TIME feminism

Jennifer Lawrence Breaks Silence on Nude Photo Hack: ‘It’s a Sex Crime’

Vanity Fair Cover Jennifer Lawrence November 2014
Vanity Fair

"It is not a scandal. It is a sex crime."

Jennifer Lawrence has broken her silence over her stolen nude photos that were leaked online this summer, telling Vanity Fair in an interview excerpt published Tuesday the hack was “not a scandal. It is a sex crime.”

In the November cover story, Lawrence recalled trying to address the leak—which affected more than 100 celebrities—but “every single thing that I tried to write made me cry or get angry. I started to write an apology, but I don’t have anything to say I’m sorry for. I was in a loving, healthy, great relationship for four years. It was long distance, and either your boyfriend is going to look at porn or he’s going to look at you.”

Lawrence also strongly condemned those who perpetuated the violation against her privacy.

“Anybody who looked at those pictures, you’re perpetuating a sexual offense,” she said. “You should cower with shame. Even people who I know and love say, ‘Oh, yeah, I looked at the pictures.’ I don’t want to get mad, but at the same time I’m thinking, ‘I didn’t tell you that you could look at my naked body.'”

But even as the actress told the emotional story of telling her father what happened—”I don’t care how much money I get for The Hunger Games, I promise you, anybody given the choice of that kind of money or having to make a phone call to tell your dad that something like that has happened, it’s not worth it”—she maintained her signature humor.

“Fortunately, he was playing golf, so he was in a good mood.”

The 3,000 word piece will be available in Vanity Fair’s digital edition on Oct. 9, then on newsstands nationwide Oct. 14.

TIME feminism

When Men Are the Loudest Feminists

Male and female symbols
Fanatic Studio—Getty Images/Collection Mix: Subjects RF

Can—and should—men be spokespeople for underrepresented women?

“Where are all the women?”

That was the question Vivek Wadhwa’s wife whispered to him at the 2009 “Crunchies Awards” – the tech industry’s Oscars.

It’s been five years since her question woke Wadhwa to the male homogeneity of Silicon Valley. Since then, the professor, researcher, entrepreneur, and Foreign Policy “Top 100 Global Thinker” has re-routed his career to study gender in the tech industry, finding that “despite how we glamorize it, Silicon Valley has a dark side.” He saw that dark side up close when industry insiders and strangers alike unleashed vitriolic tirades against him on social media and in real life for bringing attention to his wife’s question. His response to these critics? “Call me a feminist,” he says. “It will make my day.”

Wadhwa’s desire to expose these gender disparities for a general audience and to create a forum for women in tech whose voices weren’t being heard was a driving force behind his recently published book Innovating Women: The Changing Face of Technology. And yet, part of the response to the book has raised an even bigger question about the gender parity movement in all fields, not just tech. It’s one that Emma Watson also recently addressed. Can – and should – men be spokespeople for underrepresented women?

A form of that question came out at a recent New America event where Wadhwa spoke to Breadwinning and Caregiving Program Director Liza Mundy about the inspiration and impact of his new book. It also popped up on Twitter during, and after, the event.

Why, one audience member wanted to know, was Wadhwa speaking for women? Would he cede a keynote speech to a female speaker or insist that a producer contact a woman to do a media appearance in his place? Wadhwa indicated that he is mindful of the dissonance but also realistic about his media appeal: he has a platform and wants to use it. Right or wrong, he is now a prominent voice on gender issues in Silicon Valley, and he views his choice as a dichotomous one: to speak, or not to speak, about the injustices confronting women and minority entrepreneurs. If you see injustice and you don’t speak, he said, you are complicit in it.

He emphasized one particularly insidious injustice that often goes unnoticed: the process of “pattern recognition,” when Silicon Valley venture capitalists choose who to fund based on a proven preferential “type.” It’s a wordsmith’s code for overt discrimination, and something he spotlights in his introduction to the book.

Exposing “pattern recognition” lays bare the deeper sexism and double standards common in Silicon Valley. While PayPal’s Peter Thiel has garnered praise for offering high school students money not to attend college, Wadhwa says too many VCs and tech executives still get away with lamenting the dearth of qualified female and minority candidates in the “pipeline” of STEM education. In a supposed meritocracy, why must minority applicants possess postgraduate degrees in computer science while board members of companies like Twitter can get away with having no degree at all?

But if we are talking meritocracy, the facts on women should speak for themselves. After his awakening in 2009, Wadhwa revisited his own research studies on entrepreneurship to incorporate and analyze data on gender, a perspective he freely admits he overlooked the first time around. He found that female tech entrepreneurs showed lower rates of failure, were more capital-efficient and had parity with men in STEM education. And yet women were virtually invisible in venture capital and on the boards and management of top companies like Apple. A recent study from the Diana Project at Babson College found that as recently as last year, 97 percent of the companies that got VC funding were led by men and only 15 percent of the companies had a woman on their executive teams.

To Wadhwa’s mind, Silicon Valley has always been an unrepentant boys’ club where women and people of color are barred from the inner circles and the investment bounty of venture capitalists always seems to find its way into the coffers of entrepreneurs who look more like Mark Zuckerberg than Michelle Obama.

He recounted several stories from Innovating Women to illustrate his disgust with the gendered underbelly of Silicon Valley’s startup culture. Kim Polese of Marimba sold her company for half a billion dollars but became a cautionary tale of “failure,” while Heidi Roizen, a rare female venture capitalist, was subjected to sexual harassment and outright assault by colleagues and potential clients. Mundy, who moderated the event, raised the counter-example of older, more established companies like Xerox and GM, where gender diversity initiatives have been largely successful and where HR policies against harassment structure a more traditional workplace environment. As the workplace continues to evolve, Mundy asked, how should we promote innovation and protect employees from harassment and discrimination?

The book is striking a chord with readers who are asking themselves that very question. Wadhwa gets emails every day from women thanking him or telling him they are giving it to their daughters who, unlike their mothers, now have access to girls’ coding camps and the like to develop their confidence and skills. This response to the book, in combination with a growing network of both institutional and informal female mentorship and Google’s recent decision to break ranks with other tech giants by sharing their personnel data on gender, emboldens his relatively positive outlook for the future. His next frontier is to demand that VCs release their own gender data, just as Google has, and to erode what he called the “family unfriendly” nature of many startups.

Women are, in Wadhwa’s words, “now primed to lead the next generation of innovation: every data point you look at says the future belongs to women.”

And he has no plans to stop promoting that message. “The good news is that women, men and the media are now talking about it,” he said.

Jane Greenway Carr is an American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Public Fellow and a Contributing Editor at New America. This piece was originally published in New America’s digital magazine, The Weekly Wonk. Sign up to get it delivered to your inbox each Thursday here, and follow @New America on Twitter.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME politics

Kirsten Gillibrand On Why She Hates the Phrase ‘Having It All’

The Senator from New York opens up about appearance, sexism and how competitive sports helped her succeed

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) hates the phrase “having it all.”

“I think it’s insulting,” she told TIME’s Nancy Gibbs at the Real Simple/TIME Women & Success Panel Wednesday night. “What are you ‘having?’ A party? Another slice of pie?”

“‘All’ implies that a woman staying home with her kids is somehow living a life half-full. What we’re really talking about is doing it all. How do we help women do all the things they want to do?”

Gillibrand knows a thing or two about doing it all. The junior Senator from New York has spent much of her five years in office fighting to address sexual assaults in the military and on college campuses, all while raising two young boys. She opens up about her journey in a new book, Off the Sidelines, which included a bombshell revelation that some of her fellow Senators had made comments about her weight, including the now-infamous “porky” comments. She dedicates a whole chapter in her book to how a hyper-focus on appearance affects women who run for office.

(MORE: Frozen Songwriter Kristen Anderson-Lopez on Her ‘Aha’ Moment)

“In my first race, my opponent went after me twice on two different kinds of appearance digs: the first was she’s just a pretty face, meaning I’m far too stupid to be in Congress. And I said ‘thank you,'” she said. “The second one was negative campaign mailers where he used a very unattractive picture of me where I happened to be doing a press conference outside and my hair is waving wildly. And he tints it green, so I looked like this crazy witch with crazy hair and a green face—as if to say ‘how could you possibly trust this woman?'”

“They’ve studied this and they’ve found when [a woman]’s appearance is commented on publicly during a campaign, it undermines her; it actually hurts her,” the Senator said. “And it doesn’t matter if the comment is positive or negative. It undermines her credibility.”

But how did Gillibrand gain the confidence to continue running for office, despite her detractors? She attributes a lot of that bravery to playing competitive sports as a girl. “When you play on a soccer team or a squash team, you lose a lot, so you’re not afraid of being in a competitive situation,” she said. “I all of a sudden realized you can win by losing. When you play a tough match, when you compete, you learn a lot about your opponent.”

She also learned through competitive sports that losing can be “a gift.”

(MORE: Tamron Hall on How Not Getting Jobs Helped Her Succeed)

“If you’re willing to fail, you’re willing to compete,” she said. “You will not only learn faster, but that fear is eliminated.”

She added that mentorship helps a lot in navigating those moments when you do fail. She said Hillary Clinton has taken a few moments here and there over the course of her career to guide her in the right direction, and it’s helped her immensely, encouraging audience members to reach out to other young women in a mentorship capacity.

“[Clinton] helped me make the right decisions at the right time,” she said.

(MORE: Kirsten Gillibrand on the 2014 TIME 100)

But Gillibrand was careful to add that, for her, success wasn’t just about empowering professional women to achieve their goals–it was also about helping poor women. “We have to break the glass ceiling, but we also have to clean the sticky floor,” she said, noting that women are the sole or primary breadwinners in 4 out of 10 American families. “All of these women who are working to provide for their kids also need basic support.”

In order to help those women, the U.S. workforce needs paid family leave, equal pay, and universal pre-K, she said, adding that we’re unlikely to see those advancements until there are more women in Congress. Gillibrand pointed to the debate over contraception as an example of how out-of-touch the mostly-male legislature is with women’s issues, noting that 98% of American women have taken some form of contraception in their lives.

“Basic rights that our mothers and grandmothers successfully fought for are still on the table,” she said. “I can guarantee you that if Congress was 51% women, we wouldn’t be wasting a day on whether women should have affordable contraception. We would be talking about the economy.”

TIME feminism

Watch Taylor Swift Praise Emma Watson for Her UN Feminism Speech

The singer applauds the actress for serving as a positive role model for young women

Taylor Swift, who recently explained how Girls creator and star Lena Dunham helped her realize she was a feminist, is now praising another famous actress for her message of female empowerment.

In an interview with French-Canadian talk show Tout Le Monde En Parle, Swift said that actress Emma Watson’s recent speech at the United Nations’ He for She event will help inspire young girls and help them understand feminism. When asked the intense reaction to Watson’s speech, Swift said spoke about the overwhelmingly positive response she saw from her young, female fan base. She also said that if she had had a strong feminist role model at a young age, she would have declared herself as one earlier:

The only thing that I saw was incredible acclaim and praise, and that’s just me going off of what I’m tuned into which is my fan base of real girls out in the world living their lives. And when they saw their favorite actress get up in front of the UN and say what she said, I wish when I was younger, I wish when I was 12-years-old I had been able to watch a video of my favorite actress explaining in such an intellectual, beautiful, poignant way the definition of feminism. Because I would have understood it. And then earlier on in my life I would have proudly claimed I was a feminist because I would have understood what the word means.

Swift argues that many young girls, including her younger self, associate feminism with negativity when it simply means equality among the genders.

So many girls out there say, “I’m not a feminist” because they think it means something angry or disgruntled or complaining or they picture, like, rioting and picketing. It is not that it all. It just simply means that you believe that women and men should have equal right and opportunities, and to say that you’re not a feminist means you think men should have more rights and opportunities than women. I just think a lot of girls don’t know the definition, and the fact that Emma got up and explained it I think is an incredible thing, and I’m happy to live in a world where that happened.

The definition of feminism has become a hot-button topic among female celebrities this year. Many stars have declared themselves not to be feminists because they “love men.” But others, like Swift, have asserted a simpler definition of feminism that does not involve hating men: for example, in her song “Flawless,” Beyoncé samples a speech from Nigerian-born writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie who defines a feminist as “a person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.”

In other parts of the interview, Swift offered her views on being a woman in the media:

I think when it comes to females in the media, you’ll see something that kind of upsets me which is that females are pinned up against each other more so than men. For example, you never see online, vote for who has the better butt: this actor or this actor? It’s always, like, this female singer and this female singer, and you get to vote. It’s daily that I see these things and these polls, like, let us know who’s sexier? Who’s the hotter mama? I just don’t see: who’s the hotter dad? One thing that I do believe as a feminist is that in order for us to have gender equality, we have to stop making it a girl fight. We have to stop being so interested in seeing girls trying to tear each other down. It has to be about cheering each other on as women. And that’s just kind of how I feel about it.

And when the interviewer asked her about Miley Cyrus’s scandalous outfits (perhaps doing the exact thing Swift hates by trying to pit her against another female singer her age), Swift responded that she supports women singers expressing their sexuality:

I think that no other female artist should be able to tell me to wear less clothes and I’m not going to tell any other female artist to wear more clothes. As long as it’s their idea, and they’re expressing their sexuality or they’re expressing their strength or it makes them feel like a woman to perform a certain way or dress a certain way… as long as it’s coming from them and they’re living their life on their own terms, I cheer them on.

Watch the entire interview here.

TIME feminism

Pitting Emma Watson and Beyoncé Against Each Other Is Anti-Feminist

HeForShe Campaign Launch
Emma Watson and Ban Ki-moon attend the launch of the HeForShe Campaign at the United Nations on September 20, 2014 in New York City. Steve Sands—WireImage/Getty Images

You know what's antifeminist? When we bend over backwards to deny a woman who identifies herself as a feminist the right to that self-identification

xojane

This story originally appeared on xoJane.com.

On Saturday, Emma Watson gave a speech about feminism and gender equality. She said things that many of us have said a thousand times, online and offline, about the right to choose, healthcare, equal pay, and men’s duty in fighting for gender equality. The Internet went crazy with applause, praising her as a feminist hero. Although nothing Watson said was groundbreaking or especially unique, it’s great to see a young woman of her celebrity use her position of influence to make an intelligent statement about feminism. I love Emma Watson. She’s bright and positive and it’s great.

What isn’t great is the attitude I saw on social media following her speech, in which a comparison began to be drawn. “That’s feminism,” I’ve seen it tweeted over and over since Saturday. “Not a neon sign and spandex.” The digs at Beyoncé got louder and bolder. One of the tweets that started it all (by a Twitter user who has now made her account private, @sandyzzzen) read: “Well done Emma Watson. THAT is feminism (watch and learn Beyoncé).” And it wasn’t just random Internet users. Vanity Fair wrote an article praising Watson and comparing her feminist impact to Beyoncé’s, stating, “[Watson’s] widespread influence on young minds (still forming their opinions on gender roles and advocacy) is even stronger than other high-profile defenders of the F-word like Beyoncé.”

Needless to say, this piece prompted a lot of discussion on Twitter, and I tweeted this:

Now, obviously I was feeling a little sassy. The Internet’s overwhelmingly positive reactions to Watson’s feminism were exciting, but also troubling when I remembered the way Beyoncé’s feminism was dissected, critiqued, and doubted last year when she dropped her self-titled album that included a recording of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie speaking about feminism.

Hopefully you all remember the numerous times Beyoncé’s feminism has come under attack in the past? No? I’ll refresh your memory. When Beyoncé dropped Beyoncé last year, accompanied by a corresponding collection of music videos, the think pieces flew fast and thick. “Is Beyoncé a feminist?” “OK, but is Beyoncé actually a feminist?” The speculation was endless, despite the fact that Beyoncé was self-identifying, answering the question before it was even asked. But somehow many mainstream publications still thought that their opinion on Beyoncé’s feminism overrode her own identification.

When Emma Watson gave her speech on Saturday, I didn’t see a single tweet (other than from Men’s Rights Activists) criticizing her. No one dissected the roles she’s taken in Hollywood, the times she posed in sexy clothes, no one has questioned her relationship status.

Yet when I tweeted the above tweet, those kinds of dissections were exactly what filled my mentions—dissections voiced by white feminists. No angle was left uncovered. The responses ranged from “Maybe because Emma actually dresses like a lady!” to “Maybe because Emma has a college degree!” “Maybe because Emma didn’t dedicate an album to her husband and take his last name!” “Maybe because Emma doesn’t gyrate on stage!” “Maybe because Emma included men in her argument!” Don’t believe me? Look on Twitter. These tweets aren’t hard to find.

Guys…as a white feminist whose feminism is by no means perfect and has committed her share of missteps in the past, let me say this as gently as I can: This…has…to…stop.

Maybe because Emma dresses like a lady? What does a lady dress like, exactly? And who decided what a lady looks like? What bearing should one’s clothing have on one’s identification as a feminist? This is exactly the kind of misogynist policing we’ve fought tooth and claw against for decades, and to level this line of “reasoning” at Beyoncé is not only antifeminist, it is despicable.

Maybe because Emma has a college degree? You can’t be serious. Since when does education level have anything to do with whether or not a woman (or man) can identify as feminist? My mother didn’t finish college and she created a feminist in me by the time I was five. Does she not count? Beyoncé is incredibly successful and self-sufficient, and you would target her college education as an area of critique?

Emma didn’t dedicate an album to her husband or take his last name? Oh? So taking your husband’s last name means you’re not a feminist now, huh? Beyoncé is a wife and a mother, so now she’s not a feminist? OK. I’ll remember that. Don’t ever get married or I’ll picket your wedding.

Maybe because Emma doesn’t gyrate on stage? Hmm. I seem to recall a lot of white feminists defending Miley Cyrus for doing exactly that, proclaiming her a feminist and shielding her from slut-shaming. Last I checked, part of feminism is owning our sexuality and expressing it however we choose.

Maybe because Emma included men in her speech? Oh god. So including men in conversations about feminism is now a box that must be checked to consider oneself a feminist? That’s just silly.

There were other bits of drivel that dropped—and continue to drop—in my mentions on Twitter, but these are the attacks on Beyoncé’s feminism that I saw repeated most often. If you use any of the aforementioned lines of attack…you are being antifeminist.

When you criticize Beyoncé’s feminism based on the clothes she wears, her level of education, the dances she does; when you say she cannot be a feminist or is less of a feminist than a woman who wears clothes differently, has been educated differently, dances differently, you are erasing her nuance and you are erasing the part of her feminism that is interlocked with her humanity. Because in case you didn’t know, fellow white feminists, the white experience of womanhood is different than the black experience of womanhood. The expectations, perceptions, context, and history of black women are not the same as the expectations, perceptions, context, and history of you as a white woman. Intersectional feminism means that women of color experience womanhood at a place where race and gender intersect. It means that the way they experience life as a woman is influenced by their race, and vise versa.

With that in mind, think about why, then, a woman of color—particularly a black woman—might find Beyoncé’s brand of feminism more relatable than Emma Watson’s. @thetrudz, arguably one of the most prolific writers and scholars on race, gender, and misogynoir of our time, wrote a beautiful piece about why Beyoncé’s album Beyoncé resonated with her as a black woman, as it spoke to issues of sexuality, the pain of Eurocentric standards of beauty, and dance. What’s more, think about the core concepts of Watson’s speech: it focused on a binary system of oppression, oppression of woman by man. Women of color are oppressed on more than one level, so a speech that doesn’t address issues of violence and harm against women of color specifically does not speak to the whole experience of a woman of color. (Are you currently thinking something along the lines of “But why can’t we all just be women and not divide ourselves along racial lines?” If you are, let me direct you here.)

None of this is a competition. This not a Feminist Death Match between Emma Watson and Beyoncé, nor should it be. In fact, that was one of the other more common responses I saw to my tweet: “But why can’t we appreciate both Beyoncé and Emma Watson? I love them both!”

Congratulations! You can! And many of us do. I even saw a tweet that said “Beyoncé for president, and Emma Watson for VP.” Who’s the “better feminist” should never be a competition: We all have different interpretations and applications of feminism. As feminists, we celebrate others’ right to identify as whatever kind of feminist they choose. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie spoke beautifully to this (specifically as it relates to Beyoncé) in an interview at the Schomburg Center in Harlem, in which she said “Whoever says they’re feminist is bloody feminist.” Period.

According to Roxane Gay, we’re probably all “bad feminists,” and I agree. We are humans, and therefore we are creatures of context and nuance. We stumble, we contradict, we backslide, we mess up. None of that makes us antifeminist. But you know what is antifeminist? When we attack one woman’s feminism by means of credentialism and respectability politics, when we bend over backward to deny a woman who identifies herself as a feminist the right to that self-identification, in the process contradicting our own beliefs about the freedom women (all women, we claim) are entitled to when it comes to our bodies, our relationships, our clothes, our pursuits.

You don’t have to like Beyoncé’s feminism, but there are millions—literally—of women around the world who like it, love it, celebrate it, live it, and we damn sure don’t get to say that they’re wrong.

Olivia A. Cole is a poet, author, and activist.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME feminism

Sorry, Emma Watson, but HeForShe Is Rotten for Men

"Noah" - UK Premiere - Red Carpet Arrivals
"I decided I was a feminist and this seemed uncomplicated to me," said Emma Watson at a UN Women speech in September. "Men-- I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender Equality is your issue, too." Anthony Harvey—Getty Images

Cathy Young is a contributing editor at Reason magazine.

Until feminism recognizes discrimination against men, the movement for gender equality will be incomplete.

“Gender equality is your issue too.” That was the message to men from Emma Watson, Harry Potter star and now United Nations Women Goodwill Ambassador, in her widely hailed U.N. speech earlier this week announcing a new feminist campaign with a “formal invitation” to male allies to join. Noting that men suffer from sexism in their own ways, Watson asked, “How can we affect change in the world when only half of it is invited or feel welcome to participate in the conversation?” Truer words were never spoken. Too bad they are belied by the campaign itself, which is called “HeForShe” and asks men to pledge to “take action against all forms of violence and discrimination faced by women and girls” but says nothing about problems affecting men and boys.

Watson clearly believes that feminism — which, she stressed, is about equality and not bashing men — will also solve men’s problems. But, unfortunately, feminism in its present form has too often ignored sexist biases against males, and sometimes has actively contributed to them. Until that changes, the movement for gender equality will be incomplete.

Take one of the men’s issues Watson mentioned in her speech: seeing her divorced father’s role as a parent “valued less by society” than her mother’s. It is true that in the 1970s and 1980s, feminist challenges to discriminatory, sex-specific laws helped end formal preferences for mothers in child custody matters. But as fathers began to fight against more covert anti-male biases in the court system, most feminists sided with mothers.

There are plenty of other examples. The women’s movement has fought, rightly, for more societal attention to domestic abuse and sexual violence. But male victims of these crimes still tend to get short shrift, from the media and activists alike. Despite several recent high-profile recent sexual assault cases in which the victims were teenage girls, disturbing cases in which boys were victimized — by other boys or by girls — have received far less publicity and sparked little outrage. Experiments have shown that while people are quick to intervene when a man in a staged public quarrel becomes physically abusive to his girlfriend, reactions to a similar situation with the genders reversed mostly range from indifference to amusement or even sympathy for the woman. To a large extent, as feminists sometimes point out, these attitudes stem from traditional gender norms which treat victimhood, especially at a woman’s hands, as unmanly. But today’s mainstream feminism, which regards sexual assault and domestic violence as byproducts of male power over women, tends to reinforce rather than challenge such double standards.

Just in the past few days, many feminist commentators have taken great umbrage at suggestions that soccer star Hope Solo, currently facing charges for assaulting her sister and teenage nephew, deserves similar censure to football player Ray Rice, who was caught on video striking his fiancée. Their argument boils down to the assertion that violence by men toward their female partners should be singled out because it’s a bigger problem than female violence toward family members. Meanwhile, in Watson’s native England, activists from women’s organizations recently blamed the shortage of services for abused women on efforts to accommodate abused men (despite the fact that, as Guardian columnist and blogger Ally Fogg demonstrated, even the lowest estimates of the prevalence of domestic violence against men suggest that male victims are far less likely than women to get help).

Watson deserves credit for wanting to end the idea that “fighting for women’s rights [is] synonymous with man-hating.” But she cannot do that if she treats such notions only as unfair stereotypes. How about addressing this message to feminists who complain about being “asked to modify our language so we don’t hurt men’s feelings” when talking about misogyny — for instance, not to generalize about all men as oppressors? Or to those who argue that “Kill all men” mugs and “I bathe in male tears” T-shirts are a great way to celebrate women’s empowerment and separate the “cool dudes” who get the joke from the “dumb bros”? Or to those who accuse a feminist woman of “victim-blaming” for defending her son against a sexual assault accusation — even one of which he is eventually cleared?

Men must, indeed, “feel welcome to participate in the conversation” about gender issues. But very few will do so if that “conversation” amounts to being told to “shut up and listen” while women talk about the horrible things men do to women, and being labeled a misogynist for daring to point out that bad things happen to men too and that women are not always innocent victims in gender conflicts. A real conversation must let men talk not only about feminist-approved topics such as gender stereotypes that keep them from expressing their feelings, but about more controversial concerns: wrongful accusations of rape; sexual harassment policies that selectively penalize men for innocuous banter; lack of options to avoid unwanted parenthood once conception has occurred. Such a conversation would also acknowledge that pressures on men to be successful come not only from “the patriarchy” but, often, from women as well. And it would include an honest discussion of parenthood, including many women’s reluctance to give up or share the primary caregiver role.

It goes without saying that these are “First World problems.” In far too many countries around the world, women still lack basic rights and patriarchy remains very real (though it is worth noting that even in those places, men and boys often have to deal with gender-specific hardships, from forced recruitment into war to mass violence that singles out males). But in the industrial democracies of North America and Europe, the revolution in women’s rights over the past century has been a stunning success — and, while there is still work to be done, it must include the other side of that revolution. Not “he for she,” but “She and he for us.”

Cathy Young is a contributing editor at Reason magazine.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME feminism

Watch Joseph Gordon-Levitt Explain Why He’s a Feminist in a Truly Thoughtful Way

Anyone who thinks men can't be feminists should watch this video

We’ve known Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a feminist for a while now, but we didn’t know he was so thoughtful about it. Not until this week anyway when he posted a new video where he not only explains why he’s a feminist, but also gets into some of the debates raised in the “Women Against Feminists” Tumblr blog. This doesn’t feel like one of those “love me, I’m a feminist!” PR stunts– it actually seems like he’s really contemplated the issue and he makes some excellent points for anyone who thinks we “don’t need” feminism anymore.

This video is a must-watch for anyone who thinks men can’t be feminists. And it’s timely, since the UN just announced a campaign called He for She, designed to get men involved in women’s rights.

TIME feminism

Sorry, Privileged White Ladies, but Emma Watson Isn’t a ‘Game Changer’ for Feminism

UN Women's "HeForShe" VIP After Party
Actress Emma Watson attends the UN Women's "HeForShe" VIP After Party at The Peninsula Hotel on September 20, 2014 in New York City. Jim Spellman—WireImage/Getty Images

How will the men who support He For She actually stand in solidarity with women?

xojane

This article originally appeared on xoJane.com.

When I woke up yesterday, my Facebook feed was buzzing with the news of Emma Watson’s “groundbreaking speech.” On September 20, Watson used an emotionally stirring speech at the United Nations to launch He For She, a new campaign that urges men to “speak out about the inequalities faced by women and girls.” People who never mention the words “feminism” or “women’s rights” were suddenly interested.

More specifically, the campaign centers around a website where men and boys can acknowledge that gender equality is a human rights issue and pledge to fight the inequality that women and girls face. On the “Take Action” page, the site encourages users to tweet and Instagram with the hashtag #HeForShe. Beyond that, there is little discussion of what the men who sign this pledge can actually do to improve the lives of women.

“I am so excited about #HeForShe,” one random girl from my sorority wrote, “because it finally shows that feminism isn’t about hating men. I love men!” “Emma Watson gives feminism new life,” read one CNN headline. Another blog noted that she completely changed the definition of feminism while dressed in Dior. Media outlets that had only previously used the word “feminist” to describe hairy-legged stereotypes were now salivating over a newer, hipper, prettier feminism based entirely on an 11-minute speech at the United Nations.

Most egregiously, Vanity Fair called Watson’s speech a “game changer” for feminism: “Watson is potentially in an even better position than many of her peers,” writes Joanna Robinson. “Her role as Hermione Granger, the universally adored heroine of the Harry Potter series, gives her an automatic in with male and female millenials. This is a rare case where an actor being conflated with their role might be a good thing. In this way, her widespread influence on young minds (still forming their opinions on gender roles and advocacy) is even stronger than other high-profile defenders of the F-word like Beyoncé.”

Despite the slight toward Beyonce’s feminist work, I thought for a moment that Robinson and others who were anointing Emma Watson as feminism’s brightest young mind might have actually been right. There is something uniquely brave about a young woman identifying as a feminist, especially when so many others, like Watson’s contemporaries Shailene Woodley and Taylor Swift, shy away from the label.

But at the same time, when I hear this speech being discussed as a defining moment in feminism, I worry about the message that the He For She campaign sends to people who still aren’t sure that feminism is looking out for their best interests. More specifically, will He For She leave behind many of the people who most need feminsm’s help?

To begin with, the name “He For She” is problematic, no matter how you slice it. Some may call these criticisms divisive and nitpicky, but there is nothing feminist about a campaign that reinforces a gender binary that is harmful to people whose gender identities don’t fit into such tidy boxes. When we reinforce the idea that only people who neatly fit the gender binary are worthy of being protected and supported, we erase and exclude the people who are at most risk of patriarchal violence and oppression.

Which is something that Emma Watson knows only a little bit about. It was encouraging that Watson acknowledged some of the privilege that led her to that United Nations stage, but she failed to mention the things that are most important. She noted that her parents and teachers didn’t expect less of her than male students, but failed to mention how the automatic advantages that being white, wealthy, able-bodied, and cisgender have colored her life experience. The state of affairs for women that Watson presents in this speech is a best case scenario. There was no discussion in this speech as to how He For She can improve the lives of women and nonbinary people who will experience intersectional oppressions, like racism, transphobia, and fatphobia.

This is not to suggest that what Emma Watson did wasn’t brave. Women face consequences when they speak up on feminism, as evidenced by the internet trolls who threatened to release nude photos of Watson shortly after her speech (luckily this turned out to be a hoax). Anyone who uses their platform to spread feminist ideas deserves respect, but we should probably be a little more careful in who we choose as our thought leaders. Especially when there are hundreds of women who are directly impacting the lives of women through their work and writing.

In reality, Emma Watson is the kind of woman that mainstream feminism — the feminism that gets a place on the United Nations’ stage — has worked the hardest for. When Watson speaks of equal pay, she’s talking about the white women who make 78% of their white male counterparts, not the 46% gap that Latina women face in the workplace. When we discuss sex work, we don’t talk about the transgender women who rely on the industry to survive. Put simply, the discussion that He For She and Emma Watson are having fails to invite the people whose voices need to be heard most to the table.

Of course, the most crucial component of the speech is Watson’s call to action for men that support equality. “Unintentional feminists,” she calls them. These, of course, are men who have been “turned off” by their own assumptions about what feminists are. Men are an important component of breaking down barriers for women, but after years of begging from feminists of all ideological backgrounds, they shouldn’t need a verbal engraved invitation from an actress to get involved. More importantly, there is little discussion of how the men who support He For She will actually stand in solidarity with women.

Many men who consider themselves vocal advocates for feminism have also had a real problem with talking over the women they’re supposed to be supporting. The space of male allies in feminism is a tenuous one, and one that is only successful when male allies use their platforms and privilege to amplify the voices of women, trans men, and nonbinary people. Instead of “He For She,” perhaps the campaign should have been branded “Stand With Women,” to imply that men would be standing beside women instead of standing up for them. Women don’t need to be rescued, whether it’s by men, Emma Watson, or the United Nations. Positioning men as the saviors of oppressed women isn’t productive, and devalues the work that feminists have been doing for decades.

Paying lip service to feminist ideas without actually doing any work to undo oppression isn’t feminist, and it certainly isn’t new. Every few months, it seems as if the media identifies an actress as the new young feminist darling, and Emma Watson is only the latest in the procession. Emma Watson may be making feminism more palatable for people who aren’t comfortable with in-your-face confrontations from less camera-friendly feminists, but she isn’t doing anything new or groundbreaking.

And it’s unfortunate that Emma Watson is selling the same boring, one-dimensional feminism that’s existed since the first hypothetical bra was burned instead of really changing it. She doesn’t deserve to have her privacy and body threatened by terrible internet trolls, but she also probably hasn’t earned her place as a defining feminist of her generation. If Emma Watson really wanted to be a “game changer,” she should have handed the microphone to Laverne Cox or Janet Mock to add some desperately needed diversity to the U.S.’s contingent of U.N. Goodwill Ambassadors.

Amy McCarthy is a freelance writer living in Dallas, Texas.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME South Africa

South Africa Shuts Down First Pro-Gay Mosque

The religious cite is apparently in violation of a city law about parking spaces

Local officials in Cape Town, South Africa, have shuttered the country’s first mosque that welcomes gay people and allows women to lead prayers, citing a municipal code violation.

Cape Town city councilor Ganief Hendricks tells the BBC that the Open Mosque, which only opened on Friday, was in violation of a city law that requires one parking space per 10 worshippers at a place of worship. Hendricks said the mosque also failed to secure a permit to convert use of the building from a warehouse to a place of worship, which can take up to six months.

Members of the mosque, which drew harsh criticism from some segments of the local Muslim community, contend the city’s crackdown is an effort to close the mosque for good.

“We have freedom of religion and expression in this country,” said mosque founder Taj Hargey. “No one has the right to tell anyone what to believe in. This is a gender-equal mosque, autonomous and independent and will remain so.”

Hendricks maintains that the issue is not one of religious persecution but of a city zoning law.

“This is an emotive issue – some councillors who are Muslim would want to defend the issue more vigorously than those that aren’t but the bottom line is we have to make sure that the rules are followed,” he said.

[BBC]

TIME feminism

How to Raise Boys Not to Be Total Jerks

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Rubberball/Nicole Hill—Brand X/Getty Images

Ever since the Ketchup Joke incident, I have been challenging my boys (and their sister) with honest conversations about gender and stereotypes

xojane

This story originally appeared on xoJane.com.

At some level, I’ve known since before my oldest son was born that this moment would come. But when it did, it took me utterly and completely off guard. I was driving a car chock-full of boys home from a soccer tournament when my nine-year-old son piped up from the back.

“Hey Mom! I’ve got a funny joke. I’ll ask you a question and you say, ‘Ketchup and rubber buns’.”

“I’ve heard this one,” chuckled my 12-year-old son.

Snickers all around from the soccer players.

Apparently, I was the only one who didn’t know what was coming next.

My son: “What did you have for breakfast?”

Me: “Oatmeal and ketchup and rubber buns.”

My son: “No! Mom! Just say ketchup and rubber buns. Try again. What did you have for breakfast?”

Me: “Ketchup and rubber buns.”

“What did you have for lunch?” “What did you have for dinner?” Etc. etc. And then we got to the punchline:

My son: “What do you do when you see a hot chick? You CATCH UP and RUB HER BUNS!”

Peals of laughter from the boys.

To my very great credit, I did not run the car off the road. I kept driving—silent, hands gripping the wheel, looking straight ahead. It was a perfect autumn day. The sky was a brilliant blue, the late afternoon sun catching the full color of the orange and yellow leaves on the trees along the highway. It was a beautiful, perfect day outside, but inside I was angry. I was mortified. I was disappointed. And I was desperately struggling to think of what I should say to these boys.

Finally, as calmly as I could, I said, “I don’t think that joke is funny. You know, if you actually ran after a woman and touched her in an offensive way like that, it would be called ‘assault and battery’. It is a crime. You could be arrested.”

“You could be arrested for THAT?” said one of my son’s teammates.

“Yes. Plus, the woman could also sue you.”

Silence descends.

“Also, I’ve actually had that happen to me. How do you think it feels to have a stranger grab your butt?”

“WHAT? That actually happened to YOU?” they yelled in unison.

“Sure. More than once. Usually at parties.”

“This is kind of making me feel sick,” said my 12-year-old son.

More silence.

Finally, my nine-year-old said, “I remember you saying once that you didn’t like running past construction sites because the construction workers whistled and yelled things at you.”

I didn’t remember telling them that, but it’s true. When I was a teenager, I used to go way off my normal running route just to avoid running past a construction site. When you are a 14-year-old girl and grown men are yelling things about your body and what sexual things they want to do to it, it doesn’t feel like they are just some idiots being rude. It feels downright threatening.

Good, I thought. Sometimes they actually listen to me.

“So what are you going to say the next time you hear someone tell a joke like that?” I asked.

“Stop, Mom! We get it, OK?”

Teachable moment: ended. I decided just to leave it there for the time being. I knew that these kids didn’t really mean any harm. They were just repeating what was—to them—only a silly play on words. But I couldn’t blow it off as “just a joke.” If you have ever experienced sexual assault, a “joke” like this is just not funny. The reality is that almost every woman I know has experienced inappropriate touching, sexual harassment, or sexual abuse. Female friends of all ages, ethnicities and occupations have shared their stories, from a student told by her professor that she could get a higher grade in exchange for a “favor” to women in the medical profession who had patients touch them inappropriately in the examination room. Even my own young daughter has already experienced it.

Not long after this Ketchup Joke incident, my sons’ little sister was touched inappropriately several times by a boy in her second grade class. The sad truth is that these are experiences that are all too common for girls and women throughout the world.

The Ketchup Joke was a call to action for me. My sons are intelligent boys, good kids who love and respect their mom and their sister, their grandmothers, their female friends and teachers. But they, like other young Americans, are deeply impacted by the culture that they live in. Every day, children are exposed to an estimated 16,000 images through media that often portrays unhealthy and unrealistic stereotypes of both young men and women. Females are almost four times as likely as males to be shown in sexy attire. Kids are also powerfully influenced by their peers. While they’ve never heard their dad tell a joke like that at home, there’s no way to control what they hear from other kids. How can all this not impact the way that my sons view girls and women?

I know I can’t change the society that we live in. I cannot raise my sons—or my daughter—in a world where sexism and misogyny do not exist. Eliminating bias completely is not even really possible; whether we are conscious of it or not, we are all biased. It is part of our human nature. But I realized that day in the car that kids don’t learn through osmosis how to evaluate and analyze gender stereotypes. It’s great to have parents who model respect for women, but it’s not enough.

I realized that, in order to raise these boys to recognize the problem of sexism in our society, my husband and I would have to try our best to make them aware of the bias and sexism in the world around them. If we could help them start seeing it, then we could help them find other ways to address it.

Ever since the Ketchup Joke incident, I have been challenging my boys (and their sister) with honest conversations about gender and stereotypes. Every example I see in a TV show, commercial, music video, or advertisement becomes a teachable moment. We talk about gender-based violence in the news, whether it is the girls kidnapped in Nigeria or domestic violence by NFL players. I have tried to share with them my own firsthand experiences with being female in a sexist society, something which hasn’t always been comfortable for me.

My sons aren’t always excited to have these conversations, so I don’t push it. But I don’t give up, either. Raising boys not to be total jerks is a long-term process. But they seem to be independently commenting on stereotypes that they see in the media more. They’ve even called me out for saying something sexist on occasion—and they were correct. So I am hopeful.

Hopeful that their generation will move us closer to a world where men and women are treated with more respect and equality. And hopeful that each of my boys will one day be men who, instead of chuckling when they hear a sexist joke, will speak up and say, “I don’t think that joke is funny.”

Jennifer Prestholdt is a human rights lawyer, wife and mother of three.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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