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Emma Watson- Leader of a New Feminist Movement?

Updated on October 7, 2014

Emma's HeForShe Campaign

Two weeks after the fact, UN Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson is still gathering speed from her UN speech encouraging a revised movement for gender equality. In the speech, Emma reflects how the word "feminism" has become unpopular, often viewed as "man-hating." But what feminism really means, is believing men and women to be equals.


Emma said that feminism is a term that should be used by both men and women. She explained during her infamous speech:

"I've seen my father's role as a parent being valued less by society. I've seen young men suffering from mental illness, unable to ask for help for fear it would make them less of a man ... I've seen men fragile and insecure by what constitutes male success. Men don't have the benefits of equality, either. We don't often talk about men being imprisoned by gender stereotypes but I can see that they are."

As a result, men have slowly started to join the fight. A teenage boy sent Emma a letter, supporting her vision for gender equality. Many celebrities have also taken pictures in support of the campaign, holding up signs that say, "HeForShe," and posting it on their social media.



Elizabeth Cady Stanton on Gender Equality:

  • "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal.

Emma Watson on Gender Equality:

  • ". . . I think it is right that women be involved on my behalf in the policies and decision-making of my country. I think it is right that socially I am afforded the same respect as men."


Feminism Throughout History

Gender equality supporters have suffered a long road. In the United States, the first push for women's rights occurred at the Seneca Falls Convention, lead by activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Much like Watson, the women who attended brought their appeal to men. In Stanton's “Declaration of Sentiments, Grievances, and Resolutions,” she attempted to amend the preamble, saying: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal.”

After the the United States gave women the right to vote in 1920, women activism died down. It wasn't until the 1960s that a new feminist movement emerged. Following in step with the Civil Rights Movement, the feminist movement began with Betty Friedan's book, The Feminine Mystique, written in 1962. In the book, she discredited the idea that housewives were content with their lives. Focusing on educated, middle class women, she called on them to search for employment outside the home.

But it was not just educated, middle class women who responded. Women of all different backgrounds, the young and the old, the rich and poor, the educated and the not, began to rise to the task. From the 1960s to the 1970s, several women's issues were addressed. Some of these included a more equal pay for women in the workplace, the passing of sexual harassment laws, increased educational opportunities for women, and the acknowledgment of a woman's right to birth control and abortion.

Though the movement thrived for several years, it eventually diminished in the 1970s with the efforts of a strong anti-feminist movement that erupted as a backlash. As a result, women's efforts were left unfinished, and the term "feminism" became seen as radical rather than a push for equality. .

Watson's Goals for the HeForShe Campaign

Emma Watson's goals for the new HeForShe Campaign are high. She longs to erase gender inequality in the world once and for all, uniting both men and women together under the cause.

Some issues she wishes to address include:

  • The dramatic pay gap between men and women, in both developed and undeveloped countries.
  • Sexual threats in the media, including the release of nude/promiscuous photos without the woman's consent.
  • Violence against women worldwide and the constant efforts to blame women for the violent acts being committed against them.
  • Expectations of people based on gender; examples include a man's expectation to strong and powerful, and a woman's expectation to be beautiful.
  • The presumption that mothers play a more important role in parenthood than fathers, and the judicial discrimination that happens as a result.
  • The lack of access to educational institutions for women in underdeveloped countries.

Though ambitious, Emma's efforts have inspired men and women across the world. She makes it clear that, though progress has been made throughout the years, the fight is not yet over. Her goals will only ever be achieved once one universal concept has been adopted in the hearts and minds of those around the world: that men and women are equal. To do this, gender differences must be set aside.

Gender equality has been a long, hard journey. It's a debate that has been going on since the Middle Ages. Perhaps young Emma Watson is the new Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Perhaps she represents an extension of the ideas of Betty Friedan. Whatever her role, with enough support, perhaps her efforts may start the new, and possibly the last, feminist movement.

If you're considering whether or not to show support for her campaign, consider her own inspiring self-reflection: ". . . If not me, who? And if not now, when?"


See the full speech here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-iFl4qhBsE


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    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 16 months ago from London England

      Quite right! Emma Watson displays remarkable leadership in her role as advocate of Women's concerns. Although Women have achieved many of the objectives inspired by the Women's Liberation movement of the 1970's the goal posts still need to close in a bit further. We are bound to be hearing a lot more of Emma Watson. Maybe she could do a Feminism movie.

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 16 months ago from London England

      Great deal of media coverage to be had on Ms Watson of late. Seems to be many of the daily mags not to mention the broadsheet supplements want to scoop what Emma is doing now. She is planning to concentrate her efforts in working at the United Nations given her past experience she is appropriately the right one for the job. Congratulations Emma Watson!

    • profile image

      Gadfly 18 months ago from Olde London Towne

      NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF WOMAN !

    • profile image

      Gadfly 18 months ago from Olde London Towne

      Ms Watson has recently given an exclusive interview in one of the newspaper supplements on gender, power sharing and relationships. Great she is getting some coverage.

      P.S. Limpet's comment of 5 weeks ago i think should read 'former prime minister of New Zealand Helen Clarke'.

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 19 months ago from London England

      Happy birthday, Ms Watson.

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 19 months ago from London England

      Looks as if Ms Watson is to be joined at the United Nations as the former Preier of New Zealand Helen Clarke has been selected as Secretary General of the U.N. general assembly. A 'feather in the cap' no doubt in furthering the cause of women.

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 22 months ago from London England

      It is so refreshing to see a new face of feminism in such a young and talented actress, activist and ambassador with a firm commitment to equality in all forms. When the Women's Movement came into prominence i was asked the definition of 'feminism' and my response was not well received. Now we have definitions for each wave of feminism with the most recent the formation of the Women's Equality Party with candidates standing for parliament. Males are eligible to join the W.E.P.

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 2 years ago from London England

      Error; in a previous post i stated Germaine Greer as alumni of Cambridge University. Not so! That should read Warwick University. Has been brought to my attention in no uncertain terms at a recent meeting of the Germaine Greer appreciation society which gathers monthly in London U.K. Professor Greer has yet to release a statement officially on the He/for/She campaign however the society will be doing something to advance the cause.

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 2 years ago from London England

      U.N. Ambassador for goodwill Emma Watson made front page of this mornings copy of The Times with a half page photogenic portrait of Ms Watson shown as an extremely mature woman.The caption read' Emma Watson to address World Economic conference. Full story on page 52.'

      On turning to the relevant page, no mention of the Ambassadress at all! The Lady is too good to be used as mere window dressing in the media.

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 2 years ago from London England

      I'd no idea Emma Watson had such a huge following since checking around the web sites. In terms of sociology Ms Watson appears to be what is much needed now for a clear direction into the future of humanity. To say that there were 'man hating' feminists is a probability, but i never ever felt threatened personally even when i was taken to task for my 'faux pas'. As for male suicides, well it is apparent but i theorise if you have the courage to commit suicide then you should have the courage not to. Back to Emma, i think the keynote in The new Feminist Movement is leadership which Emma Watson seems to abound in.

    • kwarrenbryant profile image
      Author

      Kelsey Warren-Bryant 2 years ago

      Ha! Yes, it was acknowledged a lot on social media sites, but I don't remember it being covered much by the news. Strange, because it really was a game changer

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 2 years ago from London England

      I wonder why we don't get any media coverage of Emma Watson over here. She sounds like a real trail blazer with a clear destiny. I guess the media moghals want us to know everything about Madonna or Lady Ga Ga!

    • kwarrenbryant profile image
      Author

      Kelsey Warren-Bryant 2 years ago

      Yes, there have been many great leaders supporting feminism. What I find interesting about this though is that, after Emma Watson's speech, there has been a much stronger conversation about feminism in both social media and the news. Though people like the ones you mentioned have made great advances in breaking down conventional views on feminism, perhaps to get the world on board, people needed a well-known public figure (a "celebrity") to come out and explain it in simple terms. I think my favorite touch was inviting men to join, as despite the confusing name, this is their fight just as much as it is women's.

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 2 years ago from London England

      Academian and social commentator Germaine Greer has been campaigning tirelessly on these very causes since the 1970s. Professor Greer who is alumni of Cambridge university where she gained a doctorate in literature. Ms Greer has studied fully the feminist heroines in the works of Shakespeare to find comparisons with the strong characters in women of today. Not to be forgotten on the topic is the Italian feminist Oriana Fallaci a partisan fighter in the closing stages of the second world war and war correspondent in Indo China. Ms Fallaci interviewed (and humiliated) some of the middle east's most tyranical heads of state. Acolades to both Germaine and Oriana.

    • kwarrenbryant profile image
      Author

      Kelsey Warren-Bryant 3 years ago

      Thank you for your insightful comment! I agree. Inequality stems from people viewing others as different rather than seeing what they have in common. Gender is no different. And it really is men's fight just as much as women's. There is so much prejudice against men about their role in parenthood. And as Emma Watson stated, suicide is high among men, likely because of the gender stereotype that men shouldn't express their feelings. This is a fight for both sides, and it's time men started getting involved in the argument.

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 3 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      Excellent hub, beautifully stated. This is the next evolution of feminism. Hopefully, humankind will evolve into a state when all genders will be valued and treated equally. Traits are traits irrespective of gender. Our present gender classifications are atavistic and outmoded. Men can be sensitive and still be considered masculine while women can be assertive without aspersions to her femininity.