The state of votes
When a celebrity gives her voice
Emma Watson's speech is not enough
Martyna STYSLO | 2014. September 28. 18:00
The face of the action,the British actress Emma Watson, gave an opening speech which caught the attention of both journalists and the audience. In case you haven’t heard it yet, I’ll try to briefly explain what was so special about it.
I am convinced that the form of launching the action was very proper: the official speach held in the New York office was for me a much more appropriate tool than some crazy, not-so-funny vine, stupid meme or annoying Facebook post, for something as serious as the UN should be as an organization and serious as the problem actually is. And when I say "the problem" I'm not referring to the lack of promotion of feminism as such. The real problem is letting discrimination exist (still!) in our so-called "modern society”.
Some might say the speech was too pathetic, but the truth is it was rather emotional. And it was supposed to be! Any kind or form of discrimination affects our feelings. Being excluded or abandoned in the 21st century, the era in which a large network is a „must-have”, can be more painful as it has ever been. And it is good to admit that all of us experienced it.
So why I am really in love with her speech? Because it was very universal. First, because by sharing a story based on the actress’s own experience is still very close to our own experiences and it is therefore easy to identify with it. Second, by pointing out that the level at which the discussion in held should be adjusted to each region, all facing a different scale of that problem. Watson highlights that she is grateful for living in a country where women don’t have to fight for certain rights like an equal salary, an access to education or politics, which have already been recognized some time ago. Third, thanks to a message addressed to men, she in fact has delivered a special invitation. I found it very touching, because of the promise she gave: a vision of a world where everyone could find their own way to behave in a society, where there wouldn’t be any need to fit into the role of the more or less powerful.
Emma Watson is in fact a very good campaign face for this action. She represents a young generation of girls who are not afraid of their beliefs. Apart from that, she has a quite impressing educational background which proves that the „face” can also be a real part of the program - her speech has shown that Watson deeply understand the main goals of action.
Of course I would have preferred to have both genders represented at the opening ceremony. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if that was due to the fact that it wasn’t easy to find anyone else. Being a part of popculture should in fact help to reach out to a wider group of people. Politicians often are considered to be boring, feminist movement leaders to be out of space, and random people, well simply not worth our time.
Despite the fame, it is still very hard to get to the audience. Just because Watson has a label of a „star”, the news about launching 'He for She' was reported by the majority of tabloids in the „celebrities & gossips” section. Therefore, there is a string possibility that the potential of the campaign’s promotion actions won’t be maximised. Why has the media not recognised this event to be anything more than a simple celebrity event?
Maybe because people are just not ready to hear about the idea of modern feminism in 21st century, as described by Emma Watson? Wouldn't that then be the best arguments in favour of spreading the word?
Hristina Tankovska | 2015. April 11. 13:50
Emma Watson sharing her opinions and thoughts on feminism was an important event. Since I am a feminist myself, I do agree that feminism should become more popular. In Watson’s speech, however, I did not hear some major points, related to gender inequality.
The truth is, stereotypes still rule the world we so vehemently claim to be “modern” .
Many people misinterpret the global problem of gender inequality. As Emma Watson said in her speech, feminists are not man-haters. Feminists are simply people, striving for equality. Not only does gender inequality still exist, but it is applied in various shocking ways. From domestic violence to female genital mutilation women are not only discriminated, but harassed all over the world.
It all starts with certain societies’ persuasions that men surpass women, which is simply wrong. For example, as the Somali feminist, model, author and social activist Waris Dirie points out, “Women are the backbone of Africa; they do most of the work. Yet women are powerless to make decisions”.
It would have been way more effective if Watson’s speech had been concentrated on these
aspects of the problem.
Feminism should under no circumstances be considered a bad word- I agree. And the stereotype of a feminist as a woman, unable to find a husband for some reason or another, should be eradicated. However, I find the white, attractive woman talking about discrimination and inequality unconvincing. Emma Watson has been named “feminist of the year” for only holding one speech. The issues she talks about are only the surface of a way more complicated and huge problem. While she mentions women being paid less than men and girls being kicked out of sports teams, somewhere in the world girls are being raped, circumcised, beaten and so on. The face of a campaign should be someone who has experienced this problem herself. In our society, however, people are still lead by what is massively popular and commercial, while those who are able to reveal the problem in its deepest levels, are overlooked. Emma Watson’s speech is just a step towards the real issue, but not the grandiose event that the media has turned it into. The true problem is not the cursory injustice Watson mentions. Yes, women being sexualized is unfair. Yes, men feeling unable to express their emotions is stupid. But feminism is something more than this. The way Emma Watson presents it is shallow and far from thorough.
Not that I do not support He For She. I do. But the speech that has circulated all over the media is not meaningful enough and does not present the feminist problem the way it should be presented. As for the action needed- Watson’s image is a good start, but of course, far from enough. Women need to hear from a woman that has gone through gender inequality face to face instead of from one who has only heard about it.
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