#HeForShe: Emma Watson’s Equality Agnostic call for action!

Emma Watson speaks on the ‘HeForShe’ campaign.

Emma Watson is a UN Women’s Goodwill Ambassador and her address below is the first public step in the right direction for gender equality that I have seen in a long time.  The campaign is called HeForShe and my only criticism of it is it could have gone one step further HeForShe&SheForHe.  But a step in the right direction is a step in the right direction, so I’ll take it.

In her address Emma essentially calls for men to join the fight for equality.  I realise how MRAs will feel about that, but in doing so she acknowledges that both men and women have issues that need to be addressed, she calls for an end to gender role (specifically mentioning the attached fall-out of male gender role) and encourages people to forego the terms ‘feminist’ and ‘feminism’ if this is what’s holding them back from engaging in gender debate or in supporting gender equality.

If you identify as a feminist or an MRA, this is your chance to think beyond the scope of just one side of gender issues.  If you’ve been fighting for gender equality and have been dissatisfied with the popular labels, this is your chance to become an accepted part of a mainstream movement to address gender equality from both sides.

Please take a moment to watch her address and then follow on with the rest of this article (or read the transcript here).

This video highlights four key areas related to gender issues and I would like to clarify them as this video didn’t create context – but it does highlight the need to address gender issues from both perspectives of both genders.

1. Body issues and mental health for both sexes
Here in Australia the biggest killer of people under the age of 45 for both genders is suicide (learn more here); male suicides on average outnumber female suicides 3-1.

The prevalence of eating disorders in both men and women in Australia, doubled from 1995 to 2005. Eating disorders are the third most common mental illness in women and eating disorders in women outnumber male eating disorders 10-1.  Female eating disorder issues are decreasing and male eating disorders are on the rise, particularly in pre-pubescent boys (learn more here).

All this just means that both genders need help and that our fight must be about issue, not gender.

2. Equal work for equal pay
This video makes reference to the fact that women are not paid the same as men for the same work and I thought I should clarify this.  Emma’s use of this statistic is in reference to places outside of western culture.  You’ll notice at the start of this video Emma promotes that she comes from Britain and in nations such as hers, she is paid the same as her male counterparts.

In Australia and America women and men are paid the same, we have a free market underpinned by anti-discrimination laws; however several myths around gender pay disparity exist and are propagated as part of the longest running game of ‘chinese whispers’.  In short pay discrimination is one those things that are ‘true’, because someone else told you so and because all context was ignored.

Let me clarify.  ‘Men’ as a group are paid more than ‘women’ as a group.  This does not equal ‘less pay’ or a lack of ‘equal pay for equal work’ in the western world.

Women are perceived as receiving less pay than men when comparing gross statistics only.  In other words, if you compare how much the female gender earns in total vs how much the male gender earns in total in an industry segment, or across an entire nation, and then you remove critical contextual information from the comparison, you get gender pay disparity.

What information is being removed:

  • Job Types.  A doctor earns more than nurses.  There are more male doctors and more female nurses.  When the medical profession as a whole is just split into male and female earnings without this distinction – suddenly you get a report that reads, ‘Men earn more in the medical profession’.  They do earn more, but male doctors are being paid the same as female doctors and male nurses are being paid the same as female nurses and there are more nurses than doctors.
  • Hours worked.  Full-time employed men work on average five hours more per week than women and are therefore more frequently working overtime which also awards a higher rate of pay.  This is particularly true in families where men are the sole provider for a family.  When this distinction is not taken into consideration you get a headline that reads ‘Men earn more for same work’ when the headline actually needs to read ‘Men statistically work more hours and are therefore paid more per year.’ Both sexes are still being paid the same hourly and overtime rates however.
  • Gender of caregivers.  Statistically women predominantly fulfill the nurturer role at home, leaving male partners to fulfill the provider role.  Women who do not drop out of work completely to care for children often go to casual or work part-time.  But when you ignore the reasons as to why women are in these part-time/casual roles, you get a headline that reads – ‘Men dominate full-time employment roles,’ when this needs to read ‘Men are statistically more likely to become sole providers with dependents.’  As long as we propogate male gender role, men will seek ‘provider’ work and women will continue being pushed into ‘nurterer’ roles.
In most areas of western culture we have law that stops discriminatory pay based on gender, there is one exception and that is in jobs that have negotiated pay.  In Britain, female executives with negotiated pays now earn more money than their male counterparts.  I don’t have stats for America and Australia but you may wish to look at articles like this: http://www.examiner.com/article/gender-pay-gap-is-not-what-activists-claim
If you were to compare male and female wages across an entire country, men earn more gross and women earn more net.  Why?  Men are still being raised with male gender role, a role of provider. Successful career driven women do not adhere to gender role.  This means statistically they are single, childless, or enter a relationship with an equally successful man rather than enter a provider role.  The dynamic equals greater surplus income or reduced expenses in those families.  Successful men are statistically more likely to have attached dependents.  Once you remove the dependent expenses from their income, men are earning less than women in all areas.
3. Equal representation

In America, since the start of the economic downturn, women have become the dominant employed group, in short despite the male gender role of provider, there are now more women employed than men.  That is not choice, that is circumstance attached to common issues associated with male employment.

Men overwhelmingly fulfill roles that are laid off during economic downturns (factory hands, loggers, builders and other physical labourer positions) and women overwhelmingly dominate roles that have decent job security (teachers, nurses, office work etc).

There is a gender workplace disparity issue in western culture, but it’s not pay – it’s death, health and job stability.

  • Men represent 94% of work place accidents resulting in death, serious injury or long-term health issues.  In America, during the 90s, as many men died on building sites per day as did during the peak of the Vietnam war.
  • In a survey ranking jobs across the globe based on pay, risk of workplace death/injury and job stability, 24 out of 25 of the jobs deemed the worst in the world all had one thing in common – the gender holding those jobs was 94-100% male (all above stats sourced from The Myth of Male Power).
  • Men overwhelmingly represent jobs that suffer serious environmental exposure.  In Australia this is a significant issue with male deaths from skin cancer outnumbering women’s, 2-1.
What all of this means is that both genders need equal representation in the workforce.
Without an end to gender role for both sexes, we won’t see men staying home to care for children, thereby freeing women to assume the role of provider. Without an equal number of men and women in the roles of doctor, nurse, teacher, builder, logger, garbage specialist, factory hand etc, we won’t see equal employment stability, gross pay, or health related to job conditions.
4. A right to choose parenthood
The most difficult aspect of gender inequality is the right to choose whether you become a parent, I personally feel incredibly strongly on this and view paternity as the single most sacred right and obligation a man can have.
In most western cultures a woman has a ‘right to choose’, with abortion law an accepted norm though there are state exceptions in America and additional laws that make an already painful ideal, horrifying.  In Australia we have very pro-choice law.
Men in western cultures do not have a ‘right to choose’. All fetal law and almost all family law, is weighted against men in such a one-sided fashion that men have no rights in these areas at all.
A man can be forced to become the father to a child that he had no wish to conceive.
A man can be forced into lifelong financial support of that same child.
A man can by association be forced into a lifelong relationship with a woman and a child he had no wish to conceive or commit to.
Societally, we accept in most western culture that if a woman consents to one form of sexual interchange, it does not automatically mean she accepts another; kissing is not an agreement to sex. When someone crosses that line we acknowledge that a lack of consent constitutes rape.  Whether this involved violence is irrelevant, a lack of consent is a lack of consent.
There was a period of time where marital law allowed for the legal rape of women by their partners. The fact that this was law, did not make it moral – but it took us years to acknowledge this.  Now that we have acknowledged that a lack of consent is a lack of consent, the law has changed.
A man agreeing to sexual intercourse with a woman, is not agreeing to the secondary act of fathering child, or to enter into a lifelong relationship with the mother of a child, or that child.  Saying that the man ‘should’ have used protection or knew what he was getting into when he is forced into fatherhood is the same as saying a rape victim who was date-raped shouldn’t have gotten into that situation.  No one asks to be raped, and there is no point in time where rape is not a choice that a rapist actively makes, a choice where one person forces their will and their desires onto another human being regardless of the consequences to that human being.
Yet legally we condone the emotional rape of men, we accept and enforce a lifelong relationship, or lifelong consequence onto men, and not only do we see it as normal in our society, if a man speaks out against this rape he is called a deadbeat dad and destroyed in the court of public opinion.
Here in Australia that is true even if you are not the parent of the child, we have a British piece of law called ‘assumed paternity’.  This makes it illegal to submit DNA evidence proving you are not the father of a child unless the mother consents to the test and then to the submission of results.  If you were in a de facto or marital relationship at the time with the woman when she conceived, you are legally the father.
Picture the public reaction to the enactment of law that forced a women to carry a child to term against her will, forced her to pay support for the child, forced her into a toxic relationship with the man that made her birth the child, then destroyed her in the court of public opinion if she spoke out against this moral outrage?
Even if she were freed from all obligations, even if she had no relationship with the child… would she be any less a mother?  How would this affect her personally, emotionally and her view of maternity?
A call to action
If you don’t think this is your fight then ask yourself, ‘If not me, then who? If not now, then when?’
The norms, must, change and it needs your voice to change them.
Legal does not equal moral.
Normal does not equal right.
Gender does not equal issue.

38 Replies to “#HeForShe: Emma Watson’s Equality Agnostic call for action!

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