Gender inequality is an issue for everyone

“You might be thinking, ‘who is this Harry Potter woman and what is she doing speaking at the United Nations?’, and it’s a really good question.

Towards the end of her speech, Emma Watson, said this very quote. Which is very true; I wouldn’t doubt that many people had that first thought when they saw that she had made a speech at the United Nations conference Sept. 20, 2014. What does Emma Watson have to say that is so important that she is at the U.N.?

Earlier this summer, Watson was named Women Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations. This new title of hers has put her into their newest and as they say, the world’s first campaign of its kind called HeForShe. This is a feminism movement on a large scale to give women equal rights across the world.

However, they aren’t just calling for the aid of women to support themselves. HeForShe is formally inviting men to the cause as well.

“Men, I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue too,” said Watson.

She notes that feminism is too often synonymous with man-hating, which isn’t the case at all. Which could be the reason as to why not many men relate nor do they have a desire to support women’s rights. Feminism should be looked at with a more humanistic eye, so it can be seen that its goal is to raise awareness of a minority’s struggle for equality. Also, that it is a goal to have men and women as equals and not for women to suppress men under their newly gained power.

Watson even notes in her speech that gender inequality affects men as well. Men are given a gender stereotype to live by. Men must be in control of themselves and be able to show authority. It’s also common that men have to be aggressive, non-emotional, non-sensitive, and demeaning of women in order to have the status of a man. If more men rose to support the fight against gender inequalities, we could become more true to ourselves as well. We could be more open to our own thoughts and emotions as well as willing to share those ‘feminine’ qualities with others.

“What bothers me about her speech is that she doesn’t point out the biggest flaw in achieving gender equality. Women have it so much harder than men do and this project will not succeed if people assume that men feeling vulnerable is equivalent to women being sexualized on the daily,” says John Alcantara ,‘18, who has his own LGBT+ project.

Although, men are affected by inequalities too, it needs to be stressed that women are more greatly affected by the issue.

I did research on gender stereotypes during my senior year of high school, and I think that these norms should not be a reality. A person, male, female, gay, straight or transgender, should be able to simply express him or herself without any question to it.  In society and even while raising a child, certain characteristics are tagged to the sex of the child. If someone has a boy, they would more likely dress him in colors such as blue and green, not purple or pink because those are too ‘girly.’ They would also give them certain toys to play with; boys would get trucks and action figures while girls would get dolls and kitchen sets, most likely.

Even later in life, society still puts gender characteristics on people. Men are more likely to have short hair while women are accustomed to having long hair. Men are also stereotyped into playing sports while women are stereotyped into staying at home. Even how we refer to each other is stereotypical. Why can’t a man be called ‘beautiful’? It’s a word that describes someone as being aesthetically pleasing. Why is it just used to describe aesthetically pleasing women?

The subject of gender is very extensive as one can see. It’s something that needs to be addressed though in terms of inequality. As Watson states,”This has to stop!”

Most of the issues lay at the employment level, where women and men are not paid equally for doing the same job. Also, women aren’t given as many job opportunities and as much respect as a man would be. Morally, I would agree that that is wrong because, women are people just like men. We are no different than for our sexual physicality. Therefore, we should all be referred to as people and treated equally.

I am a man and I fully support gender equality in all of its lights. In employment, in characteristics, how a man or woman can act and how a man or a woman can be emotionally. A person should be allowed to be whomever they wish without being criticized. The HeForShe campaign is a great start, but there is a long way to go before it is a reality because of such strong stereotypes and gender influences. If you, the reader, have yet to watch her speech, I would encourage you to and to look at other people’s perspectives. It’s very easy to find on YouTube.