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Guest Blogger from Mason’s 2014 Nonprofit Fellows program:

On Saturday, September 20, 2014, actress and goodwill ambassador for U.N. Women, Emma Watson, appeared before the United Nations to discuss a new campaign called “HeforShe.”  The goal of this campaign is to involve men actively in the effort to end violence against women.   Proponents of the effort to reduce violence against women often acknowledge what women should do to prevent or avoid it, but men have as important a role to play in the effort. During her presentation, Watson asked her audience, “How can we affect change in the world when only half of it is invited or feel [sic] welcome to participate in the conversation?  Men — I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation.  Gender equality is your issue, too.”

Many critics of Watson’s presentation assumed that she was ideologically feminist, and feminism is too often dismissed as being tantamount to “man-hating.”  This assumption is false.  The definition of the word actually means the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.

When I attended the United States Coast Guard Academy, a predominantly male environment, I was subject to unfair, and even at times misogynistic, treatment, because I was among a tiny minority of females enrolled at the academy.  I did not receive the same opportunities as male cadets; the administration, professors, staff, and fellow male students talked down to me; I was harassed, yelled at, and disrespected, often because my male colleagues did not think that women should serve in the armed forces.  In part, for this reason, I left the academy.

Women cannot end violence against women alone.  Men must participate in the effort.  They must recognize that in ceasing to limit women, they will empower fellow citizens, and ultimately their country.

Blogger:  Hannah is a senior at George Mason University with drive and blonde ambition.

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