Feminism Fridays: From Hermione to HeForShe, Emma Watson Continues to Kick Ass

UN photo/Mark Garten

UN photo/Mark Garten

From the moment Emma Watson entered the world's collective consciousness, she was on every girl's list of heroes. Hermione is one of the best female characters literature has to offer, and I personally loved watching her grow as a person while I myself was growing. 

Now, Emma Watson has gone from a young, unknown girl taking on the Harry Potter mantle to a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and all-around inspiring and amazing human being.

If you haven't seen Watson's UN speech introducing HeForShe, you should watch it immediately. (You should also read UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka's speech as well.) Watson is visibly nervous while giving her speech—and honestly, who wouldn't be nervous when addressing the UN General Assembly—but I think I love her even more for that. Yes, she's a superstar, but she's also a woman who's fighting for all the rights and equalities that the rest of us are fighting for. She's a woman who isn't afraid to stand up and say that enough is enough. We need more women like this.

Obviously there are plenty of women out there fighting for gender equality, but it's an issue that has gotten confused lately by a lack of education. Some women are shying away from the word "feminist," not wanting to be seen as man-haters. Hopefully, though, the HeForShe campaign will help educate not only men but women as well. Feminism is not something to be afraid of. It's something to embrace, just as Watson has done. We should be taking her example and sharing our feminism with women, men, and anyone who will listen. We also need to share it with the people who won't listen, because we will only gain ground with gender equality by being persistent and by not giving up this fight.

Emma Watson is only a couple years older than me, but she is someone I have looked up to for about half my life. Unlike many child stars before her, she's managed to stay true to herself and not let the celebrity lifestyle ruin her. She's intelligent, talented, and genuine, and her recent appointment as a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador has only made her even more of an inspiration to me. 

I've become a more active feminist in the past year or so, but this is another reminder that there is always more to be done. We can't all give speeches at the UN, but we can write blogs, take photographs, make videos, and do countless other things to proclaim our feminism and to encourage the world to join us.

Gender equality is not just a women's issue; it's a human issue, and as humans, we should all be in this together.