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Feminism Is About Gender Equality, So What About Men's Rights?

10/09/2014 11:28 BST | Updated 09/11/2014 10:59 GMT

The gender split in society is clear and things are different in everyday life if you are a man compared to a woman. In discussions on feminism, there is a lot of focus on women's rights, but what about the rights of men too?

Men do have a disadvantage in many areas compared to women. If a man was to walk along the street holding his daughter's hand, onlookers might be quick to judge the scene as something sinister (by other men too). Many men love children too and to say that out loud is often met with a similar suspicion of an air of paedophilia. The same goes for paternity leave - not a common practice to most couples - with the main caring role often going to the women in the eyes of the working sector. There is also a lack of support for men as victims of domestic violence, with figures showing the gender split of victims to be 40% male - which could well be higher in reality with men being historically poor at coming forward for help with health and the negative stigma attached to male abuse. The media often force the idea of what kind of women we are supposed to be attracted to and how we should look (muscly and athletic). Porn also puts a lot of pressure on us to be amazing in bed and have a large penis, or be deemed unworthy as a partner. As men, we also have a lot of expectation to 'make the first move' in a relationship, a daunting and stressful time for most of us (imagine how much dating would change if it was more gender neutral).

Problems are problems; each of which different people will prioritise differently. What is without doubt, is that despite us men facing these issues in everyday life, we certainly do have it better than women do. In comparison, women's lack of equality in so many crucial areas does eclipse many of the issues that men can feel unequal about. Yet, these opinions are often used in comments in feminism discussions/articles/blogs to belittle the progress and aim of feminism as a movement, but they need to be taken into context with the wider issues of gender equality.

A person is more likely to try to change the world for the better for themselves and the gender they belong to. It is not surprising then that women do choose to focus their efforts on women's rights. Fighting for women's rights does not mean you don't want better rights for men too. Of course female feminists do, a lot will have husbands and sons that they want nothing but the best for. It is foolish to assume that feminism is just about women's rights. Surely no-one can blame women for fighting for equality in the light of such oppression from inequality for basic rights that affect them daily.

Simple everyday things such as pay in the workplace still favours men who are often paid more for the same job; the unequal proportion of women in Parliament that is supposed to represent the people of the UK (with about 50% being women to state the obvious); to campaigns for better measures to stop rape and sexual assault with men the main perpetrators towards women, for catcalling and everyday sexism incidents that affect a lot of women daily to stop; for the tax on essential healthcare items such as tampons to not be taxed just as men's razor blades aren't; the portrayal of topless women to sell products at a much higher number than topless men to stop. The list goes on...

There is another perceived problem that some feminists are regarded as being anti-men or being rude to men. This is a big problem for feminism as it really does hinder the cause and reflects badly on what is a very positive movement. Thankfully, these women are in the minority and to think they represent the whole community of feminism is truly ridiculous. There are always going to be some radicals in a campaign that don't align with the mainstream message - just realise that and move on.

Feminism is important to promote change. Just having a 'be nice to everyone as a human being' message has a good foundation of belief, but without pro-activism to target specific inequalities, change would be a lot slower. If a woman wants to campaign for better women's rights, and a man for men's rights, why can't this be seen as striving for the same goal? Women's rights have come so far already in terms of having the vote and other simple and taken for granted freedoms such as the ability to be a doctor: but it doesn't mean the movement should stop now. There is certainly scope for men's rights to improve simultaneously and in co-ordination with women's rights: as the movement of feminism seeks to change.