British actress Emma Watson is the front woman for the gender equality ‘HeForShe’ campaign initiated by the UN Women. It’s the first of its kind as they are actually reaching out to men and boys to be the advocates of change and to abolish gender inequality.
Launching the campaign in 2014 and after watching Watson’s speech at the UN, it definitely gave me some food for thought.
The first thing she touches on which really stood out to me was when she says, “the more I’ve spoken about feminism, the more I have realised that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating”. That statement is so accurate in today’s world. A woman cannot say she is a feminist without immediately being judged and automatically assuming she ‘hates men’. This is, of course, not the case. What she wants the world to understand is that gender equality is a human right and this campaign is trying to reach out to EVERYONE in order to make a change.
Now, I will admit that hearing the word feminist my mind would think, this person does not like men but thankfully after listening to when Emma states that the REAL meaning of feminism is “that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities, it is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes” it slams any previous misconceptions anyone may have had before.
She then moves onto the struggles she has seen and faced in her life over the years, from being called “bossy” as an 8-year-old, to her friends wanting to quit sports they once loved as they don’t want to appear “too muscly” and her male friends being unable to express their feelings out of fear of it seeming “unmanly”. This is something I know is still happening and didn’t even realise it is a serious gender equality issue and I’m sure some of you didn’t either.
There are some unsettling thoughts she speaks about involving men which make this issue even more relevant. With fathers roles as a parent being valued less in society, young men suffering from mental illness and suicide being the biggest killer of men between 20-49 in the UK. She then extends a formal invitation to all men to feel welcomed and comfortable with this new idea and be there to help make a difference by saying “gender equality is your issue to”.
I know many of you may be thinking, well, these issues and more affect women just as much as men and you are completely right. I was definitely thinking that but this is what the HeForShe campaign is all about, making everyone equal and having the same rights and responsibilities. There is no need for either side to play the victim.
Before watching this speech, this topic would not have been something I, as a woman, was extremely passionate about. Stereotyping gender was not something that I ever consciously thought about but I automatically did, unfortunately.
Now, I am no traditionalist by any means but being brought up thinking a certain way is hard to knock after so many years. However, listening to the points being made opened my eyes and hopefully others like me, to see that there is an issue in today’s society shows that people need to stand together and change it.
Not a lot of people, including myself, really know what being a feminist really is and in true graceful Emma Watson style, she speaks about it with such passion. She states she has been privileged to live a life where she has been treated as an equal and also remarks why is this “Harry Potter” girl standing up here speaking to everyone, if you watch it you can see she doesn’t need to justify herself as it is something she feels so strongly for and is ready to stand up and call for action against gender inequality.
“Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong. It is about time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum instead of two sets of opposing ideals”.
“This is what HeForShe is all about. It’s about freedom”.
I’m convinced! What are your thoughts on this issue?