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Emma Watson UN address

| Thursday, September 25, 2014

emma-watson-un-address-webSusan Zhu | The Observer
Hermione Granger was the original #GirlBoss. A heroine who had book-smarts and wasn’t afraid to show them off or contribute ideas to her sometimes “dimwitted” male counterparts, she was the empowering female figure young girls needed. Hermione not only brought us this enabling fictional character, but she brought out another female role model: the equally smart and driven actress behind her, Emma Watson.

Watson graduated from Brown University last May and now serves as the United Nations Women Goodwill Ambassador. She addressed the UN Saturday to promote the #HeForShe campaign, a movement to get men more involved in the issue of gender equality.

“How can we effect change in the world when only half of it is invited to participate in the conversation? Men, I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue, too.,” she said. “I want men to take up this mantle so their daughters, sisters and mothers can be free from prejudice but also so their sons have permission to be vulnerable and human too and in doing so, be a more true and complete version of themselves.”

She acknowledged the stigma against the word “feminism” and its perceived connotation of “man-hating.”

“Why has the word become such an uncomfortable one? I think it is right I am paid the same as my male counterparts. I think it is right that I should make decisions about my own body. I think it is right that women be involved on my behalf in the policies and decisions that will affect my life. I think it is right that socially, I am afforded the same respect as men,” she said.

Watson’s eloquent, empowering speech has attracted lots of news and social media attention this week. One of the first to respond to the #HeForShe movement was Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Gordon-Levitt has addressed the negative associations with feminism before, most notably on the Ellen Show back in January.

“I do call myself a feminist. Absolutely!” Joseph explained on the show. “It’s worth paying attention to the roles that are sort of dictated to us and that we don’t have to fit into those roles. We can be anybody we wanna be.”

Levitt brought these views back to the forefront on Monday, tweeting a video asking people to respond with what feminism means to them. He tweeted the video asking to get #Feminism trending, as the first autofill on Twitter was #FeministsAreUgly. He plans to use some of the submitted responses in an upcoming feminist-focused episode of his TV show, “hitRECord: On TV.”

With Watson and Levitt supporting this motion to reform society’s view of “the f-word,” the campaign is sure to continue to receive media attention. Let’s just say that when the two stood on stage at the Oscars together last year, I may or may not have tweeted, “OMG EMANAT AATSON AND JOSEPH GORDON LEVITT TOGETHER CRYINH OMG WHAT LOVE POWER COUPLE,” an unfiltered display of the raw, impassioned emotions these two can produce.

Although Watson and Levitt are at the front of the topic of gender equality this week, the subject of feminism has been a contentious subject addressed by everyone from Beyonce to Tina Fey this year.

Beyonce has been the topic of numerous feminist articles this year – referencing her song “***Flawless” and its incorporation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s speech “We Should All be Feminists,” as well as the illuminated FEMINIST sign incorporated into her VMA performance.

Tina Fey’s autobiography title, “Bossypants,” says it all. A woman who is direct and effective in communication is considered bossy, whereas a man in that same situation would more likely be considered a powerful leader. Fey recently spoke out against the idea of “grey-faced men with two-dollar haircuts” trying to define “legitimate rape” for women.

This call to revive and refine feminism and gender equality is especially relevant after the recent nude photo leaks of celebrities, all female, on 4chan. Unfortunately, after Emma Watson delivered her address for gender equality, threats were posted on the website warning “Emma, You Are Next.” Although this blackmail, thankfully, proved empty – according to CNN, this is exactly the type of demeaning objectification these movements are working to eliminate from our culture.

The movement is being promoted by celebrities, which works to bring it to the attention of the public. However, we must continue where they leave off – we must promote gender equality in our own lives, we must not restrict people’s aspirations due to accepted gender roles and we must support each other in this movement. For, as Emma Watson so ardently stated, “If not (us), who? If not now, when?”

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About Erin McAuliffe

I'm Scene's editor and a senior Marketing & Journalism student. To quote the exquisite Sadie Dupuis, "I'm not bossy — I'm the boss."

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