Emma Watson is the Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women. In her presentation at the United Nations on September 22nd, 2014, she called for men to take action as feminists. She said that when men advocate for freedom for women to be free from prejudice, they can “have permission to be vulnerable and human too. Reclaim those parts of themselves they’ve abandoned. And in doing so, being a more true and complete version of themselves.”
She is exactly right. Injustice to any class of human beings is injustice for all. That includes men, as Ms. Watson observed.
Men, as the gender that has been privileged with power, have a special responsibility to help those who have less power.
As a man, and as a committed feminist, I call for equality for both genders. As a man, I take it upon myself to vigorously advocate for equal rights for women, among the many underprivileged groups of people. That means a number of things. Supporting Emma’s efforts through HeForShe, for one. In addition it means pursuing equal rights of the women in my personal life, of course. And it means advocating revolutionary changes in institutions, such as the U.S. government and its Constitution, towards a functioning modern democracy for, without such institutional changes, corrupt, plutocratic, white male dominance will continue. Here’s why.
Take the United States and the United Kingdom.
In 2014, the U.S. Senate has 20 percent women as its members; the House of Representatives, 18 percent. The United Kingdom House of Commons—23 percent. In other systems, such as those in Scandinavia, Germany, Australia and New Zealand, and in many other nations, the percentages are much closer to 50 percent equality. See here.
The American amending process in Article Five of our Constitution couldn’t even ratify what a vast majority of Americans believe—women should be equal under the law in our society. This proposed amendment, which failed ratification under the absurd supermajorities required, is very simple:
Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.
This is an indication of how undemocratic Article Five is. Thirteen states representing less than five percent of our population can veto the ratification of any amendment under Article Five. A direct ratification approach, using referendum requiring a majority vote, is much more democratic, for democracy is defined by majority rule. This is something most U.S. states practice. So do many other nations.
Only when women are in power in proportion to their numbers in society in businesses and corporations, in governmental agencies and in parliaments and congresses, will our laws and constitutions change.
That happens by updating constitutions and electoral systems along the lines of modern democracies such as those mentioned, which have proportional representation in multi-party systems; public financing of elections; vigorous controls on the undue influence of private and corporate money in election campaigns; and the right of the people to create the governmental features they want through the power of initiative-and-referendum and convention-and-referendum.
To make the dream of empowering women to be equal members of society expressed by Emma Watson a reality, men must rise to the occasion. Men are in power. Therefore men can work with women to do this.
I call on men to support this HeForShe campaign.
• Watch her speech at the UN on the video.
• Take care to support women by supporting HeForShe.
• Be kind to the women in your life. Refrain from abuse. Insist on listening and respecting them.
• Work to democratize your national constitution and electoral system. Do so at the state or provincial level as well.
This is not only good for women of all ages. It is good for men, for doing this is part of the process of reclaiming those parts of ourselves that our society has forced us to abandon, as Emma Watson astutely observed. Parts like the ability to less aggressive and more kind; to help those weaker and in need; to support those who are oppressed by an unjust society—thus to be more complete, more happy, more fulfilled human beings—that is, more true, more complete versions of ourselves.