This week I watched Emma Watson’s speech on gender inequality given before the UN launching the He for She campaign. I have said before that I am a big Harry Potter fan and I am also a huge Emma Watson fan. This speech just made me admire her even more and marvel at the classy woman our Hermione has become.
The speech addressed a lot of reasons why gender equality is important, highlighting that it isn’t just about the rights of women, though that is an important piece, but also the limitations placed on men based on current gender role stereotypes and demands. I applaud the acknowledgement that men are also trapped by the expectations placed on them.
Perhaps one of the best moments in her speech was when she mentioned a famous speech made by Hillary Clinton regarding women’s rights, pointing out that of the audience only a small percentage were male, using this to illustrate how men may not always feel welcome in discussion of gender issues. The audience applauded her when she then formally invited men to join the conversation. I had to applaud a bit myself. 🙂
Another part of her speech that really spoke to me was her assertion that:
Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong.
She spoke of how freeing men from their current gender definitions and demands will naturally also affect how men relate to the women in their lives. As an example, she mentioned that if men do not feel that to be manly they need to be aggressive, women may not then feel the need to be submissive.
As a writer, this challenges me to write characters that support the ideas of gender equality. Can we create more men and boys that are allowed to be sensitive? Can we write strong women and girls? I would hope so, and that we, as readers would then embrace those characters.
As a mother of boys, I feel challenged in many ways. It is my fervent hope that I raise my sons with the freedom to express their sensitive sides and not ever believe that being vulnerable equals weakness. It is also my job to make sure they see women as equals and to be the kind of men who would join the fight to protect and empower women.
Ms. Watson talked about the people in her own life who were perhaps inadvertent ‘feminists’ because of the way they helped shape her and afford her the rights many women currently fight for today. I have also been blessed with people who have allowed me the freedom and opportunities to be the woman I am today. I have parents who never treated me as less because I am female. My dad has always been supportive of me and my sister and has always encouraged us to do whatever we want to do. I also saw how he treated my mom, with respect, so that I had high expectations for how the man I would marry would treat me. I have been blessed with a husband who is supportive and respectful and now models for our sons how a good man treats a woman. All the guys in my house could join the He for She campaign. 🙂
The newly launched He For She campaign has been using social media to spread the word. You can follow the #HeForShe hashtag to see men (and women), including some famous faces, who have pledged to support the campaign, declaring they are ‘he for she’. Below are some of my favorites – and yes of course my Fangirl favorite is included. 😉
Please check out her speech and check out the He for She campaign for gender equality. I’d love to hear what you think about it in the comments. Have a great week!