I have never written a blog post before. I don’t consider myself to be a political person. I have never marched in a protest. I have never even voted in an election. All of this might make me seem apathetic, but it is only because I am just 13 years old. Emma Watson’s recent speech to the UN advocating for gender equality reminded me that even young people can and should have opinions. Emma Watson’s speech inspired me to think about gender equality in a new light. It made me think about ways that I have been treated unequally by my male peers.
Gender stereotyping can occur at a very young age. I remember during my lower school experience. In fifth grade, the boys in my class made a list of the top ten “hottest” girls in our class. They were listing us as though we were objects, and they were only 10 years old. This is one reason why I believe that, although adults should be a big part of creating gender equality, children need to be a part of the conversation, too.
Emma Watson’s speech made me realize, first, that girls are discriminated in society just as much as women. For example, many girls in South East Asia are denied an education because their families believe that educating girls is not as profitable as educating boys. Horribly, some of these girls are even sold into prostitution in order to make a profit for their families. Where did these ideas come about that girls are less capable of learning than boys?
Second, I had never thought that the word “feminism” had a negative connotation. I had neither associated it with “man- hating” nor had I ever thought it meant women having more rights than men. I had always thought of feminism as a concept describing the efforts to create an equal society for men and women. What in the world could be wrong with that? Maybe I should have known better but I was very disappointed to hear Emma Watson declare that no country in the world – even America – has achieved gender equality to date.
Lastly, Emma Watson helped me see that women cannot be the only ones pushing to have equal rights. Men have to join this movement as well. How can we achieve gender equality if only half of our society is advocating for it? I believe that feminism is a notion that one-day women will not be seen as objects to be sold or disrespected, but as peers with equal rights to men. This is what I wish for in society.
By: Jenna Schulman, an 8th grade student in Washington, D.C.