I am a feminist. I am a woman. Already, you might have an idea of the person you think I am. Bossy, stubborn, controlling, aggressive? Unfortunately in today’s society, there are negative connotations associated with being both a woman and a feminist. A feminist, according to Emma Watson and her research, has been proven “unpopular”. Those considered feminist are also perceived to be “too strong, too aggressive, isolating, anti-men and, unattractive”.
For the record, I am not a man-hater, nor do I blame men for the gender inequality that exists in today’s world. The true beauty of Watson’s UN address on feminism was the call for both men and boys to become advocates for gender equality. Whether we are aware of it or not, we have all experienced gender inequality at some point in our lives. Testament to this is the unfortunate prevalence of suicide in young men, as Watson touched on, because it is not “manly” to talk about one’s feelings. For every man who has ever felt the need to “grow a pair”, this applies to you.
For every woman who has ever felt the need to tell another man she has a boyfriend when she doesn’t, simply because more respect was given to the idea of another man than the idea that she just wasn’t interested, this goes for you too. Gender equality and, indeed, general inequality affects both sexes. Inequality exists in all areas that feminism, by definition, strives for equality in: politically, economically and socially.
What I loved about Watson’s speech was her indirect challenge to Hilary Clinton’s 1997 Beijing speech on women’s rights, to an audience where only thirty per cent were male. As Watson clearly states and very aptly includes: “Men don’t have the benefits of equality either”. Surely for a speech on gender equality, an equal amount of both males and females should be present? I commend her attitude in that gender should be perceived on a spectrum, not as two separate entities with opposing ideals. Perhaps this is where our conflict has arisen, by defining ourselves by who we are as males or females as opposed to being Leanne, John, Mark, Clare, etc.
“If we stop defining each other by what we are not and start defining ourselves by what we are,” then we can all be truly free, happy and equal. Watson’s message is loud and clear and she deservedly received a standing ovation for her passionate speech.