Why Emma Watson's Status Is What It Took To Break Down The Definition Of Feminism

by Chris James

"Feminism is not man-hating," said actress Emma Watson at the United Nations this past Saturday, September 20. Watson, the newly appointed UN Women Global Goodwill Ambassador, formerly invited men to join the movement in her speech.

I will admit, I am one of the many people who supported the idea of feminism, but saw undercurrents of such "man-hating" or more aggressive, radical thinking.

In a way, I thought the movement was limited to women. It makes me seem very dumb, but Emma Watson's speech at the United Nations on the subject actually changed my mind and made me want to support the cause.

The sole purpose of this speech was to reach across the aisle. With the HeForShe movement, feminism is positioning gender equality as a cause that equally impacts and helps men.

As Watson described at the United Nations, men are imprisoned by this gender inequality in different but equally damaging ways as women:

Men, I would like to give this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue, too. Because to date, 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. In fact, in the UK, suicide is the biggest killer of men between 20 to 49, eclipsing road accidents, cancer and heart disease. I’ve seen men fragile and insecure by what constitutes male success. Men don’t have the benefits of equality, either.

This is what struck me most in the speech. Finally, someone has vocalized how gender equality is a cause from which both genders suffer.

As a man who pursued the arts in high school, had a writing degree along with a business degree, watches more than enough romantic comedies and harbors an undying love for Nicole Kidman, I have seen, time and time again, how people judge on the basis of traditional masculinity.

If we aren't watching football or throwing punches, traditional society thinks there is something wrong with us.

I've always been disgusted by the gender divide women have experienced and have always supported equal rights for women. I never realized how equal rights for women is intrinsically linked to broadening the definition for what makes a man.

This gender divide isn't shrinking, which was made painfully clear a few weeks ago when a gaggle of actresses, including Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton, had their nude photos hacked and uploaded online. Not only did this create a dialogue on invasion of privacy, but it was turned into a punchline, jokingly titled by men as "The Fappening."

Because of the speech, Watson has even become the target of idle threats, where hackers are counting down when they will release nude pictures of the actress.

Threats like these are completely one-sided and a great example of how we live in a world that is hostile towards women. We are categorized between oppressive alpha males and victimized women. This is why Watson's speech came at such an important time and why it is time for men to take action on behalf of feminism.

Some may wonder why it is important that Hermione Granger is speaking out on gender equality. We have so many intelligent, educated experts on the subject; why does a child star have to represent feminism at the United Nations?

Let's not forget that Watson is a graduate of Brown University. Also, why judge the spokesperson more than the speech? Emma Watson is an actress best known for being a magical child. Even more than that, she showed that she was willing to stick her neck out for a cause in which she believed and spoke eloquently on the topic.

There is a lot of vitriol heaped on celebrities in this Internet Age. Having people like Kim Kardashian, famous due to a sex tape or other lewd conduct, doesn't help the matter.

However, being famous means you have the ear of the world. Emma Watson didn't cure cancer; she made a series of children's films. Yet, when she had the ear of the world, she spoke for equality in brilliant fashion.

She was right; only time will tell if HeForShe really does change the face of gender inequality, but Emma Watson's speech has at least gained one large supporter: me.

For a full text of her speech, read here. A video of the full speech can be seen here.

Photo Credit: WENN