If you still think of Emma Watson as Harry Potter’s cute, clever pal Hermione Granger, then you’ve got to read this. Now a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador in addition to being an A-list actress, Emma is spearheading a new international campaign that aims to tackle gender equality around the world. Called HeForShe, this U.N.-sponsored initiative focuses on getting men involved in the fight for equal rights for women. To launch the campaign, Emma took the floor at the U.N. headquarters in New York on Saturday with guns blazing, explaining why feminism isn’t a dirty word, how men are also disadvantaged by a patriarchal society, and why both sexes have to step up to the plate to help advance women’s rights worldwide. Check out some of the most emotional points from her provocative speech, which earned raves from the U.N. audience:
1. The gender-equality movement is not anti-men: "I was appointed as Goodwill Ambassador for U.N. Women six months ago, and the more I've 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."
2. Many people misunderstand what feminism really is: "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. I started questioning gender-based assumptions a long time ago."
3. Expectations about how women should behave are made clear from a young age: "When I was eight, I was confused about being called 'bossy' because I wanted to direct the plays that we would put on for our parents. But the boys were not. When at 14, I started to be sexualized by certain elements of the media. When at 15, my girlfriends started dropping out of their beloved sports teams because they didn't want to appear 'muscle-y.' When at 18, my males friends were unable to express their feelings; I decided that I was a feminist.”
4. Men absolutely must get involved: "I want men to take up this mantle so their daughters, sisters, and mothers can be free from prejudice—but also so their sons have permission to be vulnerable and human, too, and in doing so, be a more true and complete version of themselves."
5. Everyone benefits from a more equal world: "Men, I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. … Gender equality is your issue, too. … I've seen young men suffering from mental illness, unable to ask for help, for fear it would make them less of a men—or less of a man. I've seen men made fragile and insecure by a distorted sense of what constitutes male success. Men don't have the benefits of equality, either."
6. Men suffer from gender stereotypes, too: "We don't want to talk about men being imprisoned by gender stereotypes, but I can see that they are. When they are free, things will change for women as a natural consequence. If men don't have to be aggressive, women won't be compelled to be submissive. If men don't need to control, women won't have to be controlled."
7. It's not enough to expect others to effect change: “We are struggling for a uniting word, but the good news is that we have a uniting movement. It is called HeForShe. I am inviting you to step forward, to be seen, and to ask yourself, 'If not me, who? If not now, when?' Thank you very, very much."