By Selina Bonilla
Emma Watson stepped off the red carpet and onto the stage of the United Nations Headquarters last Saturday. The actress delivered an eloquent speech, expressing her stance on feminism and the launch of her new #HeForShe campaign for gender equality, which subsequently triggered a social media frenzy.
Watson said she created the #HeForShe campaign to encourage men to show their support of women and welcome them to work toward the gender equality, in an attempt unify the sexes and dissolve the idea that men and women are opposites.
“We don’t often talk about men being imprisoned by gender stereotypes but I can see that they are and that when they are free, things will change for women as a natural consequence,” Watson said in her U.N. address.
As a U.N. Women Global Goodwill Ambassador, Watson expressed her disappointment about the negative thoughts that accompany the word “feminist.” She acknowledged that more women are refusing to identify themselves as one because of its reputation.
“I have realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating … it is not the word that is important but the idea and the ambition behind it,” she added.
With the NFL Ray Rice incident that brought attention to domestic violence, and the White House’s recently launched #ItsOnUs campaign that addresses sexual assault on college campuses, women’s rights has been a hot topic on social media. Women and men alike used Twitter to comment on the Harry Potter star’s speech:
The 24-year-old has transformed into an icon and role model for some — and for more than just her big screen roles and style. Her achievements as a student at Brown (and Hogwarts) paired with her passion to speak up for what she believes in got more than HP fans to be #teamWatson.
“You might be thinking who is this Harry Potter girl? And what is she doing up on stage at the U.N. It’s a good question, and trust me I have been asking myself the same thing. I don’t know if I am qualified to be here. All I know is that I care about this problem. And I want to make it better,” she said.
But not everyone was so enchanted with the actress. Some had constructive criticism for her speech and did not agree with the her ideas; other weren’t swayed by Watson’s words.
Whatever the opinions may be, her speech has caused a stir. Anonymous users on 4chan, an image-based social media site, have threatened to leak alleged nudes of Emma Watson, according to CNN. 4chan has been the site of the many recently leaked nudes of numerous female stars, such as Jennifer Lawrence. These controversies have also contributed to the online discussion of feminism.
Backlash aside, Watson has not only received support from fellow tweeters and social media users, but from those that also share the spotlight. Many celebrities have shown their support for the #HeForShe campaign and have backed Watson on her mission.
“I’ve told myself firmly: If not me, who? If not now, when?” she said. “We are struggling for a uniting word, but the good news is we have a uniting movement. It is called #HeForShe. I am inviting you to step forward, to be seen, to speak up, To be the he for she. And to ask yourself: If not me, who? If not now, when?”