“A Solidarity Movement for Gender Equality” #HeforShe

HeforShe campaign logo

HeforShe campaign logo

Karly Kaufman, Features Editor

Many have heard Emma Watson’s gender inequality speech addressed to the United Nations. Most known as a credible actress, Watson has shifted her eyes from acting to becoming a diplomatic figure as a member in the UN. Though her words may shake, she has a clear message that people around the world need to hear.

Emma Watson’s HeforShe speech to the United Nations

Watson’s call to help was for men and boys to fight against gender inequality for women. The foundation she has associated herself with is called HeforShe. It is dedicated to making a worldwide change to stand against such issues. Her video went viral in the few hours after it was posted. Now attracting a lot of attention, HeforShe is connected to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Celebrities such as Tom Hiddleston, Russell Crowe, and Chris Colfer have also posted pictures of themselves openly supporting the campaign.

Tom Hiddleston, Chris Colfer, Eddie Redmayne supporting the HeforShe campaign
Tom Hiddleston, Chris Colfer, Eddie Redmayne supporting the HeforShe campaign

Unfortunately though, the words feminist or feminism has attracted less and less attention because some people view it with a negative connotation. “I have 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 stated in her speech. Being a feminist does not entitle one to hate men, but rather fight for women’s rights. Furthering her beliefs about gender equality she said,

“I started questioning gender-based assumptions when at 8 I was confused at being called “bossy,” because I wanted to direct the plays we would put on for our parents—but the boys were not. When at 14 I started being sexualized by certain elements of the press. When at 15 my girlfriends started dropping out of their sports teams because they didn’t want to appear “muscley.” When at 18 my male friends were unable to express their feelings. I decided I was a feminist.”

While feminism has received a lot of attention, both good and bad, the real definition is the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men. So no, a person does not have to be a female in order to be a feminist. This may be the biggest misconception associated with feminism, which also makes it the hardest for people to understand.

When at 18…I decided I was a feminist.

— Emma Watson

For generations, women have fought for their rights as a human being. In the United States, the fight for women’s suffrage began during the 19th century. The first meeting was held on July 19-20, 1848. Women fought for their right to an education, a life outside of the household, and equal opportunities for work. Two women’s rights groups had formed during this time and would later combine to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). On August 26, 1920, the 19th Amendment passed and allowed all women to vote, nearly a century of fighting for women’s rights. And unfortunately the fight isn’t over. Today, women still fight to have equal pay for equal work in the workforce, and are still battling for gender equality.

The image of gender inequality has been women fighting for women. But women are not alone. It’s not just women and girls, but men and boys who face gender inequality. Men have taken a stand in the HeforShe project. They, too, witness the problem and are taking action by informing people about the campaign and getting involved.

As high school students we also need to stand up for our rights. And this goes for the judgment on one another, whether it is how we dress, what we say, or what activities we are in. No longer are we expected to hide from who we are. No longer are we to “stick to the status quo” as High School Musical would put it. No longer will we stand against gender equality. Our generation is being asked to make a change for the better of all people. And I encourage our school to take the stand and learn more about what we can do to help.