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Emma Watson’s Call To Men About Feminism Will Make You Understand Why It Isn’t A Dirty Word

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By Dhruv Arora:

For a very long time, even after I started advocating for Gender Equality, I was afraid to call myself a feminist (as ironic as that sounds). It was a word that scared me, one that I personally connected to aggression. I suppose a part of the reason why it scared me so much was because I did not understand the consequences of being called a feminist; that I did not fully understand what it was that the movement was demanding. I did not want to be a part of a culture that called for shift of power from one gender to another, which is all that I had heard about feminism, growing up.

Things changed for me because I indulged in conversation. It took me some time to understand and comprehend what feminism was calling for, and how it wasn’t – not about shifting the power to women from men, but a call for an equal distribution of power that is currently only held by one privileged gender. The first time I was called privileged for being a man, I remember being deeply offended. It was very difficult for me, a cis-man born in a relatively comfortable middle class urban, mostly progressive family, to understand the idea of privilege. It seemed like an overburdening, highly complicated idea, that I was somehow a part of a culture that oppresses half of the people in the world, without actually having done anything. This brings me to the most powerful quote by Emma Watson from her speech, one that has stayed with me since I first saw it:

“My life is a sheer privilege because my parents did not love me less because I was born a daughter.”

This quote felt extremely alien to me, I find myself struggling to comprehend it. The reason was simple, it was difficult for me to understand the idea that the reason I was privileged was because I never actually had to think about it at all, that I never had to be thankful to my parents for not loving me less because of my gender or sex. It was a thought that never crossed my mind, something that I never really had to spend a second of my life worrying about.

It is just as important for men and all other genders to talk about feminism as it is for women, for it is because of patriarchy that men are not allowed to be expressive about issues that are often considered effeminate. This is the reason men today feel “burdened” and develop resentment towards the idea of feminism because they feel there are pressures on us men to “run the family”, pressures that are not always socially linked with women. The fact is that this stems from the same problem that feminism is fighting against, the idea that men and women need to be conditioned differently, that men run the house and must not cry whereas women should not have opinions and should “listen to” men.

I call myself a feminist today, and I am really happy that Emma Watson said everything she said. I can only wish that more people would hear her speech and question the notions that they were brought up with as well.

To know more about what I think about this story, follow me on Twitter @thedhruvarora.

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  1. Rahul G

    Well said. This needs to be emphasised and reiterated, especially in the current era of mysogyny. Feminism is not a dirty word.

  2. Babar

    Ms. Watson brings up the subject of making her choice with her body. In that case, men should have the right to make a choice with their eyes. Then she goes on and mentions how women should have the same respect as men. For starters, respect has not be earned – you can’t stand at a podium and demand respect. Secondly, if you are going to tell women to take their clothes off in public and degrade themselves to the level of a commercial product in the process, then don’t demand respect on a public platform. And when she talks about going “less far” after giving birth, I wonder with what sheer audacity she decides to degrade motherhood so casually. It is not surprising how easy it has become for women today to leave their infants with maids, babysitters, and in daycare centres.

    Where is choice when women are told that in order to be modern and progressive, they must dress in a certain way? This is a form of manipulation that takes away women’s choice so cunningly that women don’t even realize it. In the process, fashion industries are profiting by earning billions, while feminists are earning fame.

    As for equality itself, women always marry men richer than them, often more qualified than them, go shopping with their husband’s money, have their husbands pay at restaurants, have seats reserved for them everywhere, from office to politics, and ask men to leave their seats for them in the name of being gentlemen. When was the last time a woman left her seat for a man?

    At 2:54 she says, “feminism, by definition, is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.” In that case, I wonder why she did not talk about the biases that men face on a daily basis, about how courts give men stricter sentences for the same crimes that women commit, about how juries give verdicts against men in domestic disputes, about misandry in the media, about sexism against men, about how men are locked up in false cases of rape, dowry, and domestic abuse, about how their oppressors do not face punishment over false accusations, among a host of other things.

    1. Angel

      You forgot to talk about Canadian Statistics to prove how men are oppressed across the planet, since the first male amoeba swam in

    2. khushi

      Mr. Babar should really open his eyes…and take a look as to what’s happening in the world…denying it n criticizing gender equality just shows that u believe one section of the society should have power over the other…
      And if according to you its wrong for a woman to leave her child at the daycare…because she wants to work and have an identity of her own…then its wrong for a man also to not stay at home and look after the child…its sad that people don’t have the basic common sense to understand that…!!!!

    3. Babar

      If all women want to do is throw kids in day care centers, and leave them with maids and babysitters, why do women choose to have children in the first place? As for your argument, if men could really stay at home and look after the kids, women would wage a gender equality war stating how men can sit at home, watch TV all day and play with kids while women have to labour hard and sweat it out at work.

  3. Chetna

    This was a wonderful speech.
    *teary eyed*

  4. Captain Logic

    Couldn’t love Emma Watson any more. She kicked ass as Hermione, she kicks ass as Emma. <3

  5. Templetwins

    Most UN pawns don’t care about equality. When they use the term ‘equality’, they only mean womens issues. Of course they all do a lip service by saying even men are being affected by it, aka patriarchy affects men too, but what action do they take to help men? NONE.

    If both men and women have issues which affects them differently, then why a campaign by the name “heforshe” … why does it still sound so one-sided.

    Going to their campaign page.
    Now it’s time to unify our efforts. HeForShe is a solidarity movement for gender equality that brings together one half of humanity in support of the other of humanity, for the entirety of humanity.

    so not BOTH halves supporting each other? excuse me? ehm. that’s literally basic feminism all over again. Nothing really new. In fact, half of miss watson’s speech is ‘why does feminism have a reputation of man-hating’, which if she bothered to GENUINELY ask, she would know;

    The HeForShe Commitment: Gender equality is not only a women’s issue, it is a human rights issue that requires my participation. I commit to take action against all forms of violence and discrimination faced by women and girls.

    I’m sorry. but that just rubs me the wrong way. Why not pledge to stop violence entirely for every person, regardless of their gender? This is the same old shitty message, just revamped.

    About the whole Feminism- man hating stuff, when Ranjana kumari said men must stick to their provider roles and share even their ancestral property to their ex wives, it wasn’t patriarchy which was pushing men into the gender roles, it was feminism. When Kavitha Krishnan openly said there are no male rape victims in order to stop making it gender neutral for anti-rape bill, it wasn’t patriarchy which shoved male rape victims back to their closet, it was feminism. So I am tired when people quote dictionary meaning of feminism but their actions side with the same patriarchy they claim to fight against, just so women can be benefited at the expense of men.

    You know what Emma, If its not “He for She for He” then I cant be bothered.

  6. Babar

    Feminists have reiterated the same propaganda for years now, to have naive people succumb to their lies about liberation and emancipation. Women are so gullible that even if you tell them to smoke in the name of liberation and emancipation, they will follow suit – Google Torches of Freedom.

    If Ms. Watson is really concerned about women’s rights, then she should be raising her voice against mothers-in-law, who are the biggest perpetrators of violence against women, not to mention daughters-in-law, who poison their husbands minds against family members, and sisters-in-law, who have mastered the art of family politics. Of course, no feminist is going to highlight these issues because then their agenda to create a generation of man-haters will cease.

    All parents want rich boys for their daughters, and women themselves prefer men who are ‘well settled’, have no hesitation in accepting clothes, gifts and jewellery worth lacs at the time of marriage, and are ready to usurp half of a man’s property in case of a divorce, which is why women have no hesitation in filing false cases of dowry. It is all about greed. Women want a luxurious lifestyle which only a man can provide them. From driving their husband’s car and shopping with their husbands money to having husbands hire domestic help for cooking and cleaning and eating out at restaurants with their husbands money, a husband today is an ATM for women, and then they talk about equality.

    Women live luxuriously, courtesy of their husbands and then we have feminists talking about equality in marriages, to the point where a woman making a cup of coffee for her husband comes under the category of inequality. Is it any surprise that since the feminist movement, with its tall claims of emancipation and liberation, divorce rates have shot through the roof

  7. Babar

    Ms. Emma states that women are paid less for the same work done by men. First off, you are paid for your work according to your experience, academic credentials, and how well you do your job. It is different with different people. Secondly, it is not a question of a man and a woman working the same job not being paid the same, even two men or two women working the same job will not be paid the same. Two doctors, two engineers, two teachers, etc, will be paid differently. The vast majority of people work different jobs though, and yes, women are paid less, because women work less number of hours than men, take maternity leave, work easier jobs than men, and take courses in college which pay less, with humanities taking the lead.

  8. nitin

    One of two feminist I like. Second is that from fact feminism

  9. Saumya

    Emma, my respect and love for you knows no bounds. It is so great to see people in your position speaking up for things gender equality, etc. Amazing speech. And great article. It is so amazing to come across male allies/feminists and thank you for your website( You’re doing amazing work. Keep at it.

    1. Saumya

      *things like gender equality,etc.

  10. Saumya

    *things like gender equality,etc.

  11. Prakruti

    For long now there was a sense and in many cases rightly so, that even so-called feminists didn’t know what they were fighting for. Kudos to Emma Watson for clearing it, for women as much as men across the globe.

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