What We Share Is More Powerful Than What Divides Us

Many of you may be familiar with the gender equality initiative known as HeForShe, largely down to its association with the wonderful Emma Watson (also Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women). HeForShe is a solidarity campaign that’s actually under the wing of UN Women and you may remember in 2014 when Watson took to the floor of a UN meeting to discuss feminism. “Why has the word become such an unpopular one?” she asked us.

Since then HeForShe has grown massively; despite falling short of their 2015 goal to engage one million men and boys, they have reached over a billion gender equality actions, and it goes up every few minutes. The site shows a recorded 1.3 billion conversations taking place on Twitter and Facebook, 833K commitments, and over 1.1K events that had been held to aid the cause (for future reference, these figures were correct as of 3 May 2016).

So why am I talking to you about HeForShe? Because I follow them on Facebook, and couldn’t be more amazed at the level of balance in their work, and their campaigning. This is to say that recently, HeForShe have been running two campaigns on social media.

12957618_505648816297245_819137498001778532_o

The first being largely Twitter based, and asking users how they live #BeyondLabels. This has been a very comforting campaign running to support those who don’t work alongside the gender binary. The campaign has even been quite light-hearted in supporting men who declare their love for Mean Girls, the colour pink, and emotional movies – because why the hell shouldn’t they? The second of their campaigns however, is the one I’m trying to get you to pay attention to today.

Emma Watson has endeavoured to clarify that feminism is nothing to do with men-hating, and thank God. As explained before here on ‘Anthem’, feminism is equality of the sexes, not the promotion of one over the other. Equally, I’m sure a lot of you have seen videos and posts from women saying they are not a feminist because they support men. Again, real honest feminism supports both. Feminism wants to solve both sides of the problem. As a result, the recent campaign about what we share highlight the problems affecting both men and women, and just why we need to start dealing with them.

12400961_475034406025353_4523146108435282551_n

The campaign has looked at cyberbullying, body image and mental health with images like those seen embedded here. One of the biggest issues is that of mental health in links to high suicide rates in men. Something I’ve always been concerned about, these rates aren’t getting better, and it’s going to be a lot of work in fixing that. HeForShe has been busy sharing articles and posting about the worry surrounding men speaking out, expressing their emotions, and of course the inability to do so which has led to such high rates.

As it stands, 12 men a day are killing themselves in the UK. If this doesn’t make your stomach turn, I honestly don’t know what will. It’s horrible to think that subconscious gender socialisation has led to an entire gender feeling incapable of saying how they feel, struggling, battling with dark thoughts, and with a small number of them succumbing to those thoughts and ending their lives. To put it in perspective by gender, 3/4 of all UK suicides are men. You see what we’re saying here?

hefrosh

HeForShe have highlighted some pretty useful statistics. Most people are aware that numbers don’t mean people; not everyone comes forward, not everyone shares their truths. A lot of Facebook users have attempted to dispute these numbers by stating this, but realistically this means that their images are only more worrying, and more people of both sexes have been bullied online, are unhappy with their weight, or have struggles in the workplace that we don’t know about.

This campaign puts out some important, but slightly saddening data. As seen above, 1 in 2 girls, and 1 in 3 boys are unhappy with their weight. This is the kind of number that just makes me mad. No child, particularly one that young, should feel so conscious already. Of course, it sounds idealistic to say we should all just be happy little butterflies and love ourselves and others and then that would solve everything, especially when I’m a realist. 

The point of this is not to feel sad about life. The point of this is to show that men and women, we’re not so different. When Watson took to the stage in 2014, she invited men toward feminism, because gender equality was their fight too. The #WhatWeShare campaign demonstrates this perfectly. Depression is not a woman’s problem, suicide is not a man’s problem. Mental health is our problem. The sooner we work together, the sooner the problem can be resolved, or at least helped.

What we share is more powerful than what divides us, and what we share can lead to a greater gender equality, to a better friendship between gender, and a better chance for everyone being limited by how they identify in life. HeForShe is a global initiative led and supported by a lot of smart men and women who are genuinely striving for equality, and in the mean time, for a better society. I highly suggest you get on board by following them on social media, or pledging your commitment online.

If you want to be part of the change there is nothing stopping you. 

 

Words by Briony Brake
Images courtesy of HeForShe/UN Women
Statistics courtesy of Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM)

Advertisements

2 comments

  1. In place of the soft voiced, gentle woman of my reverent worship,” says Mr. Tesla, “has come the woman who thinks that her chief success in life lies in making herself as much as possible like man–in dress, voice and actions, in sports and achievements of every kind”

    “I had always thought of woman,” says Mr. Tesla, “as possessing those delicate qualities of mind and soul that made her in these respects far superior to man. I had put her on a lofty pedestal, figuratively speaking, and ranked her in certain important attributes considerably higher than man. I worshiped at the feet of the creature I had raised to this height, and, like every true worshiper, I felt myself unworthy of the object of my worship.

    “But all this was in the past. Now the soft-voiced gentle woman of my reverent worship has all but vanished. In her place has come the woman who thinks that her chief success in life lies in making herself as much as possible like man–in dress, voice and actions, in sports and achievements of every kind.”

    i must agree i like a woman..that acts and dresses like a woman..if i want someone that acts and dresses as a man i would date men. but women these day seem to want to be men..i’m all for equal pay for equal work, and stuff like that. To me a true woman is beautiful but not because her outside beauty, but because her gentle, tender and caring soul. a soft spoken voice, a tender touch, and love and compassion in her eyes and soul. not loud, success driven, and dressing like the brawny man.

    Like

    1. Dear Lazarus, I’m afraid I’m not quite sure how to respond. For a starter this post has nothing to do with wanting to be like a man, nor does any of our work so far. Feminism is not wanting to be like the other sex but wanting to be treated fairly for being the sex that we are. This piece is about women not wanting to be a pair of tits or a housewife anymore and about men not wanting to be lads or pieces of meat, but something more. Feminism wants men and women to be able to express emotion; to be human and without the weight of societal pressure dictated by private parts (because that’s ridiculous). If you don’t like “masculine” women then that’s your personal taste, but I’d ask that you reconsider how you think of feminism, and that you give up on the notion of lofty, delicate women and brawny men, and just let people be people. That’s the general aim anyway. Thank you for reading, Anthem.

      Like

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