As a middle-aged man I never felt feminism had anything to do with me. It was the woman's battle for equality. Whilst I may have agreed with their ethos and end goals it was, and always would be their fight. It was only when listening to Emma Watson's amazing speech to the UN that I realised how wrong I was.
Queen Bey recently displayed her feminist credentials in neon lights at the MTV Video Music Awards. She's a great medium to deliver the feminist message, but does it matter that she clearly benefits from people objectifying her (not to mention benefits from being married to a rapper who made millions singing about bitches, hoes and pimpin')?
Whether it's campaigners receiving death threats, an actress being harassed for hours in New York, mass kidnappings, genital mutilation, unequal pay, or a programmer receiving death threats over a false allegation of attempted media influence, women seem to get a raw deal in life. It's puzzling that there are so many guys out there that still have such a warped view of what it means to be a man.
You actually called yourself a Feminist the other day and I couldn't have been more surprised or prouder. I asked you if you'd refer to yourself as a Feminist and you said "Yes I'm a Feminist- unreservedly. As a proselytising libertarian, I believe in freedom, equality and the rights of all men, which includes women". I thought- wow, that's my dad. The Feminist. My hero.
I find Gwyneth Paltrow's goop website a bit weird or Donny Osmond's wig on last weeks Strictly Come Dancing, but feminism itself? If indeed there is something unnatural or unearthly about this so-called 'crossroads' we hashtag-feminists are tweeting at, is it right to finger-blame an entire movement? I'm not sure that it is, really.
Although she is absolutely right, not all countries measure gender equality on a pay scale. In many communities in India, for example, a housewife is seen as being of equal value to a breadwinner, or priceless. And for any feminist approach to work effectively in the country, it needs to recognise the distinct values upheld by such cultures.
In 2004 I embarked, somewhat foolishly and naively, on a journey to write a trilogy of books about masculinity. In 2013 the third book was published, I sighed in relief, they had consumed nine years of my life. During the writing hiatuses I would tour a one-man show in which I experimented with concepts and ideas for the books. Those were tough times.
When Queen Bey stands in front of a 10ft tall feminist sign (both figurative and literal) then, sure, others will follow. What was once considered a dirty word has now become the height of fashion, but how long will the fad last? Like all fashions I fear that by the end of the year feminism will be out and something else will be in.
British engineering is facing a serious skills shortage. Yesterday, the think tank IPPR published a report claiming that 'an additional 87,000 graduate level engineers will be needed in the UK each year between now and 2020' in order to meet growing demand, but that 'the higher education system is only producing 46,000 engineering graduates annually'. Well as a starter for ten, that maths doesn't look good.
Changing the law cannot be a substitute for improving the police response. However, legislative change signals training and awareness and can drive culture change to better protect women and children, hold perpetrators to account and effectively lead to a reduction in murder. And police, prosecutors and courts must have the best possible tools to do their job and keep victims and their children safe.
I believe my inner feminist has always been within me. Far from lying dormant, it has been growing since I was child. I grew up in a house with four other females and one male. Only when I went to school and started learning of gender inequalities (the lack of education is argued to be the epitome and root of gender inequality) I came to realise how much I was in the minority, as too was my father.
The "I know it's hard for you too" spiel serves to provide a cup of hot chocolate and a cosy blanket for men, so that they don't have to feel threatened. As if their existential privilege isn't enough to keep them warm at night, it is apparently important that we also softly stroke their foreheads and validate their issues as being equal to the oppression faced by women.
It is unfair to blame any stigma around the feminist movement solely on the media representation of an archetypal feminist. I don't believe a true feminist hates men - they simply aspire to live life on a level playing field. Women should have equal pay. Men should have their parental value equally compensated. Equality gaps exist for both sexes ergo both sexes have a motivation to achieve parity.
Emma's set out the direction we need to head in, but in order to genuinely permeate our society's consciousness on the gender issue for good, we need to re-tune our media's frame of reference. Just think how many girls came to know of Emma's addressing the UN via an article dominated by images of her outfit...