STORY BY GRACE ROGERS
Emma Watson launched a new United Nations campaign for gender equality on Sept. 20 called “HeForShe.”
“The more I spoke about feminism, the more I realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop,” Watson said.
The speech was widely applauded in the mainstream media, but not everything was perfect to some.
“There’s always a ‘but,’” said Professor Beth Younger. “It’s great, but it could always be better.”
Different people have different issues with Watson’s speech.
Maria Hanson, a senior at Drake University and a member of the women’s studies program, illustrated a few of the common criticisms.
“She might have missed a few things,” Hanson said. “The whole ‘HeForShe’ campaign definitely leaves out the idea that there’s other genders, it’s not just binary. It also kind of leaves out trans people.”
Samantha Brenner, a senior and president of Student Activists for Gender Equality (SAGE), echoed Hanson’s statement.
“Even the name of the campaign is a little exclusive -— you’ve excluded anyone that doesn’t identify as either a he or a she,” Brenner said. “Right off the bat, that was my biggest concern before I even looked at it.”
Watson’s speech has gone viral, getting over a million views on YouTube in the week it’s been available. News agencies covered the original speech and the ensuing backlash, but criticisms have gone largely unpublished.
“I think (the speech) was a lot of language that people want to hear,” Brenner said. “And maybe some people need to hear it in those terms. But, I do think we need a campaign that comes from the government that is inclusive, because no one will continue the conversation if you exclude people right away. When you call it HeForShe, it does just that.”
Watson’s movement alienates her from other popular actresses.
“I think it’s interesting that she chooses ‘Let’s get dudes involved,’” Younger said. “Because think of all of the celebrities who are like, ‘Oh I’m not a feminist, I don’t hate men.’ You know, who said that? Taylor Swift.”
Watson’s speech at the United Nations was meant to prevent anyone from making that assumption again. The speech focused on making a definition of feminism clear.
“For the record, feminism by definition is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities,” Watson said. “It is the theory of political, economic and social equality of the sexes.”
As a whole, most people agree that Watson’s speech was generally a good step in the feminist movement.
“In general, I appreciate her message, and I appreciate that she is talking about gender equality at all,” Hanson said, despite her criticisms.
“I think it’s very exciting when a young person who’s in the limelight supports feminism,” Younger said. “And one of the best things about it is that it draws public attention to feminism and gender issues, because we have so much backlash and negativity in the mainstream media about feminism. I think that most people — well, many people — are misinformed.”