SARAH BECK ’DOAH CONTRIBUTING WRITER
The extremely beautiful and talented Emma Watson gave a mov- ing gender equality speech and in- troduced the “HeforShe” campaign for the United Nations on Saturday, Sept. 19. She has been appointed to the United Nations for six months now, and she has definitely made a powerful impact as an actor to make a difference for gender equality. It’s a politician’s job to speak publicly on certain topics. However, it has been seen that actors and people in the industry of entertainment have the ability to influence society more so than experienced politicians. It is not in the job description of an actor to speak on certain beliefs, which is why it makes more of an impact.
Emma Watson says, by definition, that feminism is“belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of political, economic and social equality.” The word, feminism, has become a word with negative connotations. She asks the interesting question, “Why has the word become such an uncomfortable one?” By the definition she gave, she makes a point. Feminism shouldn’t be an uncomfortable word for people because all it means is the belief of equal rights.
Watson doesn’t only talk about feminism. In the beginning of her speech, she makes a statement that “we want to end gender inequality.” She then talks about gender equality and how it is not only about women, it is about men too.“I’ve seen men made fragile and insecure by the distorted sense of what constitutes male success.
Men don’t have the benefit of equal- ity either. We often don’t talk about men being imprisoned by gender stereotypes but I can see that they are and that when they are free, things will change for women as a natural consequence.”
Watson also goes on to talk about if it starts with the men’s change, it will cause a ripple effect for change on treating women. She had such a strong message for her audience that left people thinking about what change is needed in society. One memorable quote would be “I should be able to make decisions about my own body.”
In saying that, there was a roar of applause. She also said, “If we stop defining each other by what we are not and start defining ourselves by who we are, we can all be freer.” All of what she said was meant for everyone to hear because there needs to be this change for equivalence between the sexes and the empowerment of women.
Her impressive speech gave more for people to think about in this concern. She talks about Hillary Clinton and said “In 1997, Hillary Clinton made a famous speech in Beijing about women’s rights. Sadly, many of the things she wanted to change are still true today.” This goes to show that people, especially young people like myself, can connect with a celebrity that they’ve grown to love more than a politician. I know that I was able to listen to Emma Watson more than I would Hillary Clinton because I understood more of Emma Watson’s standpoint. To me, it’s rather sad that a politician who is a master at public speaking, knows the govern- ment very well, and wants to be a leader can’t get a message across. But a twenty-four year old, who is known for being in “Harry Potter,” is able to move a group of people? I am curious to see if this becomes a trend.
Inspiring actors in the past like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ronald Reagan, or Fred Thompson have been in politics and did well as a leader, but they targeted for older adults that watched news, rather than for the younger generation who are still developing political opinions. Emma Watson did both.
Watson could be the speaker on this problem and amend it for the better. She has done something very revolutionary for equality between women and men and support for women’s rights. “We are struggling for a uniting word [feminism] but the good news is we have an uniting movement. It is called He for She.” She is using the world-wide-web to get her message across to everyone so that they can build a brighter future for both genders. People are now able to log on to this website and click agree for the future change of gender equality. Watson asks the audience to ask themselves “If not me, who? If not now, when?” leaving them in thought. You can go to the web- site and agree for modification for gender equality at http://www.heforshe.org. You can also watch the full UN Speech Watson gave on Sept. 19 at http://www.unwomen.org. Emma Watson has done a wonderful thing glob- ally and hopefully, she will make a change in this world. Just because she’s not known for being in the political field, does not mean that she’s not capable of using her fame for discussing important issues happening in our culture.