A Feminist Perspective On Why More Men Need To Join The Fight For Gender Equality


By Isabel Wiliams

Here’s why I think gender equality is a men’s issue, just as much as it is a woman’s. Roughly a year ago, an actress known primarily for her role in a bestselling wizardry-themed movie franchise delivered an extraordinarily powerful and moving speech about feminism at the headquarters of United Nations in New York. Serving as the ambassador for the HeForShe campaign, Emma Watson offered a rarely explored perspective on feminism.

“How can we effect change in the world when only half of it is invited to participate in the conversation?” she asked during the event. And she’s right! Based on my personal experience of being a woman and working in a male-dominated sector, I completely agree with her. Here’s why: Gender inequality is a men’s issue as well.

Ever since I remember, I’ve always been a feminist. Perhaps it was because my mother was such a strong presence in my household or because I didn’t grow up in a family where gender stereotypes were being meticulously maintained (it was my father who cooked our meals – and they were delicious!).

Studying critical theory for my humanities degree, I got acquainted with a range of feminist criticism, as well as the history of feminism. At the time I didn’t notice that literally all authors I read were women. Until that speech made by Emma Watson.

If you think that men have it better in today’s social and cultural setting, you’re not seeing the entire situation. Just consider the role of a man as a parent – while the society celebrates motherhood in many different ways, it doesn’t properly recognize the value of fatherhood – even though fathers are just as important as mothers in traditional family settings.

Interacting with men on a daily basis allowed me a glimpse into their world – and what I saw was something many women would never expect. I wonder how many feminists ever thought about how the ideal of male strength affects actual men. I’ve seen men suffer from mental illnesses or distress – and they were unable to ask for help because asking for help is not something men do. But the list of stereotypes only grows.


Another powerful stereotype is the concept of male success which makes many a human being miserable because they find themselves constantly lacking attributes to perform the role. All that talk about gender equality is mostly done by women and for women – until recently, men didn’t have many spokesmen.

Consider this: women have all the right to be sensitive (it’s like a cultural norm), but men don’t – because they stand at the opposite end of the gender structure. Instead of thinking about gender following a zero-sum logic, where it’s either male or female, we’d do better to think about gender as a spectrum – with many common points and similarities.

“If we stop defining each other by what we are not and start defining ourselves by what we are”, things might get better. I fully agree with Emma’s words. As long as I define myself as non-male and my colleagues think of themselves as non-female, we’ll be stuck in that duality which proves more harmful than beneficial. Leaving all those stereotypes, we’d be much freer to be who we really are.

What we need is a unified front addressing all gender stereotypes – including those which hold men captive inside their gender-regulated roles. Men should acknowledge these stereotypes and once they do, gender equality will become reality.

Another thing to consider is that gender equality did not originate from the male part of the society. Women often blame men for all the wrongs they’ve suffered through human history, but the truth is that there are many issues and factors, ranging from societal to biological, which impact the problem of gender inequality. That’s why solving the situation requires a dialogue, not a feminist monologue.

Instead of blaming men, or perhaps blaming each other, we should pool our resources and develop a careful plan based on acknowledging which tools are most potent in perpetuating the image of gender inequality and what we can do to stop them.

All this bring us to a point where gender inequality becomes an issue that affects both men and women – it’s not one-sided and both sides are suffering because of it. Still, society in general treats gender inequality as a one-sided issue, avoiding to talk about male stereotypes and choosing to focus on female hardships.


Even though the latter has a strong foundation (think of women’s salaries which are still predominantly lower than those of men), but seeing the problem from such a perspective blocks a considerable section of the issue from our vision.

We can tell that men are imprisoned by a system of beliefs abut what it means to be male and what is male behavior, but we fail to recognize that those male constituents (like control, power or aggression) are just as harmful to them as female stereotypes are to us.

It’s time to start talking about gender equality in a new way. I’ve been thinking about this topic for a while and had many conversations about it with my colleagues – and mind you, those talk aren’t easy to start, but once they do, it seems that men are just bursting to talk about gender inequality as seen from their perspective.

The current gender structure is unfair to both genders, because it fails to take into account individual personalities, dreams and needs. It doesn’t make anyone happy, but forces us to strive to perform roles like the strong man, the perfect mother, the successful boss or the sensitive female lover.

In order to effectively address the problem of gender inequality, I believe that we must join together and speak freely about how the present situation constrains us. And then change it all, together.

Emma’s speech moved me, because I never suspected that my hours of conversations with male colleagues exposed something so deeply ingrained in our culture. If you’re still hesitating, consider Emma’s on point advice: “Ask yourself if not me, who, if not now – when”. And start the change.



Isabel Wiliams is a Content Marketing Specialist at http://www.bizdb.co.uk/. She is a rational feminist and acts towards female empowerment. She is keen on new technologies, internet and anything digital and tech-related and believes in their power to bring about business and personal development.


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