by Jackie Thompson
“It is time that we all see gender as a spectrum instead of two sets of opposing ideals. We should stop defining each other by what we are not, and start defining ourselves by who we are.” — Emma Watson
Actress Emma Watson spoke at the UN Sunday, Sept 21 in honor of the launch of the HeforShe campaign, which aims to engage men to stop violence against women. Her fifteen minute speech calls for men to take an active role in fighting for women’s rights. Supporters can make a pledge to take action against discrimination faced by women and girls at the campaign’s website.
The twenty-four year old has been in the spotlight since the age of eleven, when she hit the big screen in her role as Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Watson told delegates in New York, that ” [She] started questioning gender-based assumptions when at eight [she] was confused at being called bossy because [she] wanted to direct the plays we would put on for our parents but the boys were not.” She elaborated in saying, “I decided I was a feminist and this seemed uncomplicated to me. But my recent research has shown me that feminism has become an unpopular word.”
Many equate feminism with man-hating but Watson spoke eloquently about the many misconceptions that surround the word. “For the record, feminism by definition is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.” She said, but yet “women are choosing not to identify as feminists. Apparently, [women’s expression is] seen as too strong, too aggressive, isolating, and anti-men, unattractive even.”
“I think it is right I am paid the same as my male counterparts. I think it is right that I should be able to make decisions about my own body. I think it is right that women be involved on my behalf in the policies and decisions that will affect my life. I think it is right that socially, I am afforded the same respect as men.” Watson also touched on the stereotypes and struggles on men in today’s society. Her speech, she said, was the formal invitation for men stand up against discrimination women and against the restrictive gender roles that they are forced into.
Watson has already been involved in the promotion of girls’ education in visits to both Bangladesh and Zambia. Upon receiving the appointment as Goodwill Ambassador in July the Harry Potter star said that “the chance to make a real difference is not an opportunity that everyone is given and is one I have no intention of taking lightly.” And she certainly hasn’t. Watson has lent her fame to a worthy cause and has largely helped push the campaign onto the forefront of social media.
Harry Styles, Matt Damon, Douglas Booth, Logan Lerman, and Russell Crowe are just a few of the men who spoke out in support of Watson’s United Nations HeforShe campaign and taken the pledge. Their support and Watson’s fame has catapulted HeforShe into media outlets all over the world and brought the feminist conversation to the table once more.
Ian Price, senior, and Connor Weston, junior, both support Watson’s cause but do not identify as feminists. They believe feminism equates to a radical anti-men movement. Mr. Parks, a history teacher at Bellbrook, was the only the male interviewed to have claimed to be a feminist. He said it’s a matter of civil rights, simply supporting equality.
Ms. Heller agreed with both Watson and Parks. As a female in college studying science, she said that she experienced a lot of male bias from her professors. She also stated that male involvement is crucial to the cause of feminism.
In response to her speech, Watson faced threats last week of the release of private nude photos as a consequence of speaking out in favor feminism. The impending publication of the photos turned out to be a bluff.
To take the pledge: http://www.heforshe.org/#take-action