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Violent Response To Emma Watson's Feminism Speech Proves How Much We Need Feminism

Violent Response To Emma Watson's Feminism Speech Proves How Much We Need Feminism

Violent Response To Emma Watson's Feminism Speech Proves How Much We Need Feminism

This is what bravery looks like.

In a moving and powerful speech to the UN, actress Emma Watson (of Harry Potter fame) urged world leaders and citizens to take part in a new movement called HeforShe which urges men to step up in the worldwide fight for women's equality. In the speech, Watson makes an impassioned plea to all men, saying:

"We don’t often 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 in order to be accepted, women won’t feel compelled to be submissive. If men don’t have to control, women won’t have to be controlled."

Watson and her speech were welcomed proudly and warmly by the gathered ambassadors and she has been praised in the media for her bold move to stand up for women everywhere. However, as with anything involving feminism, there is a dark, violent response that has already started to rear its ugly head.

Just hours after her speech went public, angry and bitter commenters took to the message boards on sites like 4Chan and Redditt (which I'm not linking to because fuck them), spewing their misogynist vitriol at the actress with comments like: ""If only her nudes got leaked and she had the load on her face. Her feminism kick would be over."

Although I would love to assume that the vast majority of these internet trolls are gross men sitting alone in their dark basements covered in bacon grease and hot sauce, the terrifying reality is that a lot of these commenters are probably working in your office, or ringing you up at the grocery store, or even holding some kind of political office or position of power. The fact that any sort of public stance for feminism by a woman is immediately met with horrifying threats of sexual and other violence speaks loudly to the fact that women like Watson and movements like this are more necessary than we even think.

In a speech delivered to Wellesley graduates in 1996, screenwriter Nora Ephron reminded the students gathered that whenever a woman in the public eye is attacked in this way that we must all "take it personally." She cautioned them, "Underneath almost all those attacks are the words: Get back, get back to where you once belonged."

I can't imagine how Emma must feel in the wake of her speech, flooded with both positivity and also virulent anger. I would be scared for my physical safety if I were her, but luckily these assholes on the Internet are usually satisfied with spitting their anonymous comments and then retreating back into their dank little dungeons. God forbid they would ever have to actually speak to the woman they insult and see her experience the attack, and then deal with her own response thrown back in their faces. So on that note, I have some messages to everyone out there.

To the men (hopefully there were no women, I don't even have words for that) who spewed hate at Emma on the message boards: You all are fucking cowards and I hope your overwhelming misogyny guarantees that you do not spread your genes or your ideas into the next generation. Also, learn to spell.

To the men of the world: I hope you understand that feminism will help you more than you know, that you, too, will feel free from gender norms and codes of behavior that can be just as oppressive as those that us women have to adhere to. Imagine being able to be yourself always and not have to worry if every move you make, every thought you have, and every feeling you express, is "manly" enough. Step up. Help your daughters and mothers and sisters and friends. You know it's the right thing to do.

To the women of the world: Don't be afraid to call yourself a feminist. Do not treat it as a dirty word or something to be ashamed of. Understand that it means equality, not an amazonian-style takeover of the world, and that all feminists want is for women to have a fair shot at life, love, careers, children, family, and goals--on their own terms, and in adherence with what they feel is most comfortable for them.

I will take Ephron's advice one step further when I ask the men out there to also "take it personally." This attack is an attack on some of the people who matter most to you. It's time to step up and work hard to end gender inequality once and for all.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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Katie Boyden