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If you’ve read or watched the news over the past week, you would have seen the inspiring ‘HeForShe’ speech given by Emma Watson on the difficult topic of gender equality. What you may not have seen, is the tirade of comments, abuse and threats the Harry Potter actress has received as a result. From threatening to reveal private photos of the star, to claiming her prowess is because of her looks alone, the comments range from strange to stupid, to disturbing. What these little nuggets fail to acknowledge is the real message of Emma’s speech and what it means for our generation. Behind the fame and the looks, is an intelligent young woman, attempting to have a voice. A voice that represents many of the people who seem to despise it so much.

These are the key messages that the haters really need to focus on taking away from Emma Watson’s speech:

 

‘This is the first campaign of its kind at the UN’

This needs to hit home. For all of our leaning in, the topics of feminism and gender equality are still only being discussed in the abstract. To date, many companies and bosses claim to be striving for gender equality but who’s holding them accountable? The hard facts show that men are still being paid more for doing exactly the same job as women. Just a few short months ago, hundreds of Nigerian girls were abducted for trying to have an education and not one has been rescued since. This shows just how far we still have to go, but bringing it to the attention of the audience at the UN is surely a good start.

 

‘At 18 my male friends were unable to express their feelings’

Feminism may be a word that’s distinctly female, but gender equality is something that affects both sexes. As Emma states, men are also expected to conform to certain social assumptions, ones that devalue their competence as fathers and husbands. In striving for gender equality we are not only levelling the playing field for women, but also for men. To ensure that men feel comfortable to make their own choices when it comes to work, fatherhood and lifestyle. Just as women, should be able to make their own, too.

 

‘Not all women have received the same rights that I have.’

The most shocking responses to Emma Watson’s speech, are the ones that ask how she, a person of privilege, could possibly understand what it’s like to be discriminated against. Anyone, regardless of their wealth, position or race, is entitled to stand up and fight for something they believe in. One of the points Emma makes quite clearly, is that she is one of the lucky ones. She was not forced to marry at 16 year olds, or forced, at gunpoint, out of an education. She recognises that while the UK is much more realistic about gender equality than some countries, for all of us, there is still a way to go. Unfortunately, money and fame do not shield you from sexism, discrimination or subjectivity. If anything, they probably make it worse. It’s important to note that the average woman is subject to gender discrimination from her family, friends and colleagues. A woman who is also a celebrity, receives it from the world.

 

‘If not me, who? If not now, when?’

Anyone who is brave enough to stand up and fight for something they believe in, deserves applause. But what many are missing, is that Emma Watson is giving our generation a voice. Too many of our decisions are made by people one or two generations removed, who may have little idea of what it’s like to try and get a job or an education as a 25 year old today. Our generation is ready to have a voice, on politics, welfare and anything else that may come up along the way. What Emma has achieved, is to show the world that we’re ready to take the stage.

 

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Image via CTVnews

 

Beth Gladstone

Beth is a Writer and Digital Marketer who founded The Full Agenda as a place to talk about the things that kept her and her friends up at night. Currently working as a Marketing consultant to various SMEs she is a big fan of the startup market and loves technology, apps and anything social media related. When not obsessively checking Google Analytics, she can be found reading, writing or relaxing with a glass of Prosecco.

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