Emma Watson recently gave a speech at the UN headquarters in New York City. She talked about the #HeForShe campaign and how gender discrimination is a problem for both men and women. The video went viral on social media, but unfortunately this also attracted many anti-feminist remarks.
First and foremost, it is ridiculous how the most basic concept of feminism; gender equality, which is what every feminist is aiming for, can still in this day and age be deemed as inspiring and revolutionary. This is the very reason why feminism is still important.
Emma Watson is definitely a national treasure who is adored by all. Her posters are on many students’ walls, and Hermione Granger is synonymous with our childhood. Just ask DMU’s very own Harry Potter Society. So what made her very reasonable and formal speech cause such a stir?
It can be argued that there is still a mind-set that that women should not be able to progress and be treated the same way as men. This mind-set is shared by men and surprisingly, some women too.
In 1878, the University of London became the first university in the UK to admit women to its degrees, and actually award them a degree on completion. Oxford and Cambridge accepted women but did not actually award degrees to women. They were allowed to learn but not to be officially considered as smart as their male counterparts.
At DMU gender is treated just as disability, race or sexual orientation are within the Equality and Diversity policies. In short; different people exist, and are acknowledged, but are not treated differently in terms of respect, dignity and rights.
Jasmine Weston, 20, from Women’s rugby said, ‘Emma gave a good, well-rounded speech and all the hate is unnecessary. DMU is actually really good at treating male and female sports teams equally. Both the men’s and women’s rugby teams have had their funding cut, rather than just one.’
Therefore, gender equality works both ways. If a woman wears slouchy jeans, a sweat top and cropped hair around campus, the initial stereotype is that she is tomboyish or not feminine. Whereas it is normal to see a man in super skinny jeans, who is very tanned with a hipster pony tail, and to not think of him as any less masculine.
So it is not really the University putting up barriers but our society’s general perception of gender. Whether that is fashion, lifestyle, or even course choice. What would your opinion be of a male Midwifery student or a female Electronic Engineering student?
We need to break down these stereotypes to make gender equality possible. Fresher’s week recently highlighted some people’s judgemental attitude towards women. You might have seen the guy with the megaphone by the Student Union building steps. He was supposedly promoting student nights out venues, whilst heckling and hassling passer-by’s.
The passer-by’s targeted were all female and clearly did not enjoy being singled out in public. I am not sure how you would respond to, ‘that is the cutest belly button piercing I have ever seen,’ coming from a man on a megaphone across the street.
Bearing in mind most of these students are away from home for the first time and are without the comfort of knowing their friends and family are nearby. The reactions ranged from embarrassment to pure disgust, and rightly so.
Feminism has come a long way, but the fundamental message seems to be lost which is what Emma Watson was highlighting. She said in her speech, ‘the more I have spoken about feminism the more I have realised 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.’
Men have recently become more experimental with their gender stereotypes. Especially with the popularity of the so-called ‘Lad’ culture, hipster revival and slimmer silhouetted fashion. Men now tan, they now care about their morning facial regimes, and long hair is not solely for rockers or the unkempt.
Yet they are all still men, because they are starting to realise that if enough of them follow something then it becomes normal, acceptable and not shocking. Who would have thought the iced gem haircut would have caught on, but it did, and it is now predictable and everywhere. This is exactly what needs to happen with gender equality. It should be a normal and accepted practice.
At the Societies Fair during Fresher’s week, there was not a Feminist Society stall. On the list of Societies on the DSU website, there is not a Feminist Society. There was a society previously at DMU, but it seems to have fizzled out. This is definitely something that needs addressing.
Small things such as; why do I have to wear heels out if I do not feel like it? Funnily enough, you do not have to. Lily Allen and Kirsten Stuart both wore dresses and trainers for comfort, yet society turned it into a fashion phase. Feminism and gender equality is not a phase.
So please watch Emma Watson’s speech on the Demon Media website, www.demon-media.co.uk. I think you will find that this is not just another high profile celebrity adding their influence, but a woman wanting equality, detailing experiences a lot of the female students at DMU can relate to.