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I’ve always struggled with feminism. Not because I don’t believe in gender equality, of course I do, as surely any sane person does, but simply because I feel the feminist movement has forgotten its true aim. It has become more about burning your bra and hating on men than promoting genuine gender equality. I often find myself burying my face in my hands when my female friends complain of men sexualising women despite the fact five minutes ago they were oohing and aahing over a topless photo of Channing Tatum!

In my opinion, feminism has evolved into a bitter and twisted version of itself and that’s why I’ve never really identified with it. However, last week I came across a speech on TED Talks by Elizabeth Nyamayaro, Executive Director of UN Women, which totally changed my mind! Elizabeth advocates the battle for gender equality should not only be fought by women but by men too. She believes that “what we share is much more powerful that what divides us” and along with her colleagues at UN has developed an initiative which embodies this value, called HeForShe. The aim is to invite men and women to join as allies to create a more equal world through our shared humanity.

The more Elizabeth spoke of empowering men to stand up and fight for women’s rights, and told of the huge success of the campaign; the more I began to feel this was the type of feminism I could identify with. It would also seem that this initiative rings true with many other people too! In the first 3 days of the initiative 100,000 men pledged their support and not long after the Swedish government announced that they would champion HeForShe through closing the gender pay gap by the end of their electoral term!

From my perspective, the current hypocritical, male blaming feminist culture seems to be getting us nowhere fast but a united stance where men are encouraged to join the feminist ranks has already proven to be a great deal more effective at achieving steps towards gender equality. A few days ago I wouldn’t have said I was a feminist, I wouldn’t have wanted to put myself in that box where men are constantly put down (and I certainly don’t want to burn any of my bras!) but now I feel that feminism has a more positive future I can fit in with; where, as Elizabeth states, its focus is on “uplifting us all together.”
Check out Elizabeth Nyamayaro’s TED Talk here.

-Erin Sykes
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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