Unless you are living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about Emma Waston’s speech at the United Nations. She introduced the HeForShe campaign as a Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women. HeForShe aims to shift the conversation from feminism and the negative connotation surrounding the topic to a conversation about gender equality, for both men and women.
Let me back up, Emma Watson is, in case you forgot, the actress who portrayed Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series. She wore the robes of the A+ Gryffindor student who was the brains of destroying the most powerful dark wizard of all time. In case you can’t tell, I am a huge Harry Potter fan. Like most of my generation, I grew up reading the books and counted the days until each new one was released. I watched every movie and cried over the death of the beloved house elf, Dobby.
But Harry Potter was more than a book and movie series to me. Hermione Granger was more than some curly headed nerd. When I was 10 years old, Hermione Granger was much more than a character in a book because I was Hermione. Sure, I’m not British, I didn’t get a letter to Hogwarts on my 11th birthday, and I’m not a witch (as far as you muggles need to know). But I was a curly headed, book loving, bossy, nerd of a little girl with only male friends. I was Hermione Granger.
As I read that sentence, I cringe now. How dare I let someone insult me by calling me bossy? I wasn’t bossy, I just wanted to be in charge, I wanted to be captain of my kickball team. I wasn’t a nerd, I was smart. But instead of being praised on my natural desire to lead and my intelligence, I was discouraged. “You can’t be President, that’s for boys.” “Only boys can be captains of a kickball team.” “This is a job for a boy, go play with your dolls.”
Luckily for me, my parents made something very clear to me. I could run faster than the boys on my soccer team, I was good at kickball, I could get a new book from the bookstore if I wanted to, and I could do anything I put my mind to. For those little moments, I say thank you to my mom and dad. Thank you for inadvertently making it aware to me that I deserved opportunities based on who I was not on my gender. Thanks for fighting constantly against the inequalities that society kept trying to force upon me.
You probably aren’t surprised by anything I’ve said, right? I’m this young woman who doesn’t know what she’s talking about. I’m a silly little feminist who thinks she’s better than a man. I hate to break it to you, but you’re wrong.
I know I’ll never make as much as my male counterparts, I know I’ll face discrimination in the workplace. But so will men.
Men will be forced to repress their emotions. They will be scrutinized for taking paternity leave. They will mold their relationship with their children around society’s expectation.
This is your issue too. This is about gender equality, not about man-hating.
I looked up to Hermione Granger. I envisioned myself casting spells, taking names, and punching Draco Malfoy in the face. I was sad that I couldn’t join her and the rest of Dumbledore’s Army at the Battle of Hogwarts.
But I can join Emma Watson. This is real life and I can change the conversation. I can make it okay for a guy to talk about his feelings and show his sensitive side. I can take a stand for equality.
Join the movement at http://www.heforshe.org and learn all about the partnership between men and women on ending gender inequalities.