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“He For She”: Men, Feminists, and Gender Equality

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

If you haven’t heard of the recent powerful speech given by Emma Watson for the “He for She” campaign where she called for men to stand up against discriminating women, you must go watch the video now.  The “He for She” campaign, organized by UN Women, is a movement “for gender equality that brings together one half of humanity in support of the other of humanity, for the entirety of humanity.”

Emma Watson’s speech brings to light the reality of most feminists.  Her speech touches me greatly because I have experienced many of the problems she also has faced in proclaiming herself a feminist, such as people calling her “too strong,” “too aggressive,” “isolating,” and “anti-men.” She begs the question, “Why has the word [feminism] become such an uncomfortable one?”

Over this year, the year I have really opened my eyes to the everyday sexism women experience in society, and I too have found that people have placed a negative connotation with the word feminism. One of my best friends always identified herself as a feminist, but always questioned whether to outright call herself one in fear that people would think its too radical. To clarify, feminists are not man haters, as many assume, but actually working toward progressing for an equal playing field among men, in uses such as politics, the workplace, etc. The broad term to define feminism is the “theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.” We are rallying against the double standards that are placed on women but not men. For example, when women do not get paid equally, and when women are not represented politically, to name a few. The purpose of feminism isn’t to destroy the opposite sex, but to overcome sexism integrated into our culture today.

If you agree that women should be equal human beings to men, then why shouldn’t you identify as a feminist? This means, you, men: it is time to stand up for equality because this is not just a woman’s battle to be fought, but as Emma Watson states to all males, “Gender equality is your issue too…I want men to take up this mantle. So their daughters, sisters and mothers can be free from prejudice but also so that their sons have permission to be vulnerable and human too.”  Men need to stand up in addressing discrimination women and girls face every day because the only way to overcome gender inequality is to combine our efforts as men and women.  

So, in celebration of the new “He for She” campaign, here are some male and female feminists much like Emma Watson, who are not afraid to voice their opinions on equality:

Ellen Page

“But I don’t know why people are so reluctant to say they’re feminists. Maybe some women just don’t care. But how could it be any more obvious that we still live in a patriarchal world when feminism is a bad word?”

John Legend

“All men should be feminists. If men care about women’s rights the world will be a better place. We are better off when women are empowered – it leads to a better society.”

Seth Meyers

“When you work with the sort of really strong women that I work with, the idea that anyone would want to make decisions for them is hard to wrap your head around.”

Joseph Gordon-Levitt

“What [feminism] means to me is that you don’t let your gender define who you are — you can be who you want to be, whether you’re a man, a woman, a boy, a girl, whatever. However you want to define yourself, you can do that and should be able to do that, and no category ever really describes a person because every person is unique. That, to me, is what ‘feminism’ means. So yes, I’d absolutely call myself a feminist.”

Amy Poehler

“I just love bossy women. I could be around them all day. To me, bossy is not a pejorative term at all. It means somebody’s passionate and engaged and ambitious and doesn’t mind leading.”

Prince Harry

“When women are empowered, they immeasurably improve the lives of everyone around them—their families, their communities, and their countries. This is not just about women; we men need to recognize the part we play too. Real men treat women with dignity and give them the respect they deserve.”


“We need to stop buying into the myth about gender equality. It isn’t a reality yet. Today, women make up half of the U.S. workforce, but the average working woman earns only 77 percent of what the average working man makes. But unless women and men both say this is unacceptable, things will not change. Men have to demand that their wives, daughters, mothers, and sisters earn more—commensurate with their qualifications and not their gender. Equality will be achieved when men and women are granted equal pay and equal respect.”

You can join the nearly 100,000 men who have signed the He for She movement here!


Works Cited: 1, 2

Gifs: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Freshman at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Feminist who loves broadcast- hence the Journalism major and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies minor. Eatin' sushi, probably.
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