Watch this space.
Spoiler alert! You don't just have to be a woman to be a feminist and actor, producer and singer songwriter, Farhan, is proof of that.
With over 11 million followers on Twitter and a global profile in the spotlight, Farhan frequently speaks out about female empowerment and is a male ambassador for the UN HeForShe campaign (yaaas). In honour of our #EveryDayIsWomensDay digital issue starring Gemma Chan, he tells GLAMOUR what life as a male feminist is really like and why he's rallying for more men to join him.
There are a few ways that we can approach male feminism, one could be to question what it actually is and the other to question if true feminism even allows for a male feminist to have a seat at the table. Introspection is a huge part of the journey but action is what is going to create long lasting change that most of the world needs. I hope, therefore, that 2019 is a year of massive change for a more equal world in the wake of the #MeToo movement, a year that has fewer bystanders and more leaders walking the path of equal opportunity for all. Education and empowerment has to be a huge part of this process but it will take more than just greater governance to ensure such change. It will need us all to ensure steps are taken in everyday life around us.
We need to break patterns of patriarchy that are obvious as well as those that are subliminal and further end the culture and breeding of a misogynist society. An end to violence against women and girls should be a social crusade for us all but don't be fooled into thinking that this is somebody else’s problem or one that is external. Our actions begin at home, at work and in our communities.
As a father of two girls, a brother, a son, a partner and business partner responsible for making content that is seen on the big screen - my path as a male feminist is constantly challenged and evolving. I have inquisitive daughters that question the industry that I work in and rightly so. I am answerable to them but more than anything I am paving my legacy as an actor, director, screenwriter, singer and songwriter. The weight of responsibility is lightened when we hear fans chant the words to song lyrics or poems that we have released in a bid to inspire change. In these moments it feels like our art is reaching hearts and minds and it is then that I get the most hope and encouragement to keep doing what I do. These are some of the most humbling moments for me and my band.
I recently held a concert called “Lalkaar” in India which rather strongly translates to using your voice. It is more like a war cry and we are soon to be delivering the second edition of that concert this year. Our message is clear that we need to raise our voices and be heard, a passive stance for social injustice won’t cut it. So, let’s encourage women to speak up about social injustice and in turn let’s be a society that nurtures the call out rather than one that silences it.
In 2014 I was appointed as the first male ambassador for the UN Women’s HeForShe campaign. That’s largely due to my work as the founder of M.A.R.D (Men Against Rape & Discrimination) which kick-started a very public dialogue about dismantling a system of misogyny and patriarchy that prevented equal values for men and women in society. My mission was to channel a voice of masculinity in a way that perhaps had not been done before in multi-faceted ways using the power and clout of my following and creativity. We galvanised a movement with its nucleus in India and steered an open dialogue that gathered opinion from thought leaders, celebrities, business persons, students, and representatives from all ages and walks of life through our platform. We became a collective male feminist voice, carving a new wave of acceptance and reality about what it means to be a “man”.
Over the years the film industry has built a collective portrayal of the 'ideal man' and depicted 'femininity' and how we should see it thus influencing the psyche of the average viewer over generations. The stage for the eponymous 'macho' man is hopefully shrinking or being shared at least by the equally strong feminine man.
Disarming unjust and patriarchal values from life around me and the life that I wish to lead has been a huge part of who I have become. I hope that 2019 is a year that welcomes male feminists and in fact encourages more of us.
Farhan's debut UK album ‘Echoes’ releases in April.
[Via Glamour UK]