As a member of the Harry Potter generation, it made me more emotional than I care to admit to see
Hermione Granger Emma Watson call for the world to unite to defeat Voldemort gender inequality.
Watson, who is the newest U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador, spoke at the UN this weekend to launch the “HeForShe” campaign,” which aims to mobilize men and boys as advocates for ending gender inequality. She extended “formal invitation” to men to make gender equality their issue too.
We don’t often talk about men being imprisoned by gender stereotypes but I can see that 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 be strong. It is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum, instead of as two sets of opposing ideals.
If we stop defining each other by what we are not and start defining ourselves by what 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 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.
The name of the campaign, HeForShe, made me worried that it’d take the all-too-familiar tactic of enlisting men’s support in the fight for gender equality by appealing to a sense of paternalistic protectionism, calling on them to imagine all women as their daughters/sisters/mothers/wives in order to give a damn. So I’m pleased to see Watson frame it instead as movement for freedom–the freedom to be a full human being–for everyone.
Read the full text of the speech here.
Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing.