"Ugh Anne!," you are probably asking. "Are you going to talk about FEMINISM again?"
Well, I always want to be talking about feminsim, so yes. I love feminism. Call me old-fashioned but I really, really like the idea of gender equality. It's nuts! I know. (Men and women as equal beings? Madness!) But look. Feminism and I are tight, I have its back, so yes, I am going to bring it to the party.
That party, BTW, took place at the UN this weekend. And while you or I may not have been physically present, Emma Watson sure was, and she delivered one hell of a speech about gender equality. It's 13 minutes long, so watch it here:
WELL that basically summed up everything we've been trying to say for the last HUNDRED OR SO YEARS. Let's look at some of the best parts:
"The more I have spoken about feminism the more I have realized that fighting for women's rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there's one thing I know for certain, this has got to stop."
Bless. Yep! Correct. As I know we've all said before, since feminism is defined as equal opportunities and rights between men and women, there really isn't much left for it to be interpreted as "and we hate all men, too." I mean, hating men because they were men, would be like men hating women for being women. And we all know how damaging that's become, so …
. . . I decided I was a feminist and this seemed uncomplicated to me. But my recent research has shown me that feminism has become an unpopular word. Apparently, I am among the ranks of women whose expressions are seen as too strong, too aggressive, isolating, anti-men, and unattractive.
Listen, Emma Watson said it better than anybody, so I'm just going to follow up with one of my favourite Amy Poehler quotes, which applies to Watson's earlier sentiments that boys felt threatened by her "bossiness": "To me, bossy is not a perjorative word at all. It means somebody's passionate, engaged, ambitious, and doesn't mind leading." BOOM.
I think it is right as a woman I am paid the same as my male counterparts. I think it is right that I should be able to make decisions about my own body. I think it is right that women be involved on my behalf in the policies and decision-making of my country. I think it is right that socially I am afforded the same respect as men. But sadly I can say that there is no one country in the world where women can expect to receive these rights. No one country in the world can say they have achieved gender equality.
WELP. Considering 100% of us reading this have been on the receiving end of sexism at some point, I think we can all go right ahead and confirm that she's right.
In 1997, Hillary Clinton made a famous speech in Beijing about women's rights. Sadly, many of the things she wanted to change are still a reality today. But what stood out for me the most was that only 30% of her audience were 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.
(And that is when our eyes all filled up with tears because FINALLY SOMEBODY SAID IT WHEN A ROOM FULL OF THE MOST POWERFUL MEN WERE FORCED TO LISTEN.)
We don't often talk about men being imprisoned by gender stereotypes but I can see that they are and that when they are free, things will change for women as a natural consequence. If men don't have to be aggressive in order to be accepted, women won't feel compelled to be submissive. If men don't have to control, women won't have to be controlled. Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to feel strong. It is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum, not as two opposing sets of ideals.
Perfect. This is perfect. Like, it's all perfect. But this part is really, very, especially so.
I want men to take up this mantle. So their daughters, sisters, and mothers can be free from prejudice but also so that their sons have permission to be vulnerable and human too — reclaim those parts of themselves they abandoned and in doing so be a more true and complete version of themselves.
(We're all crying, right? I'm just making sure.)
We are struggling for a uniting word, but the good news is we have a uniting movement. It is called HeForShe. I am inviting you to step forward, to be seen and to speak up, to be the he for she. And to ask yourself if not me, who, if not now, when.
Alright, now go post her speech everywhere and use it as fuel when you feel like it's all just too daunting. It is, but you can handle it. I mean, for fuck's sake: we've got some of the most inspiring and powerful women on our side. (And men, too, if they've been listening.)