Creating a fairer society where men and women alike can achieve their full potential is an important goal. However, such equality will only truly be achieved if both men and women actively engage in making it a reality.
As was mentioned by Jo Swinson, minister for women and equalities, “we have seen significant progress in recent years as a generation of men are seeking more ‘hands-on’ fathering roles than those of their fathers or grandfathers. But while men may support gender equality, their participation in achieving it remains low. Why, then, are men not more actively involved in bringing it about?”
This debate is already happening in the UK, as is evident by Emma Watson’s speech to the United Nations upon launching the global HeForShe campaign. At the core of her speech was the argument that men could be feminists, and to create an equal society we need them to be. This was echoed by Kimmel, who is of the belief that we need to unlock the full potential of men as positive agents of change to achieve gender equality.
At a recent Ted event, he claimed to be recruiting men to support gender equality and shared how he, as a man, came to realise the definitive lack of gender equality. He said: “It all happened 30 years ago when a bunch of us graduate students decided, as there was an explosion of writing and thinking in feminist theory, that we would set up a study group. During one of our conversations, I witnessed an interaction between a white woman and a black woman that changed my life forever. After the white woman had suggested that all women faced the same oppression, the black woman asked her what she saw in the mirror when she woke up each morning.”
While the white woman claimed to see a woman, the black woman saw a black woman. She allegedly said that race was invisible to the white woman as privilege was invisible to those who have it.
Despite having wanted to finish his story 30 years ago in that discussion group, he suggested that gender discrimination still ran rampant everywhere. At the forefront of his speech was the concept that we had to make gender visible to men in order to gain their support.
When men first hear about gender equality, Kimmel said, some will see supporting gender equality as something akin to the calvary, “like, thanks very much for bringing this to our attention, ladies, we’ll take it from here.” This results in a syndrome that Kimmel called “premature self-congratulation.”
There’s another group that actively resists gender equality and sees gender equality as something that is detrimental to men. For example, Kimmel was once on a TV talk show opposite four white men who believed they were the victims of reverse discrimination in the workplace. The title of the show was, “A Black Woman Stole My Job”.
“When it was my turn to speak, I said, ‘I have just one question for you guys, and it’s about one word in the title of the show,” Kimmel said. “I want to know about the word ‘my.’ Where did you get the idea it was your job? Why isn’t the title of the show, ‘A Black Woman Got the Job?’ or ‘A Black Woman Got A Job?’ It show that without confronting men’s sense of entitlement, I don’t think we’ll ever understand why so many men resist gender equality.”
But while he established some of the obstacles to engaging men, he also went on to explain why men should support gender equality. Of course, it’s fair, it’s right and it’s just. But more than that, he said, gender equality is in the best interest of men.
Read on to find out how gender equality boost productivity, happiness and sex.
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