Saturday, October 4, 2014

HeforShe

In the off chance that you've spent this last week under a rock: Emma Watson, UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, made an amazing and thought-provoking speech regarding a new campaign for gender equality.

"I decided that I was a feminist, and this seemed uncomplicated to me. But my recent research has shown that feminism has become an unpopular word. Women are choosing not to identify as feminists. Apparently, I am among the ranks of women who's expressions are seen as too strong, too aggressive, isolating, and anti-men, unattractive even. Why has the word become such an unpopular one?"

For the longest time, before I moved into my university, I was under the same belief that Watson condemns in her speech.  I had unknowingly drawn the association between feminism and what Watson dubs as "man-hating".  I was afraid to associate myself with feminism.  It wasn't until I entered my college and introduced myself to the greater academic community that I learned about the ignorance of my own past association.  Feminism is, at the most basic level, supporting the belief that women have a right for political, social, and economic equality to men.

This is uncomplicated.

This is straightforward.

And much like my decision to be a feminist, this is simple.

Even simpler is the active commitment to change our language, as language is the first and foremost hurdle to any issue.  We need to actively focus on reducing the stigma associated with the word "feminism", as it is one of the greatest adversaries to progress.  We need to promote both equality and individuality.  We need to not be afraid to consider ourselves as feminists.

Now I am still nervous to post this entry, as though my personal thoughts, I still feel uneducated in the proper diction and lacking in experience talking about the present gender inequality.  This is something I intend to continue to work and develop on my own, to listen to opinions with an open mind and find my own voice.

Who knows? A year from now I might look back on my own writing with a completely different viewpoint, but that's the beauty of documenting the process.

"Both men and women should feel free to be strong. 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."

I believe that Watson draws attention to important points in her speech.  Gender is too often perceived  in black and white.  However, as she points out, we cannot limit us to this binary measure.  As a society we need to view gender on a spectrum that is not limited in the extremes to a single sex.  As people we need to understand the importance of gender equality, and how this is not limited to either sex.

Given that a week or so has passed since she made her speech, people have clearly stepped forward with criticisms of her delivery.  Personally, while I find that there are base to these claims, I think that her speech has at least drawn attention to the issue at hand (though some may argue not in the light it deserves). The matter of the fact is that she has drawn worldwide attention to her cause, which simultaneously brings attention to the points made in any criticisms it may have.  Inevitably her speech has brought more people in to the conversation of gender equality, and encourages individual self-motivated education on the topic.





Thoughts?

xoxo,
Chelsea
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