Like many feminists around the world, I’m still coming down from the high induced by Emma Watson’s speech at the UN. The newly-appointed UN Women Goodwill Ambassador spoke passionately about the need for gender equality, and the problems standing in its path.
Watson pinpointed the discomfort that is often associated with the feminist label and the stereotypes that cause people to distance themselves from it. While helping to launch the ‘HeForShe’ Campaign, which aims to recruit 100,000 men and boys in the fight for gender equality, Watson formally invited all men to feel welcome and needed as a feminist.
To me, her delivery was sensational. Watson covered all grounds and struck a chord with women everywhere. I even found myself nodding along and thinking, ‘that’s something I’ve said.’ It’s not that she said anything particularly new, or come up with a profound new way of phrasing things. In fact, I’ve heard the content of her speech many times before – still, I was captivated.Another voice for the cause
Watson wears her passion on the surface, imbibing her words with both ferocity and love. Zara McDonald at Mamamia wrote that the speech was anything but mind-blowing. She agrees with Watson and supports her ideals, but writes that ‘to say her words are powerfully new, mind-blowing, ground-breaking and revolutionary is to insult the women who came before this Hollywood starlet.’
In many ways this is true. Watson’s speech is not breaking into new territory or shedding light on unseen facts. But is that what something needs to be considered mind-blowing, or revolutionary?
The content of Watson’s speech has been recycled countless times by countless feminists. We’re not going to come up with new material. The very fact that she is echoing those who spoke before her exemplifies the drastic need for change. Still, her words were – to me – revolutionary.
For somebody like Emma Watson, a mass celebrity – idealized by men, women, girls and boys across the globe – to deliver this speech, in this time, to this audience, is ground-breaking. The audience of her speech is different to those who have spoken before, her fan-base is different, her society is different. The outcome will be different.
Unfortunately, there is no magic way to rally feminism. The only thing that can be done is to continue to educate the world about what it means, what it stands for and why it’s so necessary. One day we’ll break through, but until then, we need people like Emma Watson to stand up and remind the world that we’re not finished.
So, I just want to say thank-you, Emma Watson. Thanks for saying what’s been said a thousand times before, because, although it feels tedious, it’s the only thing we can do. Keep beating the old feminist drum. One day, someone will say the same thing and it will cause a revolution.
If you haven’t yet watched the UN speech, you really should.