When Emma Watson stepped on stage last week in front of the UN delegates and delivered a mesmerising speech filled with both eloquence and nerves, it was impossible to imagine that she would receive any backlash.
Dressed in a formal, grey suit Watson launched the UN’s HeForShe campaign, asking men to unite with women in the fight for gender equality. She stated that both men and women need to be “advocates for change”.
Watson, who is the UN Goodwill Ambassador, delivered a powerful speech condemning the harm of gender inequality. She recalled how at age eight she was called ‘bossy’ for wanting to direct a school play and how at 15 her friends dropped out of school sports for fear of being ‘muscly’.
Watson also made the point that feminism does not mean ‘man hating’. It doesn’t mean that we as women stand together and try to take over the world from men by diminishing them. Watson also focused on male equality when she spoke about their fear of expressing emotions when they become teenagers. The HeForShe campaign aims to wipe these gender stereotypes in the hope of achieving equality for all.
Men across the world are willing to support and relate to this new campaign as they are fathers, brothers, sons and husbands. The campaign has also received much support from a wide range of celebrities from Harry Styles to Joseph Gordon-Levitt. It’s good to see feminism being treated seriously at an international level.
However Watson’s speech struck a nerve on the topic of male equality. While the lads were busy creating the Yorkie bar it seems that women have come to the fore in gender equality. Although the struggle for women’s equality is still a real struggle it would appear that male equality still has some work to do. Recently a picture of 15-year-old Beckham Cruz modelling a pair of underwear went viral. On twitter older women seemed to rejoice at the picture sexualising young Beckham. Comments such as “I can’t wait for him to be 18” and “he makes me want to be a cougar” filled Twitter. It makes you think that if this was a group of older men taking about a 15-year-old girl, things would be treated very differently. Quite frankly there would be public uproar. It’s clear that men still have to fight for equality too.
That’s what I love most about the HeForShe campaign. While it is a campaign for women’s rights and its aim is to receive men’s support on the issueit is also about male equality. It’s not about feminism in the sense of giving women an upper hand. It’s about working towards gender equality for both men and women and working together to achieve it.
But there are always those who hate ‘feminists’ and internet hackers threatened to release nude pictures of Watson. While many of us doubted that Watson actually has nudes, after the recent iCloud hacking, we had reason to be fearful. The hackers, known as Rantic Marketing, turned out to be a hoax (shock horror), but it’s distressing how people in our society use sexuality as a punishment for being a successful woman. If one thing is certain, it’s that this hoax proved the need for a campaign such as HeForShe.