Achieving gender equality requires teamwork.
This year was a big year for women around the world, kicking off with the Women’s March and ending with a cultural reckoning with sexual harassment and assault triggered by the Harvey Weinstein scandal.
But women have not been alone in their battle against gender discrimination, many men have joined forces with women and supported their fight for women’s rights in 2017. Global Citizen is spotlighting some of this year’s loudest advocates for women’s rights who prove that men can be feminists too.
As an advisor to the organizers of the Women’s March, singer and activist Harry Belafonte played a key role in making sure women’s rights were on everyone’s minds this year. Belafonte told the Associated Press that he advised the organizers on strategies for a successful, peaceful protest by drawing on his experiences as a civil rights activist who marched on Washington, D.C. with Martin Luther King, Jr. and from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in the 60s.
This year saw some bold feminist statements from famous men.
Grammy-winner John Legend became a father to daughter Luna last year, but in an interview for the documentary series Makers, the outspoken singer and songwriter said that men shouldn’t wait until they have daughters to start caring about women’s rights.
"It doesn't cost us anything as men, for women to do well. We don't lose out because more women are empowered...more women are leaders. It just makes the world better,” he said.
Why does it matter that men are involved? Is that the only reason women should get healthcare? We need more women in congress. https://t.co/cUQjekYGMz— John Legend (@johnlegend) June 28, 2017
“Why would you want to miss out on the perspective of half the population in the world?” he asked.
#WomansDay2017 we have a long way to go to close the gender Gap. I am committed to push and will do much more. ACTIONS louder than words— ashton kutcher (@aplusk) March 9, 2017
If gender equality is not on your docket go back to the drawing board and try try again.— ashton kutcher (@aplusk) June 27, 2017
Actor Ashton Kutcher has been working to advance gender equality on multiple fronts. Not only has he been a vocal advocate against sexual exploitation and trafficking — issues that disproportionately affect women, according to the UN — but he has used his fame to bring attention to the gender gap in the US and spoken up for women’s equal rights.
Earlier this year, actor David Schwimmer, best known for playing Ross Geller on “Friends,” produced a series of short films based on real incidents of workplace sexual harassment as part of a campaign called #ThatsHarassment.
“The whole purpose of [the films] is to encourage people and to give them the courage to speak out if they’re a victim themselves of harassment, or if they witness or are aware of sexual harassment,” Schwimmer told Cosmopolitan Magazine. “The reality [is that] this kind of harassment takes place in the workplace, in a professional environment. And that means it’s about power. The problem is that people don’t step forward or say something if they’re witnessing it because of fear of retaliation.”
What Schwimmer didn’t know then was that in six months time, everyone would be talking about sexual harassment and assault — especially in the workplace.
I will never Cat call a woman again. Growing up we were taught from watching movies that a cat call was a compliment. I would do it to friends and girlfriends. Sunrise clued me in that it was totally inappropriate. Not cool. Not a compliment. Gross. #HowIWillChange— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) October 19, 2017
After hundreds of thousands of women said #MeToo, many men took notice and acknowledged responsibility for their part in the problem. Thousands of men, like actor and activist Mark Ruffalo, posted on social media with the hashtag #HowIWillChange.
Guys, for the record. Rubbing your genitals up against a woman or man is considered sexual harassment and likely assault. There seems to be a little misconception. https://t.co/qVPg5XYpTk— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) October 26, 2017
The #MeToo movement didn’t just empower women to share their harassment stories. After the accusations against Weinstein went public, actor Terry Crews shared his own story, showing that it’s not just women who experience sexual harassment.
But Crews also called on men to do better and to hold each other accountable. “If you are making anybody uncomfortable, don’t do that — it’s not that hard!” he told TIME. Crews was recognized as one of the “Silence Breakers” who were named TIME’s 2017 “Person of the Year.”
(Swipe right to finish) To anyone willing to read these few hundred words- I don't need your likes, but I deeply appreciate your time. I've been trying to stay away from the news recently with our baby on the way, but I felt I needed to weigh in on what's happening in Hollywood with the Weinstein sexual abuse scandal. Hope it reaches anyone who needs to hear it. #redefinemasculinity #heforshe #acalltomen #ManEnough
Actor Justin Baldoni was also quick to comment on the Weinstein scandal, but that’s not all he’s done to advance gender equality this year.
Thanks for watching! I humbly disagree that we need a female version of me. I think we need to create room for fuller versions of who we all already are. And I think women are the ones leading the way- they are showing up and making room for others to show up.— justin baldoni (@justinbaldoni) December 4, 2017
The “Jane the Virgin” star just launched the original series “Man Enough” in which he explores what it means to be a man and challenges stereotypical conceptions of masculinity touching on topics from fatherhood to sexual assault.
After three years of believing it was possible- we finally did it! This is #ManEnough. A @wayfarerla Original Series made possible by my good friends at @harrys. Episode 1 and 2 premier TOMORROW only at https://t.co/CHnhKQdl5W#Harryspic.twitter.com/mboZ5du1Qm— justin baldoni (@justinbaldoni) December 14, 2017
I believe all the women coming forward about Harvey Weinstein's sexual harassment. It takes bravery to do so.— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) October 7, 2017
Often victims of sexual harassment or assault who came forward with allegations are met with disbelief, which often discourages them from speaking out sooner. Comedian Seth Rogen was dead-serious in his show of support for the courageous women who shared their stories.
Where’s the loud, vocal support for these women? Mostly a shameful silence https://t.co/vWc63nd7bU— Anthony Bourdain (@Bourdain) October 7, 2017
Chef and travel show host Anthony Bourdain — who is dating actress Asia Argento, one of Weinstein’s accusers — not only voiced his support for victims of harassment and assault, but did not hesitate to put others’ lack of support on blast.
I "hear" somebody is a predatory creep I make sure to have nothing to do with them...— Anthony Bourdain (@Bourdain) October 22, 2017
If I am told directly of predatory acts by a witness? I connect them to either law enforcement or a sympathetic journalist ..— Anthony Bourdain (@Bourdain) October 22, 2017
Never one to shy away from controversy, Bourdain even highlighted the issue of sexual harassment within his own industry.
I wish that were true https://t.co/IyEG5bPQs5— Anthony Bourdain (@Bourdain) October 15, 2017
The brave women who had the courage to stand up & speak their truth about Harvey Weinstein are true heroes to us... https://t.co/pdOa4KNhvL— Channing Tatum (@channingtatum) October 18, 2017
Actor Channing Tatum didn’t just speak out, he took action. The “Step Up” star pulled his film about a sexual abuse because it was being developed with Weinstein’s production company.
No list of feminist celebrities would be complete without Ryan Gosling who voiced his support for the victims coming forward and joined others in calling on men to hold each other accountable.
Read more: 27 Famous Men Who Are Proud to Be Feminists
This year was one of both turmoil and progress in the fight for women’s rights. As 2018 approaches, Global Citizen continues to campaign in support of gender equality and against all forms of discrimination. You can take action here to help combat sexual violence against women and girls around the world.