For those of you living under a rock, Emma Watson gave a speech to the UN a few days ago to launch the #HeForShe campaign, which is intended to get men to help eliminate sexism:
I mentioned that I’m grumpy (and overworked), right?
This speech has been called a “game changer.” Sorry, folks, it’s not. It’s a speech, which is not worth a damn unless it is followed up by action. Bush’s Ground Zero speech on 9/11 was a game-changer because it was backed up by the greatest military in the history of the world. Emma Watson’s UN speech is as much a “game changer” as was Obama’s speech after the Arizona shooting. (If you don’t remember what I’m talking about, you’re making my point. A brief refresher: after Gabby Giffords was shot and Obama made some allegedly amazing speech, people asked if it would change the course of his very Presidency. For about a week, there was wall-to-wall media coverage about how this speech would ‘transform’ his ailing tenure in Washington. Turns out, it didn’t change his Presidency, because a good Presidency requires so much more than a cute speech.) Watson’s speech belongs in the same category: lovely, inspirational, not gonna change a damn thing.
Moving along to the content of the speech: let’s not conflate the minor issues that Western women face (i.e. small pay gaps, wolf whistles, ageism, etc.) with having some freak chop off your head or cut off your clitoris. Both sets of issues fall under the umbrella of “sexism,” but only in the same way that failing to recycle a soda can and the Exxon-Valdez oil spill are both “pollution.”