Emma Watson’s speech at the United Nations brought a lot of attention to feminism. The hashtag #HeForShe has drawn many men, celebrities and others together in support of women, feminism and gender equality.
The word “feminism” has not always been seen as a positive one, however. Some people associate the word feminism with women putting themselves above men or refusing to wear bras or shave their legs in the interest of equality. These feminists are sometimes thrown in the mix as “man-haters,” which Watson, a supporter of equal rights and a UN Women goodwill ambassador, addressed.
“The more I have spoken about feminism, the more I have realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating,” Watson said in the speech. “If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop. For the record, feminism, by definition, is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.”
Watson goes on to say how many women are actively choosing to not call themselves feminists because the word can have a negative connotation.
I am proud to say I believe in feminism. I hold very strongly to the belief that all people, of all sexes, races, genders and ages, should be held to the same level of respect and positive treatment. This is why I think women should receive equal pay for equal work.
In 2013, women received about 78 cents for every dollar earned by men, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Now, I am all for a man earning more money than a woman — if he deserves it. Many people use construction jobs as a good example, because biologically many women are born weaker than some men. However, if a man and a woman can both build a new building in a week, then they deserve to be paid the same amount.
The same goes for corporate positions. If a woman goes through college and graduate school and now holds a position as a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, then she deserves the same pay as a man who went through the same schooling to get there. But if a man holds the same position as a woman, but has more education or certifications, then he deserves to be paid more.
Watson spoke about ending gender inequality and how everyone needs to be involved to make a change, including the men and boys who are here with us.
One other thing I fully agree with Watson on is the fact that men need to see that feminism is their issue, too. Watson used some brilliant examples.
“I’ve seen my father’s role as a parent being valued less by society, despite my needing his presence as a child as much as my mother’s,” Watson said. “I’ve seen young men suffering from mental illness, unable to ask for help for fear it would make them less of a (man).”
We need to make it OK for men to have the same benefits as women and vice versa.
When my father died, family members hugged me and comforted me as I cried, but my brother either hid his tears or refused hugs when we came near him. My father, even on his death bed, did not cry because he did not want people to see it.
It is time for feminism to come to life more for men and women. Not as a topic to be covered in gender equality classes on campus, but in life and action.