abused too, and that should not be forgotten.

Denying women the right to education is also an endemic and should be addressed effectively through educational and social campaigns. But we also come across cases where boys and young men are forced to leave their studies to work and earn.

Women should have equal employment opportunities, yes, but recently, voices have been raised for female preference in certain position as opposed to men or, simply put, efforts for gender preferential employment against men have been supported by some women. How does that workout for the gender equality campaign?

Equality is a vague and rather broad term that doesn’t always necessarily address the intrinsic characteristic of the two genders.

There is a need to prevent gender abuse and inequality, which is a two-way fold and shouldn’t highlight one gender over the other. Emma addressed men and said that “it is your problem too” and indeed it is but a campaign named HeforShe is biased itself. When it comes to ‘equality’, there are certain idiosyncrasies and physiological characteristics that must be kept in mind.

Women are subject to preferential treatment in a number of instances and rightly so too.

One such case would be when a woman is bearing a child, which is a natural phenomenon. Women bear excruciating pain, physical hardships and emotional difficulties in the process, which is an enormous undertaking but the role of men and their partners shouldn’t also be ignored. In progressive, well educated and developed societies, men are the prime support systems for women while undergoing the troubles of bearing a child. They offer emotional, psychological and physical support throughout and play a vital role in preserving the physiological and psychological wellbeing of women.

However, women are granted maternity leaves for months while men are not subject to any such relief for their support and role through this process. Similarly, women are allowed preferential working hours in organisations to accommodate for them raising children under a certain age but men aren’t.

The question then arises that does equality mean abolishing these allowances for women or granting men similar provisions?

One cannot deny the fact that women are abused and often aren’t even involved in the family planning decisions, in rural societies and underdeveloped localities. Even their physical wellbeing is not a priority for the family for the need of an heir – this is gender abuse and women should be an equal partner in the decision.

But how is the campaign supposed to work here? Will it focus on the developed, progressive model where men help women or the underdeveloped model where women do not have equal say? And if it chooses a particular setting, will it ignore the other?

Also, I for one, like opening doors for my mother, sister and female friends, offering them my jacket if they’re cold and performing other ‘minor’ acts of chivalry for them. Does equality then call for abolishing these chivalrous acts by men for women or would it be acceptable the other way round too?

Maria Sharapova raised voice for equal prize money in Tennis for Women and Men championships, the basis for which was simple: ‘equality’. However, she did not consider equal attendance, popularity or even ratings as a factor, leaving the argument very vague. Ratings, attendance and popularity of men’s tennis are far greater than women’s tennis for reasons beyond gender bias. ATP is followed extensively while Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) fails to attract the same level of popularity or viewership.

Equality alone, therefore, is vague and notwithstanding of certain characteristics for both genders. The need then is to stop ‘abuse’ and ‘unsubstantiated preferential treatment’ for one gender over the other. This is what the HeForShe campaign should be about.

Daniyaal Shahid

Daniyaal Shahid

An export manager for a textile industry in Europe who enjoys sports, particularly tennis, and loves to travel. He tweets @SDaniyaal (twitter.com/SDaniyaal)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Shery

    Very nice article :PRecommend

  • Whothehell Cares

    HeForShe is just another gynocentric campaign that puts women at the centre of the universe, and where adult men and male children are given zero consideration.Recommend

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    The reason that campaigns like this in particular ,and human right advocates in general, focus on women rather than men is because the ratio of men being “abused” to women being abused is very imbalanced. I think a recent CDC survey put male rape at 0.2% in USA.(Yes I took up only rape, but you can research other forms of abuse and you will find almost the same).
    Also most social stereotypes are connected with women, not men.
    In reply to your comment on maternity leave for the man which , ofc is called “paternity” leave. Most western companies do give their employees options to adjust working hours and some also offer leave.
    However in Pakistan, our social makeup is such that a pregnant woman usually, is cared for by women either on the husbands side or the wife’s family. Only a small number of couples are forced to fend for themselves. So Pakistani employers don’t see the need to grant paternity leave, however I have seen that more and more employers are allowing options on working hours.Recommend

  • Shahram

    Well written Lord Com-man-der.. Sharapova can also only last for best of 3.Recommend

  • ZRK

    Agreed on lower percentages or “incidents” but are you then advocating that these lower incidents don’t need a mention? Fighting for equality of genders or against oppression of one by oppressing the other? Recommend

  • A female.

    I am a girl and I open doors for my male colleagues, father, brother
    and even other unknown males when I go to shops. I, also, reject
    jackets offered by men because I believe they feel cold too and they
    shouldn’t suffer just because I didn’t bring warm clothing myself. I would
    even offer them my jacket if I didn’t fear they would feel embarrassed
    by being caught in a female “pretty, pinky, glittery” etc jacket. I
    believe that’s equality.

    I understand that men do ALOT for their
    children but by no way is it comparable to what a woman goes through. A
    little more research by your side might make you understand why woman
    gets a long maternity leave. A male’s body doesn’t demand a leave
    whereas a female’s does. Plus she needs to constantly care for and feed
    the baby which can be done without a male presence. Males primary
    responsibility in most societies is to earn money for their children and
    for that they need to go to work rather than taking long leaves.

    women and men have been born differently and with different
    capabilities. Equality doesn’t demand that male should start giving
    births and similarly, equality doesn’t demand females of tasks that they
    are incapable of, even if that means holding of an excessive weight
    (may it be 10 kg of vegetables your mother brought for you). In the
    general sense, we are equal, where one sex isn’t better than the other
    purely based on that sex.Heforshe, i understood it to mean that
    every he for every she, implying that they are equal. This means that it
    isn’t a biased name but a spot on one.

  • Muhammad Bilal

    Well written.Recommend

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    I never meant that men should be oppressed.I am against abuse, no matter what the gender. I commented to show that women are more abused therefore there protection is paramount. Men are not abused that much.Recommend

  • TheStoryGoes

    Maybe it’s because sexism harms women more than it harms men. Society tells men that they need to be in charge and need control, for example, reducing them to the ‘boys will be boys and men will be men’. HeForShe is a campaign that tells men that if you stop feeling the need to control everything, then women don’t have to BE controlled -which is the primary reason for rapes, and marital abuse or most of the discriminatory behaviour, especially against women. As ONE of the examples. Feminism IS focused on women. But it’s battles are for a better education, better child care, better opportunities, it leads to a better society. Women are deprived of all of these in infinite places where men are NOT. So WHAT is your problem with feminism?Recommend

  • Shaw

    On your second point the author did give due consideration to physical, psychological and other difficulties faced by women and just asked for men to not be ignored as a supporting.
    Also if the same argument had been made by a Man that it is their job to go out and earn for children than many feminist would have objected to it being stated that way and arguing against it.Recommend

  • maryam

    Completely agree with your comment.Recommend

  • maryum

    In my view justice is a higher moral than equality. If you aim for equality you may not be necessarily just. Women are given maternity leaves bcs they have to look after themselves and the baby after pregnancy but men dont have to. If we abolish granting such allowances to women we might achieve equality but not justice. Recommend

  • Daniyaal S

    Exactly Maryam. Women are entitled to those leaves and deserve them. Equality is therefore vague and we should allowae for these allowances and call to prevent abuse and preferential treatment of one over the other. Thanks for reading Recommend

  • Sana Z

    You sum it up so nicely, Maximus. The article has insubstantial grounds. I mean now to make controversy in an equality movement too, when the whole world’s already at it? Yeah, we could totally use that.Recommend

  • Sana Z

    What a male chauvinist.Recommend

  • Sana Z

    TheStoryGoes, I could send you flowers for describing our plight so acutely.Recommend

  • Yeah, that one guy

    From that CDC survey you mentioned: women raped, 1,270,000, men forced to have penetrative sex or RAPE if you want to be technical about it) 1,267,000. You’ll find that the woman who convinced the CDC to separate those two categories, Mary P Koss, is known for using questionable research practices to push her own agenda.

    Also, for every gender role enforced on women there is a corresponding gender role enforced on men, for instance women are considered natural care givers while men are considered natural bread winners. These are simply two sides of the same coin, a role for either gender.

    the entire first half of your comment came off as either misinformed or outright disingenuous.Recommend

  • Queen of Everything

    omg who let the MRA out?!Recommend

  • EJC

    “I am a girl and I open doors for my male colleagues…”
    Good job.

    “I understand that men do ALOT for their children but by no way is it comparable to what a woman goes through.”
    Huh? They go through this pregnancy entirely differently. They have different duties

    “A little more research by your side might make you understand why woman gets a long maternity leave.”
    Of course, women have uterus’s, men don’t It makes LOGICAL sense for the women to recover more and have more maternity leave.

    “A male’s body doesn’t demand a leave whereas a female’s does. ”
    For a pregnancy? Of course…how does this tie into “comparable to what a woman goes through”?
    Also, men has to work while not seeing his child for hours on end…Imagine mothers not seeing their young born for hours on end.
    Get it? You cannot compare the 2 as they play entirely different roles. You are comparing apples to oranges.
    The man also has to work harder and longer AFTER the pregnancy for 18+ years. The women traditionally have the option as a full time mom if she wants to.

    “Plus she needs to constantly care for and feed the baby which can be done without a male presence.”
    Correct…but who constantly care for the mother while she has her hands full with a baby? The partner that helps with other things such as financial responsibilities while the wife ONLY focus on the baby. Get it?
    If she has a partner, that partner plays a very big useful role vs no partner.
    Here is an exercise for you. Talk to mothers and ask if they’d prefer to NOT to have had their husband/male partners help. A resounding NO.

    When she is highly pregnant, the male role is to support her financially/physically and be there for her emotionally. Do stuff around the house, etc. This is logical, she is not very mobile, thus help is needed.

    That is also why most (not all) women prefer strong men biologically. Because in the cave men days the stronger male typically will help you through pregnancy and other dangers.
    That is still evident today.

    “Males primary responsibility in most societies is to earn money for their children and for that they need to go to work rather than taking long leaves.”
    Exactly,they are basically basically ATM’s that needs to work for longer. When my friends got kids they immediately start working longer, give up their hobbies, sell the car for something practical, get a mortgage on house, etc. That’s a lot of stress some women do not see as traditionally the man handles that part. You fail to address that and just reduce it to “to earn money”.
    So many males have their lives changed when a little life comes on board.

    “In the general sense, we are equal”
    Until the toxic feminist sees otherwise. Like lowering the standard for being a fireman/military just for the sake of equality.
    Also, what are true scotsman feminist doing about toxic feminists?

    Where are the websites, organisations or social media pages of feminists that publicly denounce toxic feminists? Where do they talk about biased courts that favours women in divorces? Are they fighting that?

    “Heforshe, i understood it to mean that every he for every she, implying that they are equal. This means that it isn’t a biased name but a spot on one.”
    Watch her video again, it is HE (men) standing up for HER (women). Hence HE for SHE. Same old expectation for men. Not all of us for us all. Not even something completely egalitarian but something to go with that message that men must fight for women. How did you miss that? Not once did she talk of Males screwed over by biased courts when divorcing, Male rape, Male DV. Did she?