Feminism’s Unlikely New Star: Men

From the White House’s “It’s On Us” video and Emma Watson’s powerful speech introducing the He For She campaign to Jessica Valenti’s latest article asking men to help stop sexual assault, guys have been thrust into the feminist spotlight as of late. This call to action is a brilliant tactical move on the part of feminist activists and politicians, if only because men really like to be in charge of fixing things. Seriously though, involving men in the conversation about rape and sexual assault is a crucial step to killing off the victim-blaming discourse of “don’t dress like a slut and get drunk and you won’t get hurt.” While there have been important male contributions to women’s rights for decades (see this Atlantic article for more), these recent (and highly visible) movements are pushing the public to see that violence against women is everyone’s problem more than ever before.

Points to the White House for choosing Jon Hamm as the opening speaker in this PSA: as an actor known for embodying good old boy misogyny with ease, his presence is particularly poignant.

Let’s also hear it for Watson’s comments on feminism that bear repeating ad nauseum (particularly to those Women Against Feminism who think we’re all too hard on the poor men out there): “The more I have spoken about feminism, the more I have realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop. For the record, feminism, by definition, is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.”

In all this excitement about men being asked to publicly participate in feminist action, however, hopefully we won’t gloss over who these movements are really about, first and foremost.