By Sally Kearins and Anna Garnsey
Want to know what Harry Styles, Chris Hemsworth and Steph Curry all have in common – and no, it’s not being number 1 in our search history – they are all in fact proud feMENists. Yes. If you thought they couldn’t get any more attractive, sorry, but they just did.
As we all know by now “gender equality is not just a ‘women’s issue’ (Julia Gillard). At the very epicentre of the movement and, for it to really have any real influence, is the idea that women need men, and men need women. Equally. As a society, we tend to focus minutely on how the feminist movement works to raise up women and aid them in overcoming challenges that humanity unjustly imposed, and whilst this is accurate, the movement also seeks to put an end to the patriarchal persecution that men suffer too. The oppressed nature of men's mental health resulting 1 out of 8 men suffering from severe depression globally, the neglected post-war care of ex-veterans leading to 500 suicides every decade in Australia, the unjust stereotypes of fathers causing only 8% of US citizens to believe that a child benefits from a stay-at-home dad compared to a mother, and the 7 in 9 men who commit suicide each day in Australia....makes it shocking to see that only 33% of US men consider themselves a feminist.
Nevertheless, these 33% of feMENists - and of course out beloved Harry Styles, Chris Hemsworth and Steph Curry – are unbenouncly vital in pushing forward the feminist movement and pathing the pathway for empowered women to stride on. Of course, it would be ignorant to completely ignore the other 67% of men who, like the ‘Men's Rights Activists Group’ see “the efforts to enhance the rights of women…[as] toxic efforts to undermine the rights of men''. It is this sort of narrative that has been plastered in mainstream media since the 1st wave of feminism, and damaged the success of gender-equality imperatively.
“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.” – John Legend
It is vital that those pioneering in modern-day feminism do not neglect past chapters in the story they continue to write. We have learned throughout history that it is through enlisting the support of those men who share their principles that has allowed women to forge their place alongside them, as counterparts. Female empowerment at the cost of male empowerment risks losing these invaluable allies. The importance of recognising the efforts of these allies has been somewhat understated in recent decades, which could be a contributory factor to the alarmingly small numbers of men willing to identify as feminist, for fear of association with its redefined label.
Studying those men who were eager to work beside women at a time when it caused more than a raised eyebrow is perhaps a route to reminding both sexes of the core values of the feminist movement. Take Marquis de Dondorcet, the French mathematician and philosopher turned leader of the French Revolution, who campaigned for the right of women to citizenship. This concept is now an intrinsic expectation. Take Daniel Anthony, father to the famed female activity Susan B. Anthony, who opened his own school after his daughter’s refused to teach her mathematics. Perhaps some of us would not have immediate feelings of gratitude when math is mentioned, but the very fact that schools like Loreto exist today, with its array of opportunities, is a tribute to the perseverance of countless feminists, and feMENists, who it must be remembered are one and the same.
The realities of girls today reflect the dreams of those two hundred years ago. The stories of resilience and spirit that have emerged in this time quickly become lost in the complexities of a modern age overrun with social media and the rapid-firing of misleading information. But it is through this understanding that we overcome such obstacles. So, in this week of celebrating the supergirls of our world and their achievements, it is key to also commemorate and encourage the feMENists of our society so that one day we may achieve a gender-balance where the feminist movement is no longer needed.