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Emma Watson-Feminist: is it a dirty word?

So this week Harry potter star and UN Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson gave a speech at the United Nations Headquarters, New York, on feminism which is causing a huge stir in the media. Trending on Facebook, topping on Twitter and heading viral on YouTube it has certainly made an impact.

Here at WMW our ladies have always been more than happy to express their views on the subject, with articles like A Tale of Feminism and Submission, For those opposed to Feminism and Is Feminism still necessary?  Indeed, I myself wrote a light-hearted piece, Damn those Suffragettes, on my not so feminist take on life for one of my first articles for WMW.

However, seeing the passion with which Emma Watson delivered her speech and the subsequent reaction to it, I feel it’s time to consider the matter more deeply

So what was the speech about?

  • Feminism has negative connotations. Emma started her speech by discussing the negative association with the word feminism and how it has “become synonymous with man-hating”. She implored that “this has to stop”. I have to say as an opening statement it got my attention as I tend to be quite dismissive of feminist rants, tarring them all with the same brush, something I shamefacedly admit to involving man-hating and hairy armpits…
  • Becoming a feminist. She went on to explain why she decided herself to become a feminist, exemplifying her reasoning with personal experiences such as “being sexualised by certain elements of the press” at the age of 14.
  • Men need to get involved in the issue of gender equality. This was part of her speech that resonated with me most. That the ‘HeForShe’ campaign being launched is as much about equality for men as for women. She went on to explain that until “men don’t have to control, women won’t have to be controlled”. I for one felt that this approach of not men vs. women, but equality (‘HeforShe’ has much more balanced connotations in my mind that ‘Feminism’) was her most striking point. On a smaller scale, I considered the frequency with which I am put on nappy duty as public changing facilities are in the ladies toilets but not available to men. As opposed to being a problem for me, I started sympathising with the single dads struggling to find facilities to change their children. Point well made Miss Watson.
  • She ended with some statistics on how gender inequality is set to continue if nothing is done. Quoting, “If we do nothing it will take 75 years, or for me to be nearly a hindered before women can expect to be paid the same as men for the same work, 15.5 million girls will be married in the next 16 years as children. And at current rates in wont’ be until 2086 before all rural African girls will be able to receive a secondary education”.

So although I will not be declaring myself a feminist any time soon, for the first time I am considering the issues presented on a wider scale. Feminism might not be for me, but maybe the ‘HeForShe’ campaign could be.

Watch the full speech here

Learn more about the HeForShe campaign here.

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