Monthly Archives: October 2014

Feminism’s mixed feelings

The discussion of gender equality makes your head spin, doesn’t it?

It was weeks ago when I heard about Harry Potter actress and United Nations Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson’s speech on gender equality to the U.N., but only yesterday that I watched it on YouTube. I was told it was awesome, and after watching, I agreed it was. I watched it a second time. Then I made the mistake of readingĀ  comments posted below. I was hoping for validation of my thoughts — but after reading several unfavorable thoughts toward Watson’s speech, I started to hope for one, just one YouTube user who agreed with what she said. Anyone? Anyone at all?

It’s probably a feeling many feminists face at some point or another along the battle lines for gender equality — the hope that someone, anyone will understand what this is really all about. Because it’s not about the burning of bras or the refusal of traditional family values, and it really isn’t about man hating — or shouldn’t be. It’s about equal rights for ALL. Equal pay (for the same work), equal safety, equal opportunity.

Public domain, remixed by Poasterchild

Public domain, remixed by Poasterchild

Obviously, from other responses on Watson’s speech, many people do think she did a fantastic job expressing ideas that many of us either never thought before, ignored, weren’t sure how to express, or did express but failed to encourage into action.

Personally, I have long avoided identifying with the word “feminist” — for many of the reasons YouTube commenters also seem to believe. That doesn’t mean I don’t believe in equality. It also doesn’t mean YouTube commenters don’t believe in equality. Much of the resentment for or criticism of Watson’s speech isn’t so much directed at Watson or her words as it is the movement she represents, “He For She,” which, as many have pointed out, is a tad on the hypocritical side when it suggests that gender equality can happen only when men stand up and make it happen. If it really represented equality, as a Time writer wrote, it would be called “He and She for Us.”

I’m not saying anything new here.

What I seek to do is embellish on Watson’s speech, to back up her words more than back up the He For She movement, which, I’ll agree, pressures men to join feminists and become feminists and, sure, okay, hasn’t tried to find a more appropriate word than “feminist” to describe people who believe in gender equality.

But for the record, feminism, like democracy, isn’t supported by perfect people. We all can make it better and will make it better as we ourselves improve.

So instead of perpetuating arguments though point/counterpoint, I would rather sum up my ever-changing feelings on feminism with a question:

Would the movie Wedding Crashers still be funny if Vince Vaughn’s role and Isla Fisher’s role in that “midnight rape” scene were reversed? Discuss.

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