Over the past few day I’ve been seeing people on my Facebook timeline posting the video of a speech made by Emma Watson at a recent UN conference. Comments like “Everyone should watch this” and “This is for men too” went along with my friends posts. Her speech was so widely publicised and spoken about that I thought I should check it out. While I may be a couple of days late to the party I have to say that I was just as inspired by Watson’s speech as my friends were.
In her speech, Emma explains that feminism is an unpopular word that’s often synonymous with men hating but that’s not really what it’s about – it’s about social, economic and political equality of the sexes. One of the most powerful parts to her speech was the fact that she addressed male gender inequality which is often overlooked. Emma brought up the fact that suicide is the biggest killer among men because it’s not socially acceptable for them to show their feelings. With that in mind, Watson suggested that gender equality is a human rights issue. That we all, men and women alike, should be striving for a world where we’re all treated the same regardless of our sex. That’s where HeForShe comes in. It’s a campaign to bring together men and women all over the world to once and for all get rid of gender inequality. Of course, that’s an awful lot easier said than done but she made a damn good point and it got us all talking.
Emma also spoke about how she was nervous of making her speech but asked herself “If not me, who? If not now, when?” Those questions got me thinking. I’m a 23-year old female. Like Emma Watson I’m privileged in that I received an equal chance at education and employment. I can’t complain that I’m not treated the same as men in that respect. I’m in my final year in university studying alongside males and females as well as working a part time job that pays an equal salary to both male and female employees. However, I still see a need for change. I still come across gender discrimination. On a night out I have to defend myself from men grabbing my ass, at work I have to smile while male customers make inappropriate comments and in college I have to sit there and listen while others make sexist jokes. Why do I sit there and take it? Because I’m afraid of speaking out. Because I’m afraid of being called a bitch for addressing a guy for groping me and because I’m afraid of being labelled and portrayed in a negative light.
Why, as a female should I have to be worried to stand up for myself and tell that man his comment made me uncomfortable? Why am I afraid of using my own agency? It’s not just women who come across these gender discriminations. Men have to be seen as the macho ones, the tough ones who aren’t allowed to get upset. Why should a male have to hold back on speaking about how he feels? Why should that guy in my class, that guy walking down the street or any guy at all have to be afraid of letting their guard down? Why should we be worried about expressing ourselves? A woman speaks up – she’s a bitch. A man asks for help – he’s a woss. We’re doing it to ourselves and it needs to stop. On a daily basis I’m subjected to gender stereotypes – we all are! No one escapes it.
This article may not be shared as much as Emma Watson’s speech but it’s my way of speaking out and addressing an issue that is relevant to my everyday life. I believe in social, economic and political equality of the sexes. I believe that women can be strong and men can be vulnerable. I believe that we all deserve the right to an education, to employment, to love, to every single hope and dream that we have. I believe we shouldn’t be denied any of those rights based on our gender. I believe that we are all equal. I am a feminist and I am a believer in gender quality.
Join the HeForShe movement here and let the world know you’re ready to be equal.
You can take a look at Emma Watson’s address to the UN below. Please feel free to comment on any issues raised in this article, if you agree or disagree with what I have said. This an issue that affects everyone.