Women’s rights shouldn’t hinge on relationships

Alyssa Dunning

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Illustration by Zachary Phillips

Illustration by Zachary Phillips

Emma Watson’s speech to the United Nations about the HeForShe Campaign was beautiful.

She invited men to become feminists and made great points about how feminism is for gender equality, women’s and men’s issues.

When she calls for men to join the action, however, she mentions that their mothers, sisters and daughters deserve to live in an equal world.

While making a situation relatable helps get the point across, too often women’s issues are only important when posed to our relationship to men.

Nothing irks me more than when people use this excuse to support or defend feminism.

Lately there has been a big surge of the public caring more about abuse cases and sexual assaults on campus. This is great, but it still seems that men in the public eye have an issue with not seeing women as independent beings.

And on a national scale, too many male celebrities or athletes have tried to be supportive of women’s issues but still talk as though we are not human or equal to men.

Even in the White House’s 1 is 2 Many campaign, they mention that women who get raped are daughters, sisters and friends. Not only is this avoiding the issue that men are sexually assaulted, it also trivializes the issue of assault in entirety. Rape victims should matter because rape is wrong, not because the woman has some relation to a man.

Even in an article by the Huffington Post commending 25 male celebrities speaking out for women’s rights, there are some men who can’t step away from the mother, sister, wife relationship to men idea. In the year 2014, do we really need to justify our support of gender equality?

The weirdest part is, as a feminist, I care about all gender issues and would never care about a “male issue” solely because of their relation to women. It would be strange if I had to convince women to care about the lack of paternity leave by using the fact that they have fathers and brothers.

My rights shouldn’t be important because I am someone’s wife or daughter; that is insulting. My rights should be important because I am a fellow human being.

Alyssa Dunning can be reached at [email protected] or @Alyssadunning3 on Twitter

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