Emma Watson delivered a speech as the UN Global Goodwill Ambassador to launch HeForShe, a campaign that encourages men to participate in the discussion of feminism. The aim is to have at least 1 billion men sign an online pledge that states: “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.” So far, male celebrities like Tom Hiddleston (swoon), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (swoon), and Harry Styles (swoon!) have welcomed the challenge with open arms.
During the speech, Watson pointed out that equal rights for the genders concerns men as much as it does women, and that everybody benefits from a level playing field, as Refinery29 puts it.
“We don’t want to talk about men being imprisoned by gender stereotypes but I can see that they are. When they are free, things will change for women as a natural consequence. If men don’t have to be aggressive, women won’t be compelled to be submissive. If men don’t need to control, women won’t have to be controlled.”
Although Emma Watson’s speech didn’t present any revolutionary ideas, it was packaged and delivered by somebody who I believe has the potential to interest, not alienate, the general public. With so many women in the public eye who shy away from the term “feminist” (ahem, Shailene Woodley) and a few (like Taylor Swift) who are just beginning to embrace it, the role that Watson plays here is pivotal. She is a woman who many look up to, and her place in the public eye has garnered a lot of positive buzz around the speech.
Unfortunately, with anything that gets this much attention from the general public, there are internet trolls who have to come along and steal the spotlight. That is exactly what has happened, with a group of anonymous people who originally posted on 4chan threatening to leak Emma Watson’s nudes, which would undermine her position and have her be just another notch in the recent chain of female celebrity photo leaks. It turned out, however, that this was a hoax, staged by the same group who promised information about Brian, the dog on Family Guy, during his brief death on the show. People have raised different reasons for why this was done, either to make money off of internet traffic or in order to shut down 4chan and limit internet freedom, but either way, this was a cruel, cruel prank.
There has never been a better time to discuss feminism and how important its existence is to women today, especially with the scandal that the leaked nudes situation has grown into. We are well into the 21st century, and it is fundamental that we all have the same access to equal wages and equal rights. HeForShe is a step in the right direction and I, as a woman and a feminist, can only hope that this acts as a catalyst for further progress.
You can watch the full speech here.