Gender inequality isn't just a female problem

Men who think it’s OK to casually threaten a woman with rape need to hear other men – alongside women – challenge that

Share

At a recent London rap battle, a male rapper thought it would be a good idea to shoot the following words towards his female sparring partner: "After this, in the alley you're gonna get raped."

Although it was voiced in an environment where almost any insult goes, the threat produced angry waves across the crowd, causing Nihal, a male BBC radio presenter, to jump into the ring and confront the rapper.

It has been suggested that it wasn’t Nihal’s place to get involved, that he should have left the female rapper to deal with it herself, and there are those who argue that the fight to end gender inequality is a battle that men should stay away from – that male involvement is an insult to female proficiency.

Although I’ve felt strongly about inequality since I hit my teenage years, I was a bit slow to cotton on to the fact that I’m a feminist – mainly because I thought it was an ‘anti-man’ thing. This was a problem because I really wanted to be like Wesley Crusher off ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’, and how could I be anti that guy? (I was so enthusiastic that my mum actually made me a Star Trek uniform. I know that probably sounds a bit sad, but er… I was so cool that I was effectively wearing a onesie at least 15 years before it became trendy.)

Since having the revelation that I am in fact a feminist (much to the amusement of my family who had known this for about 10 years beforehand and not bothered to tell me), I’ve realised that the fight against inequality isn’t ‘anti-male’ at all.

The thing is, we won’t see radical change until every part of society sees this as their problem too. Gender inequality isn’t just a problem for women, it’s a problem for all of us. It’s not just a female issue – it’s a human issue. Labelling gender inequality exclusively as a ‘women’s issue’ can offer men an excuse to dismiss it as nothing to do with them.

There are certain parts of our culture that are still male-dominated, where there is male apathy or blatant animosity towards fighting sexism – either because women are not present in those situations, or because some men simply don’t care about what a woman has to say on this issue. This does my head in, but it’s the unfortunate status quo. Take for example the Tory front bench or working men's clubs, or brothels. Here, whether we like it or not, women are sidelined, we need the men on the inside to speak out.

Men who think it’s OK to casually threaten a woman with rape need to hear other men – alongside women – challenge that. We need to create a cultural climate where abusive behaviour and sexism are seen as unacceptable. One of the best outcomes from that rap battle was the immediate outrage of the crowd – both women and men voiced their dissent and the rapper lost status as a result.

Let me be upfront: it is not easy. Standing up can come at a cost. The many courageous women who have spoken out in spite of threats, insults, and internet trolling know this too well. But the alternative is to allow our silence to act as a form of consent to what we’re witnessing.

To the men reading this, there are things you can do. Have the courage to speak up if your female colleague receives lesser pay for doing the same job, or when your friend throws out a sexist comment. It’s not about implying that women don’t have the capacity to stand up for themselves – it’s about stepping up and saying that this is not OK. Get involved, because this battle will end sooner if we fight it together.

Read more on equality: Why are so few MPs women? Labour's female frontbench cannot hide the bigger inequality problem

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits  

So who, really, is David Cameron, our re-elected ‘one nation’ Prime Minister?

Andrew Grice
Time travel: Thomas Cook has been trading since 1841  

A horror show from Thomas Cook that tells you all you need to know about ethical consumerism

Janet Street-Porter
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?