United Nations ambassador and Brown University graduate Emma Watson (known by many of us as Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter films) lit up news feeds recently with her Sept. 20 speech promoting the launch of her HeForShe campaign. The campaign invites men to voice their support for feminism and contribute to the eradication of violence against females and the dismissal of oppressive gender roles.
HeForShe has already received a huge wave of support, with an array of men worldwide making pledges on the campaign’s website.
The arrival of HeForShe brings about the dreaded question I face at least once a semester as a Women’s and Gender Studies major: can men be feminists? My gut reaction is always yes, but there is always the debate that men will never fully be able to understand what women experience in a lifetime.
Watson addressed the misconception when she explained how men are also affected by gender stereotypes. She said men are often valued as lesser parents and suffer from personal struggle when they feel they are not meeting the ideals of how a man should act. Furthermore, why would anyone reject that application when feminism is just as vital as ever? If you are willing to support every human being, then welcome aboard, my friend! That’s the beauty of feminism; it is not just for one group, and anyone can become a part of it to make life better for everyone.
Ohio University is infallibly on track to promote gender equality on campus, and the action has continued in a big way over the past few weeks. The Ohio University Women’s Center hosts an event called “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” which calls upon male volunteers to wear a pair of women’s shoes and walk a mile on campus “to raise awareness about the role men play in preventing sexual assault.” This year’s walk will take place on Saturday, Nov. 8 at 12 p.m.
Emma Watson has been one of my favorite people in the universe for more than a decade, and I could not be more thrilled that she is using her visibility in the media to educate people and bring about some much-needed change. Watson’s speech has already proven to be a great step forward for feminism. Even under the cloud of online threats and harassment aimed at Watson for her activism, the campaign has grown stronger by the day. Watson has accomplished her goal of educating the world through her position in the United Nations and raise awareness of the importance of the movement for both men and women around the world.
As Watson said during her speech, “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.”