This post will be unlike any other that I’ve written. To be more specific, this will be the first time that I weigh in on a national global issue.
I’m going to get straight to the point: I respect women. Women are bold, brave and beautiful. They are strong, swift and smart. They construct bridges, fight wars, run companies, and fly planes and own business. They invent, advise, create, manage, build, guide, consult, design, write and sell. The list goes on and on. If it exists, a woman does it. That’s why I find myself perplexed by the idea that we as a people are battling with the issue of gender equality (or inequality, if you will).
My next sentence will come off as a cliché, but I can’t speak anything more truthful. If it weren’t for a woman, I wouldn’t be here. DUH, I WAS BORN, RIGHT? No. What I mean is many of the most important people in my life are women. Let me start from the beginning.
I’m fortunate enough to have grown up surrounded by women. Although there were some years when I was the annoying little brother, I consider myself very close to both of my big sisters. But while growing up, a point came when they were hardly bigger, just older. Whether they realized it or not, I quickly became “big” brother. The brother that wanted to be there when they needed help, the brother that would listen to their problems, and the brother that would stand up to any man that dared to hurt them.
Standing up for and supporting women is a characteristic that taught to me at an early age. I believe my mom is to thank for that. My mom taught me how to treat people. She guided me along the right path and made me realize early on that women have strength unlike any other; the strength to make tough decisions when other people are counting on you, the strength to provide and work and support yourself. She showed me that women have the strength to conquer fear and pain, not knowing what the future might bring.
I guess I’m among the group of lucky men that learned the value of women early on in life. Now, I’m sharing my life with an amazing woman. My wife inspires and supports me, and I try to do the same for her. She works hard to improve herself, whether through yoga or her photography business. She impresses me every single day, and I would defend her and shame any man that considers her unequal.
It’s clear that major gender issues plague this country, but I would like to address the current issue in the media about Emma Watson being threatened with nude images for her UN Goodwill Ambassador speech. Disgusting. That sums it up. I mean, to threaten a young woman that’s standing up for a movement that if successful can only make the world a better place? Come on, now. We can be better humans than that. Even though this has turned out to be a hoax, this type of behavior in unacceptable and should not be tolerated. Limiting the opportunities available to women accomplishes nothing. If we continue to do it, we will continue to miss out on ideas, creativity and advancements that women are currently fighting to contribute. We need to move on as one.
As a man, I almost feel the need to defend myself. I do not want to be grouped with other men that are willing to go beyond the deepest depths of hell to damage a woman’s reputation or image. But I feel like defending myself isn’t the best course of action. Instead, I promise to defend women. I promise to never use any sort of leverage to threaten or harm a woman. I promise to never assume a woman can’t do a job because she’s not a man. I promise to treat women equally as I would like to be treated. And I promise to stand up for women any time a fellow man decides to consider a woman as anything less than equal. If my feelings and actions make me a feminist, then I accept the title.
If you haven’t seen Emma’s speech, watch it now. She offers insight and statistics about men and women that are eye-opening and (should be) life changing. I’m proud that a fellow millennial is brave enough to use her platform for the greater good. She is definitely a leader worth following.
I’ve read over and over again that to succeed you need to be willing to change. Now is a good time to change. In Emma’s speech, she formally invites both men and woman to actively participate in the issue at hand. Well, Miss Watson, I accept your invitation. Join me by visiting www.heforshe.org and committing to gender equality.