Those in the spotlight attract the most attention. Whether it is positive or negative attention, celebrities are known for endlessly being scrutinized under the intense microscope of the public eye. The advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social and economic equality to men has been a pressing issue since the early 1940’s. Celebrities have made it their undertaking to shine a light on pressing issues, including feminism. Celebrities have been successful, shifted the attention from them to the issue, as early as Katherine Hepburn who speaks of the "feminist movement" in the 1942 film Woman of the Year. Several have trailed in her footsteps conveying their message through their work.
Many celebrities have put the attention they receive from the public to good use such as Emma Watson, Beyoncé, Ellen Page and many more. But the movement did not begin with them. The feminist movement has dated all the way back to the 15th Century. Simone de Beauvoir composed his ideas on the topic and said that “the first time we see a women take up her pen in defense of her sex” was Christine de Pizan. Christine was a feminist and an activist for women. As one of the most talked about and controversial topics of our generation, feminism has recently broken grounds. More women are being respected and acknowledged at the same level as men, whether it is on their intellect or creativity. I think the breakthroughs of the feminist movement are correlated to the attention public figures have brought to the matter. I am not saying they are the sole reason women are where they are today, but I think they have played a crucial role in its development.
One tremendously strong and empowered woman who has positively aided the feminist movement, Emma Watson has recently been named Women Goodwill Ambassador in July of 2014. The talented actor, humanitarian and recent alumna of Brown University will endorse the UN woman’s HeForShe campaign. The HeforShe campaign will work to promote gender equality. At only 24 years old, Emma has accomplished more than most will accomplish in their lifetime. She has promoted girls’ education for quite a few years and served as an ambassador for Camfed International, a movement to educate girls in rural Africa. She has formerly visited Bangladesh and Zambia as part of her humanitarian efforts, and has also operated campaigns to encourage fair trade and organic clothing. Her humble and eager attitude provides me with the conclusion that she will be an exceptional advocate, inspiring young women.
Emma’s involvement can be seen all over the internet. First, her eloquent speech as the Women’s Goodwill Ambassador created major buzz and even crashed the UN’s website. She talked about feminism and gender inequality at the UN headquarters in New York to introduce the “HeForShe” campaign, which goals to incite one billion men and boys as advocates for ending the discriminations, women and girls face internationally. The speech gave the true definition of feminism and what not only the "He for She" campaign is trying to accomplish but many others as well. She touched on a very common misconception about the cause and said, “I decided I was a feminist and this seemed uncomplicated to me. But my recent research has shown me that feminism has become an unpopular word. Apparently I am among the ranks of women whose expressions are seen as too strong, too aggressive, isolating, anti-men and, unattractive.”
A lot of people easily confuse feminism with hating men, thinking they are better than men, but that is not at all what feminism is about. Watson could not have delivered her speech any better. Women should feel just as accomplished as men, and maybe even more so, because of the stereotypes and discrimination they have had to overcome.
Watson is one of many who really utilize her power of the media. She has done everything from denouncing a sexist politician in Turkey on Twitter to responding to the gender politics of the recent celebrity nude photo hack. I think she does a brilliant job, and I feel she will continue to do so. She presents herself as a poised young lady, and even though I am eight years younger than she is, it has been a pleasure watching her mature into the young lady she has to this day on and off the screen. She has set a wonderful example, not only for young women, but colleagues and truly anyone who wants to make a difference in this world. Feminism is not even close to being completely resolved, but its women such as Emma Watson who create awareness of society’s mistakes and transformation the world for the better.
Gabby McDaniel is a student at Westfield High School.