This past weekend, Emma Watson, who most of us know affectionately as Hermione Granger, gave an inspirational and impassioned speech on feminism and gender equality at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.
She may not have been wearing her Hogwarts robes, but her words certainly had a magical quality.
She highlighted the fact that feminism has too often been associated with negativity and anti-masculinity.
Watson desires to dispel this perception once and for all and wants men to feel welcome to join the conversation surrounding gender equality.
Fighting for women's rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop. 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. ...How can we affect change in the world when only half of it is invited or feel welcome to participate in the conversation? Men, I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation.
Ms. Watson, thank you for the invitation. I graciously accept, and I sincerely hope that other men will join me.
I am a man, and I choose to identify as a feminist. Like you, Ms. Watson, I believe that both men and women deserve equal rights and opportunities. I also agree that we need to reassess our perceptions of both femininity and masculinity.
Men should not be afraid to be vulnerable, nor should they feel that they must assume a certain position in society in order to fulfill some abstract notion of manhood.
Stay-at-home fathers should not be made to feel inadequate because their wives are the primary breadwinners in the household. Likewise, women should receive equal pay for equal work and feel safe when they walk out of their homes at night.
Gender equality is not only about ensuring that women are safe and receive equal opportunities, but it's also about ensuring that we eradicate the useless distinctions between the sexes.
Of course, there are qualities unique to both men and women, but no one should be made to feel inadequate because he or she does not embody what society dictates.
What we need is a revolution of consciousness.
We have shackled ourselves in predetermined gender roles and made ourselves less free in the process. It's time that both men and women join together in an unadulterated conversation surrounding these issues.
It's time that we admit there is a global problem surrounding gender inequality.
As Watson aptly stated,
No country in the world can yet say that they have achieved gender equality.
The global statistics surrounding violence against women are staggering, and this is not a problem unique to developing countries.
Indeed, nothing will ever change unless both men and women engage in a balanced conversation surrounding the inequality between the sexes.
Emma Watson was incredibly brave to take a conversation surrounding feminism and make it about the exclusion of men in the discussion.
The ball is now in our court -- we can choose to fight for a better world or to ignore this invitation and perpetuate the status quo.