I didn’t know what to expect when I clicked play on the video of Emma Watson’s U.N speech, which is now rapidly overtaking social media. Until coming across this video, I doubt many of us even knew that she was a U.N Women Goodwill Ambassador, and now her “game-changing” speech has sparked global passion, causing a remarkable stir across the internet and getting people rooting for feminism.
Watson’s speech signifies the launch of the #HeForShe campaign, which aims to get one billion men on board, as advocates, for equal rights for women globally. The campaign is taking a refreshingly different approach to other women’s rights campaigns, by directing itself at men, rather than just focusing on women. The speech highlights how equal rights effect males too, for instance, not having to suffer mental health problems in silence, being able to talk openly and being able to show vulnerability.
Watson goes on to say what we are all thinking, making light of herself, the “Harry Potter girl” who might not have been taken seriously to begin with, but within a few minutes of speaking, has captivated her audience. She is no longer the school girl with the magic wand, she i a strong, influential woman standing up and speaking about something that she truly believes in.
Perhaps what I find most significant in Watson’s speech is how she talks about the actual word “feminism,” recognising and clarifying today’s common misconceptions.
“I decided that I was a feminist. This seemed uncomplicated to me. But my recent research has shown me that feminism has become an unpopular word. Women are choosing not to identify as feminists.”
Unfortunately, I also find this to be true. Women can often be ashamed to be thought of as feminists because it would mean they were too aggressive, too strong and of course, too man-hating. Why is it that feminism has become something to shy away from? How can an idea that men and women should be equal be seen as something negative?
The truth is many people can’t shift the idea that feminism simply means “anti-men.” Even though most people are informed enough to know that this couldn’t be further from the truth, it is a stigma which seems to be sticking around. I know young women who would never admit to being a feminist, particularly in front of men, for fear of being mocked or causing outrage, but what is so outrageous about an idea, a movement, where everyone in the world has equal rights?
If the young women of today cannot call themselves feminists and do not believe in this idea then what hope do campaigns such as #HeForShe actually have? This is but one of the reasons why Watson’s speech holds such importance and has made such a far-reaching impact.
If everyone – male and female – who watches the speech, while scrolling through Twitter, thinks for a second about what feminism actually means, not just for women, but for everyone, and not just for today, but for the long-term, then Watson’s speech has made a difference.
Too often we think to ourselves,”Who am I to talk about that?” “Who am I to make any difference?” Well, who was Emma Watson? She’s the girl who asked herself and us,
“If not you, who? If not now, when?”