Emma Watson, UN Good Will Ambassador addressed the UN in New York on September 20th, regarding the launch of a new movement, HeForShe, which encourages men to actively advocate gender equality.
Some claim that “the Harry Potter girl” has no place addressing the UN, however the intended outcome is being achieved. The movement is gaining momentum – people are talking about feminism, about gender equality. Having formally invited the male population to join the cause will only increase this momentum.
In an inspiring speech, Watson highlighted how damaging the current stereotype of feminism is, claiming it is frequently associated with “man-hating” and “being unattractive”. This has allowed many to ridicule the cause.
Watson went on to shut down this common misconception. She defined feminism as “the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities”, hoping to reduce the unpopularity of the term, and abolish the “men vs women” stereotype.
The Harry Potter star spoke about how gender inequality affects both sexes, about how men often feel unable to express their feelings out of fear of appearing less “macho”, and suggested that if “we all perceive gender on a spectrum, not as two opposing sets of ideals” then we can start on the road to a more gender-equal society.
Despite controversy amongst some, this will be a great step forward for the gender equality movement as a whole. By attempting to remove the damaging “lady-like” and “manly” stereotypes, the hope is that there will be no reason to live up to said stereotypes, and thus both sexes will be freed from the expectation to behave in a certain way, and from the shame factor of not behaving in said way.
Following this empowering speech, internet trolls on 4Chan were accused of creating a website which appeared threatening to release nude photographs of Watson.
It was later revealed that the post was actually a hoax by marketing organization Rantic, to prove to the US government why it is necessary to shut 4Chan down. And they did so successfully.
These misogynists, who routinely wield sexual terror as a threat, send the message that for women to avoid being sexually harassed, they must retreat and reduce their role in society.
Their presence is one of many reasons this movement needs to exist in the first place.
Overall, though, Watson has been a perfect spokeswoman for her cause. She refused to be intimidated, even before the threat was revealed to be a hoax.
Furthermore, her speech actively worked to break down the barriers between men and feminism, and has served to help the cause significantly.