Bianca Jagger, Michael Sheen and Sadiq Khan made the case for men getting involved in the women’s movement.
It’s an unfortunate truth that many people still hold firm to two related beliefs: first, that all feminists hate all men; and second, that there is absolutely no place for men in the modern women’s movement. But at Care International’s #March4Women on Sunday, several speakers took to the stage to call on men to get on board with feminism.
At a rally at Westminster before the march began, activist Bianca Jagger provided the perfect retort to people who accuse feminists of being ‘against men’. After paying tribute to the Time’s Up movement, the 72-year-old social and human rights activist revealed that she’d been asked a troubling question earlier that day.
“Today a journalist said to me: ‘Don’t you think that there will be a backlash from men, because they think that [women] are fighting against them?’” said Jagger, who was dressed as a suffragette.
“No! We are not fighting against you,” she continued. “We’re not fighting against the men that love us, the men that we love, our children, our fathers, our grandfathers or brothers!
“We are fighting against those men that want to rape us, that want to sexually assault us, that want to belittle us, that won’t listen to us.
“Those are the men that we are fighting against – and I hope that you are fighting too.”
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and actor and activist Michael Sheen also spoke about the importance of men supporting feminism at the #March4Women.
“This year, more than ever, we need to take stock of how much there is left to do to tackle the huge inequalities women still face,” said Khan. “Gender equality is not just a fight for women and girls, it is important for all of us to step up.”
Sheen read out a 1905 pro-women’s suffrage speech by the Scottish socialist politician Keir Hardie, before calling on modern men to get behind feminism in the same way.
“For men today, it costs us nothing to join this movement for gender equality,” he said. “Indeed, equality is good for everyone.
“For women – by which I mean all women – the right to live, learn, earn and thrive free from discrimination and violence is long overdue. And for men, the prize is a world that is fair – where any advantage afforded us is one we have fairly earned – and we may live with our sisters, mothers, daughters and friends on fair and just terms.
“We must cast off the ludicrous notions of masculinity that cause such misery for us all.”
While men should never be the focal point of feminism, it’s absolutely correct that genuine gender equality will only be achieved with the support of male allies – and it’s equally true that all genders will reap the benefits of dismantling destructive patriarchal norms. Here’s to more men embracing feminism in 2018.
To see all of the most inspirational, powerful and uplifting moments from CARE International’s annual #March4Women as it happened – check out our liveblog right here.
Images: Rex Features