At a UN conference in New York this past weekend, UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and actress, Emma Watson, gave an impassioned speech, launching the ‘He for She’ campaign, and formally inviting the men of the world to support women’s equality.
Pushing back against recent anti-feminist campaigns, such as Women Against Feminism, Watson vocalised her concern (and that of many feminists) that feminism is being widely misunderstood as a an anti-man movement, rather than a cause whose primary goal is to see women treated as the equals of men.
She says, “The more I have spoken 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. For the record, feminism, by definition, is ‘the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes’.”
Watson, popularly known for her role as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series of movies, demonstrated her intelligence, commitment and passion for feminism. She spoke bravely and clearly on behalf of women all over the world, proving she is more than just “that Harry Potter girl”.
Why not watch Emma’s speech?
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Immediately after making her speech Emma Watson began receiving a vicious and vile backlash from internet users on 4Chan and Twitter. These included a threat (presumably false) to release nude photos of the actress online, and attempts to get the hashtag #RIPEmmaWatson trending on Twitter, claiming that Watson was found dead in a hotel room.
Watson received some horrendous threats, which we prefer not to publicise because of their truly horrific nature, however, even some of the milder comments below which were made about her weren’t much better:
“It is real and going to happen this weekend. That feminist bitch Emma is going to show the world she is as much of a whore as any woman.”
“she makes stupid feminist speeches at UN, and now her nudes will be online, HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH”
History is littered with the stories of women who’ve dared to speak out against the unfair treatment of women, and who’ve received threats attempting to shame and intimidate them into silence.
A website called the Everyday Sexism Project encourages women all over the world to send in the examples of the sexism they experience in their daily lives. The project aims to expose the internalised discrimination, small and large, with which women are treated, in every country in the world. The website is startling and very upsetting. It contains thousands of stories from women who have been harassed and groped in public, and followed by men threatening rape, to being refused jobs in favour of males, and many more.
The creator of the Everyday Sexism Project, British woman Laura Bates, received death and rape threats, as well as threats to her fiancé and family. The threats were sent to Bates through email and Twitter, contained chilling details about the time and place she would be attacked, promising they would wait until she was alone.
We must thank our female predecessors for putting themselves through a lot of public scrutiny in the name of women’s rights. Thanks to them, women can work, vote, control their own reproduction (for the most part), and have so much more. But the fact that empowered women still experience negative and derogatory responses when they attempt call-out sexism or demand equal rights, further proves that feminism is still as relevant and necessary as ever. And we need all women and men to get behind it.
Tell us what you think? Why are women exposed to so much shaming and threatening when they speak-out on behalf of women’s rights? In what ways is the backlash women receive different to what men might experience for saying something that goes against the grain?