Emma Watson Gives Moving Feminist Speech at U.N. HeForShe Campaign Launch (Update)
UPDATE (9/25/2014 1:26 a.m. PST):
Turns out, the threats that Emma Watson reportedly received from 4chan users were actually part of a “viral marketing hoax” by Rantic, a company that wants the online bulletin board shut down. As The Guardian’s Jessica Valenti puts it, however, “The Emma Watson hoax was a cravenly opportunistic move to gin up attention using a real issue, a real woman and real fear that women and marginalized groups across the internet face constantly. That’s not marketing or consciousness-raising: it’s harassment.” Many Facebook users responded to the stunt with outrage, according to the BBC; one user even called the stunt “morally bankrupt” on Rantic’s social media page. At least the HeForShe campaign is no hoax, so be sure to listen to the actress’ powerful speech below.
Emma Watson, known especially but not only for her role as Hermione in the “Harry Potter” film series, gave a strong-willed, poignant speech Saturday at the United Nations headquarters as a recently appointed goodwill ambassador for women. Watson’s speech, which focused on her “uncomplicated” choice to identify as a feminist and the need to destigmatize the term, commenced a new campaign called HeForShe that aims to encourage “men and boys” to join the fight for gender equality.
The actress explained that at a very young age, as she was discriminated against and sexualized by virtue of being born a woman, she learned about sexism and feminism, and yet during her recent research realized that feminism has become synonymous with “man-hating.” “If there’s one thing I know for certain,” said Watson, addressing the U.N. officials and, thanks to YouTube, the world, “it is that this has to stop. For the record, feminism by definition is the belief that men and women have equal rights and opportunities.”
Though a simple definition such as the one Watson offers may seem redundant, in a world in which misguided movements such as the irreconcilably named Women Against Feminism have gained a surprising amount of traction, a clear cut explanation of the term is not only necessary, it’s imperative.
The goodwill ambassador also eloquently explained why the campaign is focusing on males: “We don’t often 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.”
And although Watson extended a “formal invitation” to men and boys to participate in the conversation about gender equality, which she makes clear is “your issue too,” some of the replies she received were less than understanding. Several users of the online bulletin board 4chan decided to respond by making public threats that the 24-year-old would be the “next” victim in a recent spate of celebrity nude photo leaks for being a “feminist bitch.” One user went so far as to say that Watson will “show the world she is as much of a whore as any woman.” They even set up a website with a self-explanatory URL: EmmaYouAreNext.com.
It should go without saying, but I’ll take a page out of Watson’s book and put things as clearly as possible for those who don’t seem to understand the importance of campaigns such as HeForShe: The vitriolic, degrading outpouring that a brave young woman’s speech about feminism can still receive only proffers further proof that we need movements such as Watson’s and women such as her to continue to be as outspoken as possible about human rights. And yes, it’s human rights that are at stake here because regardless of the gender that people may want to identify with, or the label they’ve been assigned for being born with one set of sex organs or another, we are all humans.
And this is about us all.
—Posted by Natasha Hakimi ZapataWait, before you go…
If you're reading this, you probably already know that non-profit, independent journalism is under threat worldwide. Independent news sites are overshadowed by larger heavily funded mainstream media that inundate us with hype and noise that barely scratch the surface. We believe that our readers deserve to know the full story. Truthdig writers bravely dig beneath the headlines to give you thought-provoking, investigative reporting and analysis that tells you what’s really happening and who’s rolling up their sleeves to do something about it.
Like you, we believe a well-informed public that doesn’t have blind faith in the status quo can help change the world. Your contribution of as little as $5 monthly or $35 annually will make you a groundbreaking member and lays the foundation of our work.Support Truthdig