NEW YORK — Portraying the sweet, smart, sophisticated and sometimes sassy Hermione Granger in the popular book turned movie series Harry Potter, Emma Watson closely resembles the strong female character she brought to life.
In a rebellion against fame, Watson enrolled at Brown University noting it was the school’s open curriculum that she really liked. During this time, she also finished up the Harry Potter series and pursued her film career in popular movies such as The Perks of Being a Wall Flower and Noah. Since graduating, however, Watson has taken on a new role: United Nations Goodwill Ambassador.
Announcing in July that she was taking part in U.N. Women to promote gender equality, Watson tweeted that she was excited to be working with the U.N. and later in a formal press release stated, “Women’s rights are something so inextricably linked with who I am, so deeply personal and rooted in my life…I still have so much to learn, but as I progress I hope to bring more of my individual knowledge, experience and awareness to this role.”
As a Goodwill Ambassador, Watson has brought much awareness to the cause, crashing the U.N. Women’s website for some time after she first tweeted her news. Since, Watson began promoting the HeforShe movement in late September with a now iconic speech and sent the Internet abuzz for weeks about the movement and her message.
Given at the U.N. Headquarters in New York, Watson spoke not only explaining the HeforShe movement, but on feminism as a whole. With a broad spectrum of what exactly people believe the feminist movement to be, Watson gave a simple definition: “’The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.’”
With that definition came the request for men to join the cause. Men do not have to fear being pegged as less masculine if asking for mental help, be controlling or aggressive, Watson said, adding, “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.”
Over the next couple of days, word of Watson’s speech spread like wild fire and per her request, men of all ages and walks of life joined the movement. Male celebrities enlisted in the cause, taking to social media in their support of Watson and U.N. Women, ranging from Harry Styles to Joseph Gordon-Levitt to Tom Hiddleston.
In concurrence with celebrities, men across the world spoke out in support of the HeForShe movement, in particular, a 15-year-old boy named Ed Holtom took to a paper, Sunday Telegraph, to voice his opinions, concerns and support of men today and the feminist movement.
“We must stop comparing ourselves to each other…because that leaves us with a feeling of insecurity and self-doubt. We must stop pressuring each other to fit with this stereotype, which more often than not leaves us feeling repressed and unable to express ourselves.”
Holtom did just what Watson asked of men; speak out, join the fight and view males and females as equals.
Watson closed her speech with an invitation. “I am inviting you to step forward, to be seen to speak up, to be the “he” for “she”. And ask yourself if not me, who? If not now, when?”
The question now becomes, will we all unite for gender equality? Because if not now, when?
– Kori Withers