Actress Emma Watson, known as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter Series, this week took on a new role as a Woman Good Will Ambassador for the United Nation’s new campaign called the HeForShe campaign. In her speech, Watson appealed to men to speak out over gender inequality.
Watson has received several criticisms in relation to this speech.
The first criticism is that Watson suggests men haven’t been formally invited to join the gender equality movement and that has ultimately hindered their participation. Which isn’t true, women have been trying to get men involved in ended the oppression of women for a very long time now.
The second criticism, Watson is telling men that they should participate because ultimately gender inequality hurts them too. In some respects it does, but within gender inequality women are the oppressed, they are at the center of the oppression–the ones getting degraded on a daily basis.
The third criticism, Watson fails to realize that gender inequality benefits men and this is a huge reason why they aren’t participating in the gender equality movement. The evils of inequality lead to women earning less than their male co-workers. White american women earn 78% of what their white male counterparts earn. Latina women earn 89% of what their Latino male counterparts earn and only 53% of what their male counterparts earn. This is just one of the benefits of gender inequality. Gender inequity manifests in our society and around the world.
The fourth criticism, Watson fails to tell men explicitly how to participate. If men become allies for women in the fight against gender inequality, what would that look like? Not just talking, acting. It could mean attending a Take Back the Night event on your college campus to reclaim areas where women have been sexually assaulted. It could be attending a bystander intervention training, or becoming an advocate at the rape crisis center, or taking fliers door to door to inform local residents about health resources at Planned Parenthood. Or perhaps wearing a t-shirt that proudly states, This is what a real feminist looks like, and mean it. It could potentially just mean participating in a dialogue and really listening.
I could continue with several more criticisms, but ultimately I believe that Emma Watson’s speech has led to some very healthy dialogue about what mens roles should be. I encourage you to become a part of the dialogue. Should the name of the campaign be changed to SheForHe? SheAndHe?
Read more at