This week we hear the news that The Sun is quietly dropping Page 3. I have been one of the many campaigning to end page 3 since #nomorepage3 was set up by Lucy-Anne Holmes in 2012. Whilst David Dinsmore's response to the campaign over the years has lacked any real acknowledgment of the social problem created for women by the page (preferring to concentrate his response on the irrelevance of how many sales the paper makes) many men have stood up with women to push the point home. Just see the supporters' T-Shirt pic!
In fact, this has been my main take out from the campaign, women and men standing collectively against what they see as outdated misogyny.
'He for She' ( to coin Emma Watson's term).
This is an uplifting sign of a shared view of equality. One I think women should also extend to the inequalities that men experience.
'She for He' and 'He for She'
To paint a picture of how inequalities work both ways, in the past few years I have had countless conversations with men who want a similar opportunity as their female partner to spend time with their children but who daren't mention it to their manager. They weren't alone - in a recent survey 84% of men supported new leave for fathers - yet one in five of these men said that their employers would be actively opposed to them taking so much leave. I have also had countless similar conversations with women who have faced bullying at work when they have become pregnant and felt they couldn't do anything about it ( last year, it's estimated 50, 00 women were forced out their job for this reason). I also read accounts that show women still don't progress as quickly (or get paid the same) as male colleagues.
Both scenarios have a particularly gendered prejudice behind them. It's badly seen for a man to request parental leave (for him it is still seen as a choice, a luxury even, it's not a priority to parent). At the same time, maternity leave has been the most touted justification for all forms of workplace sexism for decades.
The big thing these conversations make clear to me is that, whilst many share the view that men and women should be equal, equality has a long way to go, for both men and women!
There are an increasing number of campaigns speaking with both a male and female voice. Makeithappen2015 is an online conversation that any member of the public, male or female can join in the run up to the elections to talk about equality for men and for women. Hosted by the Equality Movement. Discussions are being shared with politicians of the 3 main parties so that they take on the subject (and take it seriously) in their respective election campaigns
We are also seeing more blogger networks expanding to include men. The well-known 'Mumsnet' has been a blueprint for how networking can raise awareness of rights and can create change. Now more than ever, men need to be included in that conversation and sure enough, peer to peer network Citymothers expanded to Cityfathers in April of last year so fathers can also create the networks and get the advice they need to achieve the choices they want in work and family life.
#nomorepage3 is succeeding in challenging an old fashioned idea that a woman's relevance to society is limited to her reproductive appeal . It is doing this with a mass voice of both genders. I look forward to more campaigns where men and women come together for a society where our choices are not limited by whether we be male or female. He for She. She for He. Us .