Emma Watson's Empty Performance at the U.N. | Tessa Bowman | CWR blog
A sweet, unassuming delivery from the young actress cannot hide the unoriginal and problematic themes within her September 20th address
After social media exploded with re-posts of actress Emma Watson's speech on feminism at the United Nations on September 20th, some dissenters have since questioned the speech’s relevance, its observations about men, and its general coherence. Cathy Young, a contributor to Time and Reason magazines retorted in Time's most recent issue with an article entitled, “Sorry Emma Watson, but HeforShe is Rotten for Men”. Young takes issue withthe campaign which the U.N. asked Watson to launch.
HeforShe (www.heforshe.org) describes itself as a solidarity movement for gender equality, separating itself from other women’s movements by claiming its inclusion of men is unique. But Young questions whether this inclusion is meaningful, suggesting that it is not only patronizing, but that HeforShe is actually damaging to solidarity. She argues that the commission and campaign do not give enough attention to injustices committed against men and blatantly ignore the damage the feminist movement has historically done to men.
Watson's speech was out of place, as she apparenty recognized: “You might be thinking, 'Who is this Harry Potter girl, and what is she doing speaking at the UN?' And, it’s a really good question. I’ve been asking myself the same thing.” A sweet, unassuming delivery from a brave, polished young actress is not enough to hide the unoriginal and problematic themes for both women and men within the address. Since it was delivered as if these themes had never been discussed before, and since it is given so much credence by U.N. Officials, Youtube watchers, and pundits, it is worthwhile to examine it against long-standing discussions on the matter.
“A real conversation must let men talk not only about feminist-approved topics," Young demands. Bringing this theme to the table as if it were revolutionary, without referencing any historic male efforts, suggests that it has not yet been done, or that it has been done ineffectively until Emma Watson and the U.N. did so. Extending “a formal invitation,” to men to join the discussion is not only trite and a bit patronizing, it is also unnecessary.
Men don’t need an invitation. Let’s extend that much to both their intelligence and their history.
One man, for example, already presented the idea to the U.N. nearly a decade ago: