On Sept. 22, “Harry Potter” actress Emma Watson took to the floor of the United Nations to voice her opinion on the important topic of gender equality.
“The more I’ve spoken about feminism, the more I’ve realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating,” said Watson. “Feminism, by definition, is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.”
In recent years, feminism has become a very controversial social topic. Women who promote feminism are often being put in a negative light and are accused of being over-dramatic and bossy. Feminism is not either of those things; it is a movement that men and women alike should partake in.
So many times, male roles have not been challenged, but the stereotypes that are created for men are more prevalent than ever. Young boys have been taught to be strong and overpower women in order to be defined as real man. This is unfortunately untrue and the stereotype needs to be broken.
“I’ve seen young men suffering from mental illness unable to ask for help for fear it would make them less than a man,” said Watson. “Men don’t have the benefits of equality either.”
During her UN speech, Watson introduced the campaign “He for She.” Formally inviting men to the conversation of gender inequality, the campaign asks men to stand up not only for the women in their lives, but also their sons, brothers and fathers.
“I want men to take up this mantel,” said Watson. “Their sons have permission to be vulnerable and human too.”
Many critics have said that Watson’s speech is not groundbreaking and the Internet is now exaggerating many things that have already been brought to light. On the contrary, Watson is the face that youth needed to see. If a random psychologist were speaking about this, youth would not care, but since it is essentially Hermione Granger saying this, it is making a difference.
Many youth have been reposting this speech on multiple social media websites. A common comment with it has been “50 points for Gryffindor.” This highlights just how the “Harry Potter” actress was able to make a change in her powerful position.
“It is time we all perceive gender on a spectrum instead of two sets of opposing ideals,” said Watson. “I am inviting you to step forward to be seen and to ask yourself if not me, who? If not now, when?”
Now is the time to make a difference. If today’s youth wait until their adults in powerful positions, it will be too late.