As we know, last week Emma Watson gave an inspiring speech about gender equality at the U.N.
A lot of people really dug it, but there were some depressing reactions, ranging from false rumours about her nude photos being leaked to this kind of thing:
But this letter from a 15-year-old boy, published in today's Sunday Telegraph, is rather more positive.
The full letter was actually cut down. Ed has sent BuzzFeed News the unabridged version.
I recently had a religious studies lesson where we talked about gender and the role it plays in modern society, having watched Emma Watson's speech about gender equality the night before and agreed with everything she said, I was disappointed by how ignorant some of the other boys in my class were (I attend an independent, all boys school in Hertfordshire). I felt compelled to write down my views of gender equality, although I'm not sure how well they would be received by people at my school, I wanted to share it somehow, so here it is.
"If We Really Want Equality"
We're lucky to live in a western world where women can speak out against stereotypes. It's a privilege. Gender equality and feminism is not about "man-hating" or the idea of "female supremacy". It is, by definition, the opposite. The definition of feminism is, "a person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes." It's pretty simple really, and if you believe in those things, then you're a feminist. Feminism can also be interpreted as a woman owning her sexuality, in the same way men do, wearing clothes that make her feel good about herself, or that show off her body, not for the attention of men, without being called a slut and with freedom from the threat of rape, because she wants to.
Recently we've been hearing about what it means to be "masculine" and what it means to be "feminine". It means nothing, barring biological differences. By perceiving these two words as anything other than the description of a human's genitalia, we perpetuate a stereotype which is nothing but harmful to all of us. By using words such as "girly" or "manly" we inadvertently buy into gender stereotyping whether we like it or not.
We live the gender stereotype without realising it, we have been born with it, we played with toys designed for our genders, we go to schools which are segregated, we play sports which other genders do not, and it takes some mindfulness for many people to even acknowledge its existence and the injustice it entails for both genders. If we want equality, it will take more effort than paying women the same as men, or giving women equal opportunities to men.
If we really want equality we must all make an active decision to abandon phrases such as "what it means to be masculine" and the like. If we really want equality we must try our best to ignore gender and stop competing with one another. We must stop comparing ourselves to each other, particularly other people of the same gender, because that leaves us with a feeling of insecurity and self doubt.
We must stop pressuring each other to fit with this stereotype which more often than not leaves us feeling repressed and unable to express ourselves. And most of all, if we really want equality, we need to stop caring. Stop caring about gender, stop caring about another person's sexual preference, stop caring about how far someone fits in with the stereotype and stop caring, most of all, about how much we fit this stereotype, we must not let gender define us.