“Feminism has become synonymous with man hating”: Emma Watson gives moving speech at UN

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Abi Jackson

Recently appointed as UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, Harry Potter star Emma Watson gave a moving speech on feminism at the UN headquarters in New York on Saturday.

As part of the launch of the He For She campaign, the actress called upon men to help end global gender inequality.

"Today we are launching a campaign called He For She. We need your help. We want to end gender inequality. And to do this we need everyone involved.

"We want to galvanise as many men and boys as possible to be advocates of change."

She went talk about how she came to call herself a feminist, and also seemed to hit back against the recent movement Women Against Feminism:

"When aged eight, I was accused of being bossy because I wanted to direct the plays that we would put on for our parents but the boys were not. When at 14 I started to be sexualise by certain elements of the media. When at 15 my girlfriends dropped out of the sports they loved because they didn’t want to appear muscly, when at 18 my male friends were unable to express themselves, I decided that I was a feminist."

However, the 24-year-old acknowledged that feminism has, unfortunately, become a by-word for ‘man-hater’:

“The more I spoke about feminism, the more I have realised that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man hating. If there is one thing I know for certain it is that this has to stop. "

While she recognised that she was one of the lucky women in the world who had been afforded many equal opportunities (although not all), Watson stated how sad she was that this still wasn’t the case in the rest of the world and that “there is not one country in the world where all women can expect to receive these rights. No country in the world can yet say that they have achieved gender equality”.

To achieve this, the actress called upon men and boys to help bring about gender equality and stop making women the sole promoters of women’s rights.

“We don’t often talk about men being imprisoned by gender stereotypes but I can see that they are and that when they are free, things will change for women as a natural consequence. If men don’t have to be aggressive in order to be accepted, women won’t feel compelled to be submissive. If men don’t have to control, women won’t feel controlled.”

During the speech, Watson gained whoops and applause for her words, and even joked about her Hermione days.

“You might be thinking ‘who is this Harry Potter girl and what is she doing speaking at the UN?’ and it’s a really good question, and I’ve been asking myself the same thing. All I know is that I care about this problem and I want to make it better.”

Watson, who graduated from Brown University this summer, went on to finish with a flourish and was met with a standing ovation:

“We are struggling for a uniting word but we do have a uniting movement, it’s called He For She. I’m asking you to step forward and ask yourself, ‘if not me, who? If not now, when?’”

Watch the whole of Emma’s speech below:

(Images: Getty, Rex Features)


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Abi Jackson

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