The issue of woman’s emancipation is actually about man’s emancipation.
In this video, Jan Eliasson ( the previous Deputy-Secretary General of the United Nations), talks about how Olof Palme, a former Swedish prime minister, explained this to him:
In a nearly fifty year old paper ,“The Emancipation of Man”, Olof Palme, elaborates the matter and highlights the disadvantages of men’s traditional roles. In many parts of the world this paper is still highly topical. In other countries, Palme’s ideas would be regarded as ridiculous. I, as a woman, could even be arrested for posting this blog.
Olof Palme and the “Emancipation of Man”. Some Highlights from the Paper:
“Men have a higher criminal record, more stress and illness due to strenuous work.”
“Men have higher suicide rates and they die at an earlier age than women.”
“In the school, it is the boys who have the greatest adaptation problems.”
“The interpretation was that the social pressure on the man to assert himself, fight his way in life, to be aggressive and not to show any feelings create contact difficulties and adaption difficulties.”
The latter is perhaps the most important statement in the paper. As Jan Eliasson commented, after having taken part in numerous peace negotiations around the world: “I have yet to meet a woman at a negotiating table.”
The Advantages of the Emancipation of Man.
You have a close relationship with your children, ensuring that they will grow up with a kind and caring man as a role model.
- Like a friend of mine said, during his paternity leave, “ and my father missed out on all this.” Men, who change nappies, seldom start wars.
You encourage women to take a stronger role in work, in politics or society in general, because you will benefit from it.
- Gender equality is not something you can afford. It is the other way around: countries become prosperous as a result.
You understand that making decisions together means better decisions.
- Better than the ones you do one your own or in a group of men. “No one is as good as all of us” [Japanese proverb].
You truly enjoy the comradeship of women at work or at home.
- In many cultures women are not regarded as worthwhile companions. In my part of the world many men report that their spouse is their only close friend.
Gender equality is not about losing out, or needing to straighten up. It is about taking the pressure away, not needing to be so manly. It is about being allowed to be yourself. That is real freedom.
- When you feel comfortable in your skin, you will automatically treat other people well. Since you no longer need to prove how powerful you are.
Sexual Harassment is about Power. Nothing else.
Anyone, with access to international news , can hardly have missed the last weeks’ reported scandals on sexual harassment. Not to forget that it is girls and women in poorer, conflict-ridden, patriarchal countries who suffer the most; but seldom get international media’s attention.
Sexual harassment is not about sexual attraction; it is about exercising power. Men with power harass women with less power. Hence, it is about gender equality. I know of women being accused of sexually harassing men, too. It is just that women more seldom are in a position to do so.
The fact that societies enables narcissists and psychopaths to enter powerful positions is another matter.
In terms of gender equality, the focus has been on the emancipation of women. But if we are going to reach real parity, we also need the emancipation of man. And all of us need to contribute to both the emancipation of women and the emancipation of men.
You might think that men are sufficiently emancipated, still holding the majority of leading positions in the world. And in most countries yet the breadwinner and the “head” of the family. However, men are just as trapped in stereotypes and erroneous expectations of what being a man implies, as women, at least partly, still are. The aid industry does not seem to be an exception.
Many men also feel threatened by the empowerment of women; unable to see that it will benefit them also, in the long run. And as a result, men do miss out on a whole range of issues, and do not reach their full potential.
The work towards gender equality between the sexes must be achieved jointly by men and women and not in a struggle against each other.
Gender inequality is an impediment to all of us. When we can free ourselves from the shackles of stereotypes, we will become happier, have energy left to focus on what matters and enjoy real freedom. Because when you do not have to force yourself to act in a certain way you will have got rid of a heavy burden.