#HeforShe and Standing Up as a Feminist

Emma Watson, UN, #HeforShe, Gender equality

Emma Watson announcing the #HeforShe gender equality campaign

When Emma Watson got up in front of the UN council to announce the start of the #HeforShe campaign, her voice might have been a bit shaky, and she might have stumbled over her words once or twice, but her message was clear: gender equality is an issue, it does matter, and things will change.

I was suitably impressed by her speech – it expressed many of the views that I hold, and raised a call to arms that was not aggressive, exclusive or inflammatory. Rather it was inclusive, hopeful and charming. Much like my vision of what feminism means.

And what interested me was the response. Twitter was flooded with high-profile (and unknown) men and women expressing their support and their involvement. Of course, the trolls rumbled miserably in the background. The British newspaper, The Daily Mail (don’t make me utter that name again *shudders*), even managed to write a whole article about the speech, leading with – gasp – what she WAS WEARING (you can facepalm with me). But that wasn’t the story that took.

For almost the first time since a high profile actor has said the word FEMINISM with any kind of certainty, the response didn’t focus on the negativity – the trolls that spout misogynistic nonsense and hog the attention for all the wrong reasons – but the positivity. It feels like there is a real interest and support for #HeforShe, and something has clicked with the public.

It’s a slow burner, it will take a while for people to Get It in the grand scheme of Getting It, and then it will start to gain momentum. I can’t wait to see what comes next, how the campaign will take hold and evolve. The trolls will slope away back under their bridges and find something else to whinge about. Feminism won’t be a dirty word any more.

Maybe I’m too much of an optimist, but I think that this can happen, as long as #HeforShe delivers on its promises and brings gender equality to the mainstream. Half the battle of feminism for now is fighting for it to even be on the agenda, let alone the actual issue. Perhaps #HeforShe can address that balance.

I feel hopeful, positive, and am putting my name to the #HeforShe campaign (plans are afoot… I’ll be back next month with news!) I feel like the more often articulate, welcoming and honest feminists can stand up and make the announcement that they are a feminist and they will do something about it, the faster this will take hold and do the right things. The first step was a young actor standing up in front of the UN and telling them to do something. The next step is all the feminists – no matter gender, ethnicity, social status or sexual preference – standing up and telling the world to do something.

If you haven’t seen Emma Watson’s UN #HeforShe speech, you can watch it below:

And tune in to the hashtag on Twitter to follow the campaign and tweet your support.