It has just about been two weeks since the magnificent Emma Watson addressed the UN as a UN Women Ambassador and launched the HeForShe campaign (watch the speech HERE). During her speech Watson made some great points not only about feminism but also about gender equality. We should not fear the “F” word and there is no reason why in 2014 young women should fear being associated with the gender equality movement or being called a feminist. Watson highlights this fear of being a feminist in her speech:
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.’ 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.
Since Watson’s speech we had a hoax that was later proven to be trolls, backlash, support (click HERE to see some of the famous faces that are supporting HeForShe), etc etc. But none of these things have anything to do with highlighting or even discussing what the HeForShe campaign/movement is all about. That was until a brilliant 15-year-old boy, Ed Holtom, from Hertfordshire sent a Letter to The Editor to the UK publication, The Telegraph. Holtom, who attends a private all-boys school, could not believe the ignorance of several of his classmates after discussing Ms. Watson’s speech. The Telegraph reported that it took Holtom 20 minutes to write down his thoughts regarding the speech in a letter to the publication and imagined he was addressing his classmates. Below you will find Holtom’s letter (via The Telegraph):
We’re lucky to live in a western world where women can speak out against stereotypes. It’s a privilege. Gender equality and feminism is not about ‘man-hating’ or the idea of ‘female supremacy’. It is, by definition, the opposite.
The definition of feminism is, ‘a person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.’ It’s pretty simple really, and if you believe in those things, then you’re a feminist.
Feminism can also be interpreted as a woman owning her sexuality, in the same way men do, wearing clothes that make her feel good about herself, or that show off her body, not for the attention of men, without being called a slut and with freedom from the threat of rape, because she wants to.
Recently we’ve been hearing about what it means to be ‘masculine’ and what it means to be ‘feminine’. It means nothing, barring biological differences. By perceiving these two words as anything other than the description of a human’s genitalia, we perpetuate a stereotype which is nothing but harmful to all of us.
By using words such as ‘girly’ or ‘manly’ we inadvertently buy into gender stereotyping whether we like it or not. We live the gender stereotype without realising it, we have been born with it, we played with toys designed for our genders, we go to schools which are segregated, we play sports which other genders do not, and it takes some mindfulness for many people to even acknowledge its existence and the injustice it entails for both genders.
If we want equality, it will take more effort than paying women the same as men, or giving women equal opportunities to men.
If we really want equality we must all make an active decision to abandon phrases such as ‘what it means to be masculine’ and the like. If we really want equality we must try our best to ignore gender and stop competing with one another. We must stop comparing ourselves to each other, particularly other people of the same gender, because that leaves us with a feeling of insecurity and self doubt.
We must stop pressuring each other to fit with this stereotype which more often than not leaves us feeling repressed and unable to express ourselves. And most of all, if we really want equality, we need to stop caring. Stop caring about gender, stop caring about another person’s sexual preference, stop caring about how far someone fits in with the stereotype and stop caring, most of all, about how much we fit this stereotype, we must not let gender define us.
Ed Holtom, 15 years old
It is amazing to learn that the younger generation is becoming more progressive and believe in equality. Ed Holtom, you are an inspiration and never stop speaking your mind and lending your voice to movements you believe in.
For those of you still wondering, the HeForShe campaign is: “UN Women’s Solidarity Movement for Gender Equality bringing together one half of humanity in support of the other half of humanity, for the benefit of all.”
If you are a male and reading this post, first thank you, second, please visit HerForShe.org to pledge your support.
Sources: HelloGiggles.com The Telegraph