Commentary by Adrianna Damato
The United Nations gathered in New York Saturday to discuss the new campaign, “HeForShe,” where numerous figureheads showed their support and commitment to the movement. Beloved actress Emma Watson, specifically, was appointed a U.N. Women Global Goodwill Ambassador and attended this event to speak about the ideas and the intended purpose of the campaign.
I think I speak for everyone when I say that her speech was not only powerful, but hands down one of the best talks about gender equality and feminism to date. She grasped the issue and presented it in a way that spoke to all audiences. The campaign itself encourages men to take a stand for gender equality by eliminating the divide on their end. It takes on a unique perspective in the fight for gender equality.
Watson eloquently stated, “We don’t often talk about men being imprisoned by gender stereotypes, but I can see that they are and that when they are free, things will change for women as a natural consequence.”
With this I can wholeheartedly say that I am going to follow this campaign from here on out. This movement is one that everyone needs to read about. It reinforces the idea that gender inequality is not solely a women’s issue. Rather, it is society’s issue and both men and women need to fight for change.
Emma Watson also tackled the issue with the word “feminism” and the stigma surrounding it. She explained that if you don’t like the word, then at least consider the idea to be a worthy one. Many today have such a clouded idea of what feminism is truly about. It isn’t a group of women who swear off men and believe them to be the root of all evil. Its definition, as provided by Emma Watson, is “[T]he belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.” Not once in this definition are men degraded or blamed directly for any of the rights not granted to women that men have. Watson acknowledges the belief of many that feminism is “man-hating” but argues it is not. Feminism has begun to be a bitter word to many in recent years and it is important that we keep in mind the goal of the campaign HeForShe, which is to unite men and women in order to bring change. It is not to shame men or put blame on them.
I, for one, encourage all to stop being passive observers to such stigma and speak out for the cause. It is important to take a stand because it affects the future of everyone — men and women. Whether you roll your eyes at the idea of feminism or believe that women should not have equal rights to men, I challenge you this: Would you care more if it were men who had unequal rights? Just reading about the HeForShe campaign and encouraging the ideas it presents is still doing something, which is better than nothing. So, as Emma Watson told the audience at the U.N., I leave you with this, “If not me, who? If not now, when? You have the opportunity here.”