Yesterday, in celebration of International Women’s Day, the beautiful and eloquent Emma Watson participated in a live Q&A session at the Facebook offices in London.
Emma cast a spell on us years ago as Harry Potter’s bff Hermione, but somehow, she’s done it again. After being appointed as a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, Emma gave an inspiring speech on gender equality that went viral.
Emma’s speech resulted in an open dialogue around feminism, an issue that largely has been marginalized and considered by many to be synonymous with “man hating”. Emma encouraged men to be a part of the conversation, and reminded us all that we have a ways to go in terms of achieving gender equality.
It’s been remarkable to see this issue in the spotlight, in no small part because of Emma’s involvement. That’s why I was so pleased to see the activist use International Women’s Day as an opportunity to reach even more people through a live, candid, Q&A. Watch the full interview above to see Emma be as charming and insightful as ever. But if you can’t, these are my top 5 moments from the chat:
1. On how gender inequality starts with children:
“I think it starts young, I think it starts really young with girls and boys being told what they can be.”
2. On the word “feminism”:
'Men think it’s a women’s word. But what it means is that you believe in equality, and if you stand for equality, then you’re a feminist. Sorry to tell you. You’re a feminist. You’re a feminist. That’s it.'
3. On how gender inequality affects men too:
“We don’t acknowledge how much pressure we put on men to conform to a certain level of masculinity.”
“If you’ve got a beating heart and you care about things, that’s so great. I’m really disturbed by this idea that men can’t cry. It’s crazy. It’s what makes you human, how you feel, how you express yourself.”
4. On chivalry:
“I love having the door opened for me, isn’t that just polite? Isn’t that just a nice thing to do for someone else? And I love being taken out to dinner. So great. But I think the key is, would you then mind if I open the door for you? Then I’m polite, and you’re polite, then we’re making the world a better place with this small, kind, polite gesture. Chivalry is consensual and only becomes a problem when people expect things to be certain way and follow status quo.”
5. On how women are devalued
“Our society in general devalues the she, I mean the qualities that are associated with the feminine that are found in all of us.”
If I took away anything from Emma’s Q&A, it was this: regardless of which gender we identify with, we all share responsibility in hindering gender equality. Social norms are so ingrained into our sense of being that they’re difficult to notice. But, in recognizing our complicity, we have an opportunity to challenge these norms.
It’s time to unleash our inner feminists and join the movement for change. Check out the campaign Emma is working on HeForShe here, and sign the Action/2015 petition on this page to ensure that women and girls have the same opportunities as their male peers.