As we all know, Emma Watson delivered a speech at the United Nations that was seen by some as “groundbreaking.” While there are many who deemed this speech as something out of this world, many feminists saw it as something incredibly generic that didn't even touch on important issues such as intersectional feminism or transgender rights. If anything, some women claim Emma spoke of colored women in a detrimental way. Others rightfully pointed out that there’s a racist tinge to white feminism, and that it was barely touched upon in the speech.
However, while reading articles where women critique the quality of her delivery and the substance of the speech, think of who the target audience was. It wasn’t for feminists, that’s for sure. It was mostly for men, and people who may feel uncomfortable when they hear the word “feminism.”
Take a step back from what you know about feminism and think on these questions:
• What is a feminist?
• What does a feminist look like?
• Do feminists hate men?
We may have gotten something along the lines of: ugly women who don't shave and hate men. Are these accurate, intelligent answers for my questions? No. Do these answers prevail within the most privileged strata of society? Yes.
So what was Emma Watson's speech? It wasn't a speech about feminism, nor was it directed at feminists. This speech was an invitation for men to join feminism. To realize that gender inequality hurts them (in their own way), to make them think of the women in their lives and make the matter more personal. Was it right? Not to some feminists. Was this an intelligent tactic to appeal men who are indifferent about this subject? Hopefully. It was a warm invitation instead of the stereotypically aggressive approach to join feminism.
Think like a marketer trying to reach a new demographic. We have a valuable product –feminism – and our target audience feels intimidated by it. How can we make men more sympathetic towards our product? Here’s where Emma Watson comes into play. She’s a dream girl, immortalized by the book and movie character Hermione Granger; the compassionate, intelligent white girl who defended the house elves at Hogwarts. Does that sound familiar? We now have Emma Watson, the compassionate, intelligent white girl who defends women all over the world, who eloquently and gracefully invites men to join the fight. That’s one thing Emma learned from Hermione: campaigns must be eloquent and non-radical. Nobody likes campaigns such as S.P.E.W. (Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare) and nobody likes radical wizards fighting for house elves.
So now that we have the perfect transmitter of the message. We work on exploiting that image and refining the message. Put Emma in a white dress, thus evoking an image of purity and elegance, with a warm and emotional delivery that could have brought some people to tears, and what do we get? Posts with titles similar to Upworthy’s take on her speech “Her Voice might Tremble, But Emma Watson’s Message was Strong and Clear”. Honestly people, take a second to compare Emma today, with Audrey Hepburn and her long history as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF. I daresay she’s Generation Y’s Audrey Hepburn in the making.
With all that being said, I would have wanted something that would have made everyone in the U.N. soil their pants. But I didn’t get that, because this speech wasn’t directed at feminists. It was directed at people who would rather be lead to think a certain way than to take out a book or look for alternative information.
Hopefully men will begin to project their feelings for the women in their lives onto women they don’t know and join our fight. Hopefully conservatives will say “Well, that Emma Watson is a nice girl, she probably has some good reason to say those things.” But for now, Emma is a Barbie, feminism is a product, and the U.N. is trying to sell them together in a way that is appealing to the masses.
Andrea Garza is a senior Marketing Communications student, often thought to be a Political Communications major. International conflict, Mexican politics, the Drug War, reading, and running really slowly are her interests. She has a secret plan to marry Slavoj Zizek, overthrow Enrique Peña Nieto and kinda make Mexico a better place. Oh, and she knows the NSA is reading this. Hi!