Earlier today, President Obama delivered an unforgettable speech at the 2016 United State of Women Summit in Washington, DC.
In addition to addressing several important issues pertaining to the welfare of women and young girls across the world including equal pay, education and sexual assault awareness and prevention, the President also opened his speech with a powerful proclamation. “I may be a little grayer than I was eight years ago, but this is what a feminist looks like,” he declared before a room full of predominantly female attendees. Although his statement was a simple one, the underlying message of its’ meaning spoke volumes about the type of mindset that most men should have when it comes to the topic of women’s rights.
While many men may feel that long-standing practices or generational thought processes discriminating against or limiting women don’t directly affect their own livelihoods, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Any man who has a mother, grandmother, sister, wife, daughter, goddaughter, aunt, girlfriend, female cousin or even just close female friends whom they care about should be as concerned with supporting equality for women on all levels as women themselves. Reason being, policies affecting things like a hard-working woman’s ability to match the earning potential of her male counterparts or policies hindering a woman’s willingness to come forward with traumatizing negative experiences involving men will only prove to affect how she operates in other areas of her life as a wife, mother, educator, political figure, social influencer or any other role that ultimately plays a significant part in shaping the daily lives of households around the world.
Feminism is defined as the belief than men and women should have equal rights in all areas of life and equal access to opportunities. Why should this be a belief that is only shared among women when it ultimately affects the functionality of the entire population?
The short answer is, it shouldn’t.
President Obama making it a point to publicly join the fight for gender equality is definitely inspiring. But the truth is, the driving factor behind men wanting to step up and stand beside women in this battle should be one born out of their own desire to want to live in a world where every person is truly free to excel to their full potential without limitation.
After all, the future of the world your young children will soon grow to face on their own is at stake; why wouldn’t you be proud to join the fight?