I actually think that Emma Watson’s HeForShe campaign is, while well-intentioned, very much flawed. But that is a discussion for another day, a discussion I don’t have time to go into today. The question is then why have I embedded her video in this post? Mostly because as I was watching it and looking through the comments, this one comment popped up where a teenage dutch boy basically tried to point out ‘logic holes’ in the HeForShe videos in order to prove his case for men’s rights.
Annoyed as I was, I ended up typing a long reply to this kid, neglecting my film essay in the process. I figure since I’d neglected my film essay for this, I would at least try to put it up on a platform other than YouTube to try to garner some more awareness for it. I am aware that some of my answers could be a lot better elaborated or justified – I am still trying to better understand gender and how it works in our society. I am also a student who desperately needs to return to completing her assignment instead of typing out 1000 word long YouTube comments. So I do welcome any additional discussion with regard to this topic and do comment if there’s anything you want to raise awareness of within my reply or within his comment!
What follows this is my reply to this teen, with his initial comments italicized:
I have a few responses to the ‘logic holes’ you have pointed out. They are as follows:
“At 0:03 Why is her campain called HeForShe (…) The name only suggest support towards women. (…) And where is the UN ambassador for MEN? Alot of men have huge problems with stuff like: work-related injuries and death, Suicides, not doing as well as women in school, getting in more legal trouble, and men are a mojority of homeless and drug addicts. “
To begin with, I (like you) disagree with the name HeForShe, only I do so for vastly different reasons. I disagree with the name because for a feminist movement I think it instead continues to propagate the notion that male power is what can enact change within society instead of challenging patriarchal systems of power. Furthermore, considering that it is part of a feminist movement that aims for gender equality, it unnecessarily reinforces the gender binary and thereby excludes individuals that identify with non-binary genders, implying that they are not worthy of the equal rights that are being fought for in this campaign. I do not disagree with the name on the basis that it doesn’t indicate support towards men/ males. You ask where is the UN ambassador for men and state that men have “huge problems” with work-related injuries, death, suicides, etc. When we look at each of these issues, I hope you will look at the root of these issues to see if it is truly because men are being underprivileged in society. Yes, there is often a higher percentage of male suicides than female suicides. That is true. However, the reason is often that males who are facing depression/ emotional turmoil often find that it is emasculating to seek help because of the stereotype perpetuated by society where men have to be emotionally stoic and resilient. Being depressed and acknowledging that you are affected by your feelings are seen as traits that are shameful for males because they are seen as female traits. So while, superficially, it might seem like the issue is that males aren’t getting the help they needed, the larger issue is that various character traits have been gendered and that certain traits, like being emotional, are gendered as female and devalued because of their association with the female gender. Hence, a focus on women’s rights and arriving at the realization that, firstly, traits associated with the female gender should not be devalued and then, subsequently, that traits should not be gendered at all, is what will truly solve this issue. Feminism aims at achieving gender equality but it is called feminism because it wants to do this by elevating the female gender to the same level as the male gender. And by successfully doing so, the issues that are faced by males will naturally be alleviated as well. But the focus must remain on elevating the female gender, it is key that we acknowledge, in this issue, that females are being devalued in society. It is only through an acknowledgement that we can improve. You state that women do better than men in school – I hope you realize that in many places, women don’t even get to go to school. Internationally, there are 4 million fewer boys than girls who are not in school. Furthermore, I’ll be brief about this, studies have shown that girls do better than boys in school because they are more conscientious in note-taking, spend more time on their work etc. Once again, this goes back into societal expectations of females and males and how it stratifies them. In this occasion, it seems to have worked in favour of females but the results of the study certainly seem to show that the issue here is definitely not one of privilege – boys can make the agentic action to work just as hard as girls in school and do just as well. In contrast, when you look at the issues females face with regard to education, these are issues that the girls involved have little say over – they cannot go to school not because they choose not to but because they are structurally prevented from doing so. I have not addressed all the ‘male problems’ you’ve brought up but I hope what I’ve said is enough for you to do your own research and recognize the flaws in what you’re saying.
“At 0:43 she asks what the challenges facing women in fashion. Well… women have it much easier than men in fashion. Just look into a random fashion magazine, most of the models are women.”
And most of the models are women because…? (hint: female bodies are highly sexualized!!!) This is not a positive occurrence – females and female models make up such a large part of the fashion industry because their bodies are commercialized and sexualized and a space to sell goods. The fashion industry promotes a reductive image of women and females and often the female body is situated only as a site for the male gaze and male pleasure. This is not empowering. This does not mean women have it much easier than men in fashion.
“At 0:46 the woman says the issue is about women not having equality, but does not give any examples.”
Fair enough, this video is indeed not very thorough in its exploration of gender issues but I hope some of my examples above help detail to you the issues faced by women when it comes to achieving gender equality.
“At 0:53 In fashion, it’s currently impossible for a man to reach the top, because of what the free market wants. It is flipped when it comes to sport, where men earn much more than women. That makes some businesses different in terms of pay, but when it comes to most jobs, the waige gap comes from bad studies. the 77 cent per dollar is everything men earn and everything women earn, not caring about what jobs men and women choose, the time spent working, or how far they are promoted(men are much more likely to ask for a promoting). “
… I’m sorry – what actually is your point here? With regard to the wage gap, it is not calculated by dividing everything men earn by everything women earn. It’s calculated by taking the median annual earnings by women divided by the median annual earnings by men. Meaning it compares the 50th percentile of income of both genders – so irrespective of their jobs, this value compares what a woman in the middle of society earns to what a man in the middle of society earns.
“men are much more likely to ask for a promoting” – … because men tend to feel like they are entitled to a promotion?? And what does that say – that they are privileged in society!!!
“At 1:50 she only says we need to give a better message to WOMEN. not even men and women. There have recently been a call from feminists to get more women into enginering. but… where is the call to get men into nursing. What she says in completely leaving men behind, and if it was said that we need to focus on getting men somewhere, not including women, there would be an outrage among the internet feminists.”
Refer to my answer to your comment at 0:03 – Men don’t go into industries like nursing because they view them as emasculating. Again, when the day comes that society realizes jobs shouldn’t have to be segregated by gender and that jobs believed to be ‘typically’ done by females are not actually lesser and shouldn’t be devalued, men will no longer face stigma for entering into industries like nursing. The issue here is not that men don’t have the freedom to choose their jobs. The issue here is that ‘female-gendered’ jobs are being devalued. That female labour is being devalued.
“At 2:00 He says we need to be careful about women are portryed. I don’t get how limeting women to only what some people think is good, can help women. Some people say we should not show women as objects, while other say we should embrace female beaty. Limiting women will not make them look better in terms of being empowered.”
May I awaken you to the fact that embracing female beauty does not equal portraying females as objects. Embracing female beauty includes embracing the fact that there is a strong, living, agentic woman that is a source of the beauty. Portraying women as objects that are only ‘beautiful’ insofar that they are objects of male consumption ignores the fact that there is a person behind that image, that the woman exists not only to fulfill male desire. What I believe he is saying at 2:00 is that women should not be portrayed as fragile because we already have enough of that narrative being communicated in patriarchal society – that women cannot be strong and take charge, be in power, that they must be taken care of, that they are these weak, fragile, flowers. He is pushing not for a singular, limiting way of looking at women but simply a portrayal of women as strong and capable, no matter what shape or form that might take on. And that, for women, is empowerment – the knowledge that they are strong and they are capable.
“At 2:33 In most cases of people being limites because of gender, alot of times it’s their own choice. if someone are on edge of getting a job, but chooses another because they think it’s a sexist enviorment, they are only limiting themselves, not looking at themselves, or thinking of themselves, as equal.”
What you’re saying is true… for males looking to enter a female-majority work environment. Ref to my answer for 1:50. We live in a patriarchal society – there are instances where women genuinely have no access to certain job spheres. Men are often considered as more suitable candidates for better paying jobs. A quick search on google will bring you to this link (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3168277/Is-Google-SEXIST-Men-shown-jobs-higher-paid-executive-jobs-search-engine-compared-women.html). While it doesn’t mean that women might be wholly prevented from attaining higher paid executive jobs, it does illustrate to you part of the struggle females go through on their job search and climbing up the career ladder. It should not be more difficult for either gender to do so. This inherently reveals the occupational sexism that exists within our society – it is structural, it is not a simple case of females choosing not to enter certain areas or taking on certain jobs.
“At 3:08 Wanting equal reprentation between men and women is a friendly, good intended statement, but if we look at facts, men and women are naturally different. A study was done where babies had toys in front of them, and boys and girls chose different.”
What you’re doing here is conflating the idea that males and females have natural (biological) differences with the idea that we shouldn’t have equal representation for females and males. That is just completely ridiculous. Wanting equal representation across genders is not just a “friendly, good intended statement” but should be a fundamental right. Feminism and wanting equal representation for all genders (regardless of male, female or non-binary genders) is not about disregarding any biological differences between the genders, it is about believing that the opportunities one should receive in society, the agency that one has over one’s own life, should not be dependent on your gender.
“I know it was a bit long, but I just wanted to get my thought out there. please feel free to respond and tell me your prespective. But please, don’t correct me if my grammar sucks, i’m writing this in the middle of the night, and I am only a 16 year old norwegian boy.”
I’m glad that you asked for people to respond and for other perspectives but honestly I was appalled at some of the things you have said and even more appalled at the fact that there were only likes and not dislikes on this comment. HeForShe is not a perfect movement. There is plenty that I believe can be improved on but its issues definitely do not lie in the ‘loopholes’ you have pointed out. I do hope you reconsider you opinions on this issue. Your comment just proves to show exactly why we need feminism in society and how the male ‘right’ to privilege has really been inculcated amongst white cis males like yourself.
Alas, I shall get back to work. Let me know what you think!