Emma Watson delivered an inspiring speech over the weekend, calling upon men to support their “daughters, sisters and mothers” in the fight for gender equality.
The 24-year-old actress, who was recently appointed as a UN Goodwill Ambassador for Women, spoke at the United Nations headquarters in New York on Saturday.
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Emma was launching the HeForShe campaign – a solidarity movement for gender equality that “brings together one half of humanity in support of the other”.
“You might be thinking who is this Harry Potter girl?” said Emma. “And what is she doing up on stage at the UN. It’s a good question and trust me I have been asking myself the same thing. I don’t know if I am qualified to be here. All I know is that I care about this problem. And I want to make it better.”
The English rose revealed that she has been a feminist from a young age, when at eight she was called “bossy” for wanting to direct a play, while the boys around her were not.
She said she started questioning gender-based assumptions when “at 14 [she] started being sexualized by certain elements of the press” and “at 15 [her] girlfriends started dropping out of their sports teams because they didn’t want to appear muscly”.
Emma warned not to confuse feminism – “an unpopular word” – with “man-hating”.
“For the record, feminism by definition is: ‘The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes,’” she said.
“Apparently I am among the ranks of women whose expressions are seen as too strong, too aggressive, isolating, anti-men and, unattractive. Why is the word such an uncomfortable one?”
Emma called on everyone to get involved in the HeForShe campaign, and extended the invitation specifically to men.
“ I want men to take up this mantle. So their daughters, sisters and mothers can be free from prejudice but also so that their sons have permission to be vulnerable and human too – reclaim those parts of themselves they abandoned and in doing so be a more true and complete version of themselves.”
She added that she’d seen men “made fragile and insecure by a distorted sense of what constitutes male success” and that “men don’t have the benefits of equality either”.
Emma closed her speech by applauding those who believed in equality, and suggesting that they may be “one of those inadvertent feminists” she spoke of earlier.