[By Leana Karim]
What is feminism? According to the Oxford Dictionary, it is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the foundation of women’s rights”. However, many people sadly mistake feminism for “man hating”.
Feminism is getting more vital today. Women are not given a proper chance, even in today’s progressive, modern-thinking society, to voice out their opinions. Women are still given lower salaries than men for doing the same job requiring the same skills, for the same output. The top titles in some professions are still given to men in some societies. And these examples are just the tip of the iceberg.
The U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador, British actress Emma Watson, gave a heartfelt speech addressing feminism and gender equality at the U.N. headquarters in New York to launch the “HeForShe” campaign on 20 September. This campaign is a call not just to women to advocate their own rights, but to boys and men to champion the rights of the women in their lives and across the world. It was a powerful and poignant appeal – my favourite part has to be when she asserted, “Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong…It is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum not as two opposing sets of ideals.”
Here’s what some Taylorians had to say about Emma’s speech and the debate on feminism:
“Feminism is so important, as Emma said…it’s a vital concept that feeds equality and promotes growth in our society. Unfortunately, so many women and men today believe that it is a biased approach. Feminists are very real and come in all shapes and forms, and I only wish that the mass society would understand one extreme viewpoint does not define all.”
“She was everything that she talked about. Strong yet emotional. Firm yet sensitive. Bold yet humble. I was always on the fence about this as I didn’t want to look like a man hater as some people view it as such. However, if everyone behaves in line with what Emma believes, “HeForShe” will change the world.”
-Melissa Liz Samuel (Ex Taylorian)
“For centuries women have been submitting to men for various issues. Personally, I feel that feminism is about finding balance. Emma Watson has highlighted wonderfully that feminism is not man hating. If men are not given dominance, women don’t have to be submissive. Everyone should be aware that feminism is a battle for everyone. Hence, Emma could not have said it any better.”
“Her attempt was pretty well executed. Positive thoughts were mustered for feminism and she was speaking from her perspective and experience on the issue that she had encountered. Well, everyone is entitled to their opinions and claims.”
“I was not surprised that Emma Watson had decided to give such a speech. Perhaps it had something to do with her being clever and outspoken. That being said, I was glad that she put her fame to good use and made such a clear and straightforward speech. It was something that people needed to hear to make a change in the world.”