Are men excluded from the movement towards equality?

This Kent Girl Can has been, and continues to be, a great way to celebrate the growing recognition of the power of femininity and strong females here on campus and internationally. Along this escalating Feminist movement, though, is it fair to say that men are being left behind?

Women have long been mistreated, undercut, under-represented, and overshadowed by their male counterparts, and continue to be to this day, which is why campaigns for female empowerment has been so crucial to changing societal attitudes towards gender and equality. The end of this long journey will include the equal treatment, expectations, and quality of life of both sexes and all genders, not just the female.

The term ‘feminism’ is often associated with prejudiced ideas of radicalism, ‘anti-male’ attitudes, or overbearing women who push for female domination. The most common reaction is to say ‘I am not a Feminist, but I do believe in gender equality’, as though the two concepts are not tautological. Some men are excluding themselves from a movement towards equal rights because the phrase ‘Feminism’ scares them away.

Indeed, there are many instances of male discrimination and mistreatment that are overlooked in the media. The feminist movement, however, is in favour of complete gender equality, we aim to shed light on men and their problems as well as women’s.

Male mental health, for example, is a growing issue. Just as much as women are socialised into bearing traditional ‘feminine’ traits such as emotionalism, men are raised to be unemotional and ‘strong’, often at the expense of their mental health and ability to deal with their emotions. According to the Mental Health Foundation (MHF), of 6,233 suicides in Britain in 2013, 78% were male. Expectations of ‘masculinity’ can lead to damaging experiences of emasculation, where men can feel ‘unmanly’ if they cannot conform to the ‘macho’ identity expected from them. By defying the gender stereotypes that have been long entrenched and resided in our lives, feminism benefits both men and women.

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) refers to the term ‘Feminism’ as ‘the advocacy of women's rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes’. Under this definition, we should all be feminists. Women’s rights deserve a form of priority because we, as a gender, are still catching up from centuries of oppression and discrimination based on the assumption of our being the ‘inferior’ sex. The march towards the ‘equality of the genders’ will always remain all-inclusive, recognising the struggles and challenges facing not only women, but people of all genders in society.