I have a problem with heforshe, two in fact.
It would be easy to poke fun at Emma Watson and her speech writing mentor (so I have here). In fairness, she will at least be keeping one eye on post franchise ‘Brand Emma’ but I like to think that the other eye is genuinely fixed on the educational prospects of rural African girls.
The problem for me is that the heforshe business model seems to be fundamentally flawed and may ultimately do more harm than good, especially for their target audience.
The key messages of the campaign are these:
- Gender inequalities among women/girls and men/boys continue to manifest in egregious ways around the world.
- Gender equality is not only a women’s issue, it is a human rights issue that affects all of us – women and girls, men and boys. When women are empowered, the whole of humanity benefits.
- HeForShe aims to engage men and boys as advocates and stakeholders, to break the silence, raise their voices and take action for the achievement of gender equality.
Their goal is to get 1 billion men worldwide to sign up to their campaign and ‘take action against all forms of violence and discrimination faced by girls and women’.
I already do the latter but I won’t be signing up any time soon, for one, hopefully fundamentally obvious reason.
EYE is Bloke and besides, people often like to base their opinions on the soundbites of famous people. So I’ll let the ‘Harry Potter Girl’ explain:
To date, I’ve seen my father’s role as a parent being valued less by society, despite my need of his presence as a child, as much as my mother’s. I’ve seen young men suffering from mental illness, unable to ask for help for fear it would make them less of a man. In fact, in the UK, suicide is the biggest killer of men between 20 to 49, eclipsing road accidents, cancer and coronary heart disease. I’ve seen men made fragile and insecure by a distorted sense of what constitutes male success. Men don’t have the benefits of equality, either.
An extremely sharp, generous and funny female friend of mine has a phrase that, I think, effectively and very succinctly sums up the message that Ms Watson, perhaps naively, conveyed to 50% of her audience and 100% of her primary target.
Whats yours is mine and what’s mine is me own.