Teenage Boy Writes Touching Letter About Emma Watson’s Gender Equality Speech
Emma Watson’s speech on gender equality at the UN may have sparked a seriously bizarre marketing stunt/prank on 4Chan/stupid hoax, but it also educated countless young people and did a massive amount of good. One of those young people, 15-year-old Ed Holtom, loved her speech so much that he wrote into UK’s Telegraph to express his support. In his letter, he worries that some of the other boys at his school have a more hostile view towards feminism, and he makes a call to action for other young people to reject gender stereotypes. Holtom told BuzzFeed, “I was inspired by Emma Watson’s speech, but also by Beyoncé’s philosophy of female empowerment. I didn’t expect anyone to take an interest in it, but I’m so glad people agree with me!” Is this kid awesome or what? The letter that appears in the Telegraph was shortened a bit, but he provided BuzzFeed with the full version, which you can read after the jump!
I recently had a religious studies lesson where we talked about gender and the role it plays in modern society, having watched Emma Watson’s speech about gender equality the night before and agreed with everything she said, I was disappointed by how ignorant some of the other boys in my class were (I attend an independent, all boys school in Hertfordshire). I felt compelled to write down my views of gender equality, although I’m not sure how well they would be received by people at my school, I wanted to share it somehow, so here it is.
“If We Really Want Equality”
We’re lucky to live in a western world where women can speak out against stereotypes. It’s a privilege. Gender equality and feminism is not about “man-hating” or the idea of “female supremacy”. It is, by definition, the opposite. The definition of feminism is, “a person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.” It’s pretty simple really, and if you believe in those things, then you’re a feminist. Feminism can also be interpreted as a woman owning her sexuality, in the same way men do, wearing clothes that make her feel good about herself, or that show off her body, not for the attention of men, without being called a slut and with freedom from the threat of rape, because she wants to.
Recently we’ve been hearing about what it means to be “masculine” and what it means to be “feminine”. It means nothing, barring biological differences. By perceiving these two words as anything other than the description of a human’s genitalia, we perpetuate a stereotype which is nothing but harmful to all of us. By using words such as “girly” or “manly” we inadvertently buy into gender stereotyping whether we like it or not.
We live the gender stereotype without realising it, we have been born with it, we played with toys designed for our genders, we go to schools which are segregated, we play sports which other genders do not, and it takes some mindfulness for many people to even acknowledge its existence and the injustice it entails for both genders. If we want equality, it will take more effort than paying women the same as men, or giving women equal opportunities to men.
If we really want equality we must all make an active decision to abandon phrases such as “what it means to be masculine” and the like. If we really want equality we must try our best to ignore gender and stop competing with one another. We must stop comparing ourselves to each other, particularly other people of the same gender, because that leaves us with a feeling of insecurity and self doubt.
We must stop pressuring each other to fit with this stereotype which more often than not leaves us feeling repressed and unable to express ourselves. And most of all, if we really want equality, we need to stop caring. Stop caring about gender, stop caring about another person’s sexual preference, stop caring about how far someone fits in with the stereotype and stop caring, most of all, about how much we fit this stereotype, we must not let gender define us.
[Image via AKM-GSI]