Gender Equality from the Eyes of Emma Watson

I think we've all realized this by now, but Emma Watson is no longer the young, lion-haired, wand wielding, smart aleck girl whom we saw grace the screen for the first time in the Harry Potter movies starting over a decade ago. I think that realization hit me the hardest when my seventh grade English teacher, almost fresh out of Brown University (the college that Emma attended), told me about his encounters with her at parties. I remember him describing Emma as short, quiet, kind, and most prevalently: mature beyond her years.
   She still finds amazing success on the big screen (notably The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Noah, The Bling Ring, and My Week with Marilyn), and proves that she is mature in sublime ways throughout films that showcase her wide variety of talent in acting. From broken girl in the 90's, to a biblical character, as well as a Calabasas snob, Emma has done it all.
   Recently, she was able to show off yet another one of her skills: public speaking ― which no one should find surprising, given the fact that her talent is talking and portraying emotions. Emma's speech on September 20th at the United Nations conference as the UN Women's Ambassador did not just empower the room, but empowered the world. Her eloquent address was a call to arms not just for women to start standing up for themselves, but for men to do the same, and speak up for women. She launched HeForShe, what the official website calls, "A solidarity movement for gender equality."

   So many things were right about this incredibly delivered oration, one of which being her referencing Hillary Clinton's (former United States first lady) 1995 speech, stating: "It is no longer acceptable to discuss women's rights as separate from human rights."
   The foundations of this quote are palpable to me: women are equal to men. So, why aren't we treated equally? Why are our wages lower? But, there is such thing as 'reverse sexism' (which should not exist either―sexism is also gender neutral).

With one small sentence, Emma Watson changed the game:
"Men, I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue too."

   Yes, men, gender equality is also your issue. The other day, one of my closest male friends told me, "I think you're going to be a professional feminist when you're older, but you know, like one that does journalism."
   I shouldn't have to be a professional feminist. This should be an issue that everyone understands and respects, and tries to change. There are no such things as sluts, but there are no such thing as man whores either. You can't rape a woman because they're wearing something revealing, and vice vera with a man.
   Everything in the universe has an opposite. Anything sexist that happens to a woman can also happen to a man ― even though it's not as common. To state that certain things only happen to women but can also occur to men is defeating the point and reversing the sexism.
   One common misconception that needs to be dispelled is that feminists hate men. False. The feminists that hate men are just people that hate men who happen to be feminist. I'm a huge feminist, but some of my closest friends are of the opposite gender, and I will willingly admit that I get crushes on boys pretty frequently.

"The more I have spoken about feminism, the more I have realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating," Emma said. "If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop. For the record, feminism, by definition, is the 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."

Men should not hate feminists, and if you do, that says a lot about you as a person. It says that you're someone unwilling to change and modernize, and that you're scared of what you don't know. Your own cowardly behavior is not something you can take out on a gender, but something that you need to fix on your own time.
   I hate to be full on rude, but women who are antifeminist absolutely disgust me. How could you be anti of something that you are? That's like being Jewish and going to temple and having a bat mitzvah, yet telling people that you're anti-semitic. It completely destroys the point, and makes your life harder. Yep! By being anti-feminist, you're making your own life harder. *Shocker*.
   Emma talked about organizations, such as MEN CAN STOP RAPE, and desperately encouraged men to take up arms and protect women from violence. She pleaded with the world to stop victim blaming. She also talked about the struggles that boys, not just girls, are going through. The cool factor that pushes boys to do many unacceptable things is actually unhelpful. Emma gave the statistic that in the United Kingdom, suicide is the biggest killer of men between the ages of 20-24 ― an unnecessary number that needs to be reduced as fast as possible.
   She was able to recruit an astounding number of supporters almost immediately, from normal males everywhere to some more famous, including Tom Hiddleston, Russell Crowe, Douglas Booth, Logan Lerman, Harry Styles, Prince Harry, and others.

Emma closed with this quote that really emphasized on the entire point of her passionate speech: gender equality and freedom.

"Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong. … It is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum, not as two opposing sets of ideals. If we stop defining each other by what we are not and start defining ourselves by what we are — we can all be freer. And this is what HeForShe is about. It’s about freedom."

To watch Emma's speech, click here.
Images via Tumblr.