“Men, I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue too,” actress Emma Watson said as she launched the HeForShe global campaign at the UN Headquarters in New York over the weekend.
The campaign aims to mobilize men against gender inequalities.
She also spoke of how negative the words feminist and feminism have become. “Women are choosing not to identify as feminists. Apparently, I am among the ranks of women whose expressions are seen as too strong, ‘too aggressive,’ isolating and anti-men, unattractive, even. Why has the word become such an uncomfortable one?”
She spoke of her own experiences and luck that her parents and school never stopped or hindered her because she was a girl. Still, Watson calls herself one of the privileged ones.
The most important thing about this campaign is the involvement of men. The entire campaign is based around that and it is a cause close to Watson’s heart.
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“In 1997, Hillary Clinton made a famous speech in Beijing about women’s rights. Sadly, many of the things that she wanted to change are still true today. But what stood out for me the most was that less than 30 percent of the audience was male. 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. Gender equality is your issue too. Because to date, I’ve seen my father’s role as a parent being valued less by society despite my needing his presence, as a child, as much as my mother’s. I’ve seen young men suffering from mental illness, unable to ask for help, for fear it would make them look less 'macho' — or less of a man. In fact, in the U.K., suicide is the biggest killer of men, between 20 to 49, eclipsing road accidents, cancer and coronary heart disease. I’ve seen men made fragile and insecure by a distorted sense of what constitutes male success. Men don’t have the benefits of equality, either.
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“We don’t want to talk about men being imprisoned by gender stereotypes but I can see that they are. When they are free, things will change for women as a natural consequence. If men don’t have to be aggressive, women won’t be compelled to be submissive. If men don’t need to control, women won’t have to be controlled.
“It is time that we all see gender as a spectrum instead of two sets of opposing ideals. We should stop defining each other by what we are not and start defining ourselves by who we are. We can all be freer and this is what HeForShe is about. It’s about freedom. I want men to take up this mantle so their daughters, sisters and mothers can be free from prejudice but also so their sons have permission to be vulnerable and human, too and in doing so, be a more true and complete version of themselves.”
Her speech ended with a standing ovation, but she didn’t stop there. She is committed 100 percent to promote HeForShe and from the looks of it, it will make a difference.
(And if you really want to make my day take a picture of you signing up or send me a picture with why you support gender equality #heforshe)— Emma Watson (@EmWatson) September 22, 2014
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