He for she – and she for he?

So as a nice, simple starter for my misadventures into blogging on gender issues, I thought I’d try and get the attention of a Hollywood film star (in a completely non-dodgy way).  No biggie.

In response to http://www.heforshe.org/EmmaWatsonSpeech.pdf

Re: Your invitation

Dear Ms. Watson,

Many thanks for your formal invitation to sign the He For She pledge.  However, I regret to inform you that I must decline.

I find myself quite disappointed to do so, actually – I was pleasantly surprised to note that in your speech, you acknowledge that men faced gender issues of their own as well.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for doing so in the UN.  But I think you actually aren’t the right person for this campaign.

Please hear me out – it’s not because you’re the Harry Potter girl.  It’s because from what I can tell, the He for She initiative isn’t actually focusing on those gender issues that affect men that you were so thoughtful to mention.  It is presenting itself as a movement to get men to help with women’s issues.  The pledge you invited us to sign reads as follows:

Gender equality is not only a women’s issue, it is a human rights issue that requires my participation. I commit to take action against all forms of violence and discrimination faced by women and girls.

Why, if both genders are facing gender issues and are in need of gender equality (as you correctly pointed out) is this campaign doing what so many other gender equality campaigns have done – and that’s to focus only on the issues affecting women?  Violence and discrimination affects boys and men also – often in many of the same ways that girls and women are affected.  (By way of examples, I refer you to the genital mutilation of men, the forced marriage of boys, and the rape of men in warzones).

Sadly, this is all too common an approach, with men being appealed to as men to help solve women’s problems, often with group responsibilty being imposed on them in a way that is not considered acceptable when done to other groups.  Often this is done by the very same people who claim to be seeking equality.  (Since you wondered, while I acknowledge that not all feminists behave this way, it is my experiences with this sort of behaviour among feminists that have made me disclined to identify as one).

guardiancifgroupresponsibilitydoublestandards

(Taken from The Guardian’s Comment is Free section)

I don’t think you’re the right person for He for She for the simple reason that you are much more fair-minded and egalitarian than its campaign is.  I could be wrong, of course.  You do not have my pledge – however, you do have my attention.  As UN ambassador for Women, you might well be the one who can make this campaign as egalitarian as your speech.

If you are able to do so, then you will have my pledge as well.

Wishing you every success and happiness,

Martin

Advertisements

9 thoughts on “He for she – and she for he?

  1. I concur.

    I noticed the juxtaposition between the concern for male issues in the speech and the one direction concern implied by the “heforshe” logo. Having then followed through and looked at the website, particularly the part you quoted, the whole thing seemed like a bit of a bait-and-switch. Maybe one day we’ll get to the stage of having a “weforwe” campaign.

  2. Hey desipis, thanks for coming over!

    Still familiarising myself with the controls here, thought I’d set it to unmoderated comments…

    I was feeling optimistic after reading her speech transcript – I was initially expecting it to be the latest in a string of articles I’ve seen this week that puts the responsibility entirely on men as a class to fix these issues. The campaign itself, however, is precisely. that. I don’t think it’s necessarily malevolent, at least not on Watson’s part – but the whole situation does leave me with that unpleasant sense of someone trying to manipulate me.

  3. Pingback: Around the web | GendErratic

  4. “Sadly, this is all too common an approach, with men being appealed to as men to help solve women’s problems, often with group responsibilty being imposed on them in a way that is not considered acceptable when done to other groups. Often this is done by the very same people who claim to be seeking equality. ”

    The cognitive dissonance required is just stunning. It is amazing, but unsurprising, that this is presented as some kind of egalitarian appeal that everyone should be praising . It’s not surprising, to me at least, because until a few years ago, I would have been praising it as wonderfully egalitarian myself. That’s a measure of how normal this kind of discrimination is.

    BTW, this is posted at Men’s Rights reddit now.

    • It’s not surprising, to me at least, because until a few years ago, I would have been praising it as wonderfully egalitarian myself. That’s a measure of how normal this kind of discrimination is.

      Yes, I think the same would have been true for me as well.

      BTW, this is posted at Men’s Rights reddit now.

      Thanks for spreading the word around. 🙂

  5. There will never be She for He because fuck men. Women have it worse, and women will always have it worse, and whatever it is that men are going through, whatever women are going through is automatically worse, and whatever it is that women *think* they *have* to do even though they don’t is alone worse than all the things that even they themselves unironically expect that “real men” should do.

  6. Oirishm, I agree with your sentiment… However, I’d rather become part of doing something to build a new ideal for gender equality. My big issue is, you aren’t actually starting a different movement. I am with you that there is this major pressure for men to help women’s rights, but really discouraging it completely is like leaving the conversation and then expressing your opinion on the topic… almost in isolation, rather than as a contribution.

    I’ve signed up to the HeForShe campaign, not because I’m a feminist, but because I honestly believe, that by interacting with the goals of Gender Equality, we will/can help build an egalitarian world.

    I wish you well, and I honestly hope to hear more about your perspectives on this issue.

    • Why do I need to start a different movement in order to be able to disagree with an existing one? There is a common mindset that goes around that suggests any answer to a problem, no matter how flawed, is better than none. I take the opposite approach – given how frequently men’s help is *demanded* when it comes to solving women’s issues (but rarely if ever does the reverse occur), I think it’s high time people start saying “we either do this properly, or not at all”. I definitely think such a time is long due when existing movements are regularly shielded from criticism. Anything can be criticised, and indeed should be criticised. There is also plenty of pushback when men start their own movements – I’ve seen feminists/women’s issues activists claim time and time against that we should stop criticising them, and start our own movements, which they’ll support. That support doesn’t seem to ever materialise, and the movements and campaigns are often criticised. (I notice these activists are quite content to criticise anything that they see as getting in the way of their goals.)

      Have a look at my follow-up post (won’t be that hard to find, I’ve still not written much here yet) – it’s not that difficult to make the pledge truly egalitarian. Just modify the last five words. In addition, you appear to have assumed I am not doing anything in response to this. Long before you posted I had in fact contacted the He For She campaign to suggest they alter the pledge wording. I don’t expect much of a response, however – and that’s also why I do not have many qualms about criticising these people. They will not listen or be corrected otherwise.

      • Ok Oirishm, I didn’t mean to presume. I’m actually looking for more egalitarian groups. I’ll check out your posts.

        In the meanwhile, I think that by being involved is a good way to change things from within. But, I understand what you’re getting at.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s