Feminism shouldn't be a gendered concern. By this I mean that feminism shouldn't be something that only women care about. As a man, I don't profess to need feminism as much as my female friends. I'm not the one being held back because of my gender, or having obscenities thrown at me in the streets. Nevertheless, further improvement in the way that women are treated, and viewed, in our society would be a benefit to me.
Practically speaking, I need feminism because I want my Bank Manager, Prime Minister and Doctor to be the best person for the job, not the best man. If some of the most talented people are held back from being in the right jobs, no matter what that job is, we all suffer. If we had more than 3 female CEOs in the FTSE top 100, or had women making up more than 21% of ministerial posts in the Government, our country might be in a stronger economic position than it is now.
On a more personal note, I have two younger sisters. I don't want their value to be measured by their sex appeal. Nor do I want them to lose out on life opportunities just because they're women. At the beginning of this year, the Office for National Statistics revealed that 1 in 5 women (aged 16-59) have experienced some form of sexual violence since the age 16. That's completely unacceptable. If you find it difficult to connect to this fact, realise that this woman is a sister, mother, friend or daughter, and she could be yours.
Finally, and I'm sure that I speak for most other men on this point, I'm sick of feeling embarrassment and shame at how some men continue to treat, and speak about, women. I'm not just talking about grievous acts of physical, mental or sexual abuse. The lack of respect shown when men talk about a woman as 'a piece of ass', or from any of the personal testimonies shared by campaign groups such as Everyday Sexism, make my skin crawl. I need feminism because I am tired of feeling apologetic of this culture which seems to permeate through almost all sections of our society.
I was inspired to write this following a project, run by Cambridge students, to highlight the continuing relevance of feminism and to allow people to comment on why they felt they still needed feminism in their lives. The campaign was predictably criticised, by some, as being part of a war on men.
I can envisage this article being met with a similar response. These criticisms, however, aren't directed at all men. Some are directed more at institutions than individuals. I'd like to think that, actually, most men would agree with me and are similarly disgusted by the way that women are sometimes treated and spoken about. Ultimately, it's not about a war on men, it's a war on discrimination and objectification. Instead of taking offence, it would be better for men to take action.