On this week's Question Time, the opening question was from a young woman to the panel, about whether or not Page 3 in the Sun had had its time and should be ended. The politicians on the table squirmed to give a good answer; the deputy UKIP leader took the opportunity to widen the discussion to try and highlight his knowledge of other major female issues, namely female genital mutilation. While he could certainly claim the stats, his answers (as I am sure you'll agree) didn't convince me he genuinely cared about these issues. The other panellist's answers were equally flat, with all of them answering from their self-serving perspectives and the many one issue politics that seem to be the way we do things now.
If one of them had said "I don't really think Page 3 is an issue", as most people in Britain don't, I'd have thought "finally! A genuine answer and some honesty!". Instead, once again the panellists on Question Time simply tried to turn the discussion into empty platitudes which they hoped would win them some swing voters, things they didn't really believe.
Often, I see the same thing in the newspaper columns, when women argue for womens' rights, black people argue for black peoples' rights and white people argue for white peoples' rights. All of these self-serving perspectives forgetting one important factor; no-one issue can be resolved by itself. We must remember that all of these issues are society issues and they involve all parts of society to help us fix these problems.
Emma Watson's fantastic speech at Davos this week is the first time I have heard an influential leader of womens' rights stating that the solution to global gender inequality is mens' problem as well as it is womens'. She went one step further, showing that men are also struggling in the modern world, with young men especially not knowing their place and how to act.
Emma said "Men - I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation...Gender equality is your issue too". And it is about time men took a long hard look at themselves and took action on this gender equality issue.
Before her previous UN speech, Emma Watson was threatened with the leak of nude pictures that were believed to have been hacked from her mobile phone. Despite this threat, Emma bravely continued with her campaign of #heforshe which promotes gender equality. This made me think of a few things;
First, why are men so terrified of a strong woman that they will resort to threatening to use stolen photos of her to keep her down? A weak man threatens a woman, not a strong man. The conversations on the web about all of the nude celebrity photos were dominated by men who wanted to degrade the very beautiful and successful women who had their privacy breached. I remember one man quoted as saying "well they shouldn't have taken the photo if they didn't want me to see it". These aren't page 3 models (who we should note are very happy to have their pictures taken and shown to the world, and that's their choice!), these are women who shared intimate photos with people they trusted. They have that right and men, we must protect their right to do this and respect women for their choices. You'll show yourself as truly powerful when you protect the rights of others, not when you demean them.
Second, why can't men recognise that women like Emma are trying to help society recognise the proper place of men and women in society? Emma herself admits she needed her father and doesn't like the way society treats men in broken families. Let us not forget either boys, that it is the lack of male role models and absentee fathers which is the cause of many of our modern day issues. We have to take responsibility for it.
Finally, as I try to be unbiased, why is it so few women are able to recognise and celebrate mens' place in society like Emma has done? So many feminist arguments read as though they hate men so much, they believe the world would be better without them. Men and women need to view gender equality as an issue for the whole of society.
Emma Watson says in her speech "young men; have you spoken up when a woman was casually degraded or dismissed?". I want to expand that statement, as Emma has only gone halfway. The question I want to ask is "men and women; have you spoken up when a person was casually degraded or dismissed?".
We all have a role in our society to make it fairer. It begins by celebrating one person's, in this case Emma's, role in trying to raise the awareness of it. Whether you are a man, or a woman, gay or straight, black or white, action must be taken to remove inequality in our society.