Emma Watson has experienced sexism from the age of eight. The Harry Potter actress gave a speech at the United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York yesterday in her role as UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and spoke of becoming a feminist at a young age after witnessing discrimination first hand. Speaking for the new ‘HeForShe’ equality campaign – which aims to ”mobilize men against gender inequalities” – she told an audience including Kiefer Sutherland and Forest Whitaker: ”When I was eight, I was confused about being called ‘bossy’ because I wanted to direct the plays that we would put on for our parents. But the boys were not.
When at 14, I started to be sexualized by certain elements of the media, when at 15, my girlfriends started dropping out of their beloved sports teams, because they didn’t want to appear ‘muscle-y,’ when at 18, my male friends were unable to express their feelings, I decided that I was a feminist.”
However, the 24-year-old actress believes the perception of feminism has changed, and those who identify with feminists are seen as ”anti-men” and ”aggressive.” She added: ”My recent research has shown me that feminism has become an unpopular word. Women are choosing not to identify as feminists. Apparently, I am among the ranks of women whose expressions are seen as too strong, ‘too aggressive,’ isolating and anti-men, unattractive, even. Why has the word become such an uncomfortable one? I was appointed six months ago and the more I have spoken about feminism the more I have realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating.”
Emma went on to explain how men are suffering because of inequality and a fear of appearing ”less macho” when they need help. She added: ”Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong. If we stop defining each other by what we are not and start defining ourselves by what we are — we can all be freer and this is what HeForShe is about. It’s about freedom.”