Social media interaction has played a large role in the push toward gender equality and other social movements in the past year. Throughout September and October, Twitter has become abuzz with the hashtag #HeForShe, a gender equality movement launched and popularized by actress and United Nations Goodwill Ambassador, Emma Watson, after she gave a speech in New York about #HeForShe on Sept. 20.
Watson delivered a powerful speech at the United Nations conference, urging men to become a part of the feminist
movement and join the conversation about equality, urging them to take action. According to HeForShe.org, over 170,000 men across the world have joined the campaign so far.
That number is not just representative of the average man, but also of celebrities like Joseph-Gordon Levitt and Simon Pegg. Students at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point have also joined the conversation about gender equality as a result of Watson’s speech.
“It is great that a woman is speaking up to powerful people all around the world,” freshman Yessenia Santamaria said . “It’s the 21st century and people have a right to be who they want to be. A woman should not feel inferior to men.”
“I didn’t know such a great actress could feel so strongly about the movement,” freshman Markita Hutchinson said. “Since Emma is a female, it made me feel important that a ‘big’ person cares about the ‘little’ people.”
A large part of the speech revolved around the negative connotations of the word “feminism.” Watson pointed out that there are many misconceptions of what the word means, a major one of those being that it is synonymous with “man hater.” She explained this is not true, and feminism should be seen as a movement towards gender equality.
“The word feminist means power to me,” Hutchinson said. “It means strength within the woman.”
Watson explained that gender equality cannot be achieved with only half of the population involved. Everyone must work together in order to achieve things such as equal pay for equal work.
“Women are not the only feminists, men are too,” Santamaria said. “Feminists are people who fight for what’s right and who speak up.”
Gender equality has been a major social concern throughout time. Only recently, has the subject been unlabeled as “taboo.” The beginning of the feminist conversation for change has begun, and as the #HeforShe movement grows, it seems the more and more people will get involved in making equality happen.