Is He For She For Me?

Emma Watson invited me to a party, but I’m not sure if I’m going to accept.

Her speech at the United Nations for the start of the He For She campaign was all the rage on my Twitter feed.

I listened to the speech with interest after hearing that it riled up a bunch of dissenters. What could she have suggested to get such angry responses?

She suggested such lofty goals as equal pay for equal work. Or girls receiving the same access to education as boys. Or girls not being married off like property while they are still children.

I agree with her on all those things.

She also suggested that feminism shouldn’t have a negative connotation, nor should it be a “women’s thing.” Hence the campaign, intended to call up support from men who agree with the above. It’s not enough for women to say “I’m for equality.” We need men to say it too, not just with words and tweets, but with actions in the public and political spheres.

She said:

“I want men to take up this mantle, so that their daughters, sisters, and mothers can be free from prejudice but also so that their sons have permission to be vulnerable and human too.”

I agree wholeheartedly. I grew up getting picked on sometimes (even as an adult), because where other boys would play football or whatever “real guys” do, I was happy to draw comics, play piano, or cook my favorite foods. When my crew in the Air Force would go drinking or fishing, I would go to the Chapel (a reliable place to find a piano) or library. I had a crewmember express shock that I was married with (at the time) a child on the way. “Dude,” he said, “I thought you were gay!”

Nope. Just human. Just an individual who does things differently than you.

If Emma Watson wants people to be free of gender stereotypes like that, I happily agree.

She also said:

“Both men and women should be free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong.”

You bet! I know some really strong women. And it seems to me that they’ve paid a steep price for being that way. What would be accepted or even respected in a man is often treated like a threat in a woman, at least from what I’ve seen. It should not be so.

Great points, Ms. Watson!

That said, there was something that caught my ear about the speech.

While on the one hand, she said “everyone’s invited to the table, everyone’s welcome to join the conversation,” this was immediately followed with “women should be in control of their own bodies.”

If I disagree with Ms. Watson (and I’m sure I do) about abortion–what it means, whether it is morally acceptable, when life begins, what life is worthy of legal protection–am I welcome to the table? Am I permitted to join the conversation?

More importantly, what kind of conversation will that be?

Just a guess
Just a guess

Because it seems patently obvious that there is one accepted right answer on this subject, and it is the answer Ms. Watson already possesses.

There might be an RSVP on my invitation from Ms. Watson, but there’s no point in responding if my contribution is going to be ignored.

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