#IVforShe; men embrace feminism

On Sept. 20 2014, United Nations goodwill ambassador Emma Watson gave a speech about a new campaign for gender equality called HeForShe.

When a friend showed me her speech, it immediately resonated with my beliefs and I felt called to make more people aware of it. Watson’s passion was evident in every word as she delivered a powerful message urging men to stand alongside women in the fight for gender equality.

“How can we effect change in the world when only half of it is invited or feel welcome to participate in the conversation?” Watson asked.

She eloquently explained how women feel the pressure to be “feminine” while men feel pressure to be “masculine” and how these gender stereotypes inhibit self-expression.

“I feel like young girls are told they have to be a princess and fragile. It’s bullshit. I identify much more with being a warrior – a fighter. If I was going to be a princess, I’d be a warrior princess.” It’s evident from that quote that Watson isn’t afraid to break the stereotype.

No one ever “taught” me how to be a man, and I’m extremely grateful for that. Too often these days’ young boys are taught that to be a man means to be machismo, tough, unemotional, and hard.

They are led to believe through popular culture that if they show emotion, demonstrate feelings, or don’t follow the stereotype they are not a real man.

This tragedy is one reason why there are very few real men in our society today, and is a significant factor in why we see gender inequality, domestic violence, and crimes against women and children.

Men feel ostracized from the conversation through their own beliefs, societal stereotypes, or misconceived opinions on what being a man really means.

The purpose of the HeForShe campaign is to show people what the word feminism really means, and to extend that invitation to men.

“For the record, feminism by definition is: The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.”

That word in the past was ostracizing and divisive, but as Watson said, “…it is not the word that is important. It’s the idea and the ambition behind it.”

This is not a woman’s issue, it is not a man’s issue, it is a human issue and one we all need to unite on and stand up for.

We need to break the mold and shatter the stereotypes and progress our society towards a place where everyone is seen as they truly are: unique, special, beautiful creatures with the capacity to live and to love, and the right to do so.

Man, woman, boy, girl, all of us are born with these inherent qualities and should feel free to express them while knowing that, no matter their gender, they are all created equal.

Men this is a call to action, a call to stand beside your mothers, wives, girlfriends, sisters. This is a call to progress humanity towards a point where people are free to be themselves and get the equality that they deserve.

If you are willing to take a stand for equality, go to www.heforshe.org and make the commitment. I am #HeForShe. Will you be too?