Recently, there has been some serious buzz surrounding Emma Watson’s UN speech to launch the UN’s “He For She” campaign. This campaign “is a solidarity movement for gender equality that brings together one half of humanity in support of the other of humanity, for the entirety of humanity.” What this means is that it is a movement designed to bring men into the arena of feminism to advocate for gender equality. Not women having power over men or the maintenance of the status quo, but a movement to aid in women getting equal pay, for men to feel comfortable talking about emotions, and a movement that doesn’t create two linear categories of gender.
Often times, the word “feminism” gets caught up in the hullabaloo of stereotypes and people often misconstrue it is a movement of women who hate men. This is not the case. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, feminism is “the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.” This is what feminism is about and this is the view that should be purported to the masses rather than the skewed woman-power/man-hating reputation that the general public has become inclined to see it as.
Throughout Watson’s speech, one line caught my eye in particular: “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.” I especially enjoy this line because it proposes to break down the barrier that restricts men and women from feeling and acting ways that have become distinctly “masculine” or “feminine.” Men are constantly seen as strong, powerful, stoic, and loud, whereas, women are generally seen as fragile, weak, emotional, and quiet. Because these adjectives have been so often used to describe those of each gender, they have become engrained in society and it has become difficult to break free from their bounds.
The “He for She” campaign proposes measures to end this, to demonstrate to men and women that it’s ok to have any of these characteristics and still be treated equally and respectfully. Watson calls for “everyone to be involved” in this movement towards gender equality and makes a point to invite men to join the movement. Not that they need an invitation in my opinion, but this gesture can be seen as drawing men’s attention to an already open door. To show that it doesn’t make them any less of a man for walking through that door and accepting that invitation.
On the He For She website, there is an online commitment that is available for anyone, across the world to sign stating, “Gender equality is not only a women’s issue, it is a human rights issue that requires my participation. I commit to take action against all forms of violence and discrimination faced by women and girls.” This is an interesting concept because it gives people across the world the opportunity to be a part of the same fight. It serves as a catalyst for unification and equality, and hopefully as this continues to gain momentum, notions of gender will change along with it, for a more positive and equal experience for all.
for a link to the written version of Watson’s speech click here