Why the backlash over Emma Watson’s speech highlights a deeper problem

Earlier this week, actress and UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, Emma Watson, gave a speech to launch the United Nation’s HeForShe campaign.

In her speech, she highlighted the inequality and gender stereotypes that are experienced by both males and females, as she called for men to join the fight for global equality.  She also raised the common issue of feminism and the fight for feminist ideals being confused for ‘man-hating’, as they really are not the same thing.

I am glad that Emma spoke up and delivered a strong speech about this issue, which many people seem to skirt around, and she delivered some hard-hitting truths.  However, not everyone was so happy about this and I was disappointed by the backlash that she received.

Photo by MyCanon and used under Creative Commons License.
Photo by MyCanon and used under Creative Commons License.

The silly threat to release nude photos of Emma – which turned out to be a hoax – in response to her speech highlights the deep problems in our society with strong women, how we treat and perceive women, and also the sexualisation of women.  You have to ask yourselves, why did these individuals make the decision to “threaten” Emma with the release of nude photos?

This delves into the deeper issues of relationships and sex, which are two aspects of our society that there needs to be a stronger focus on, starting in the school and also home environment.  They effect your whole life and they are too important to just leave to chanceSex education seems to have been very lacklustre in schools, while relationship education does not seem to be very existent, when it clearly needs to be.

Photo by Sherri Samson and used under Creative Commons License.
Photo by Sherri Samson and used under Creative Commons License.

We need to change our mindsets and properly educate our children and young people, otherwise what hope do we have?  Inequality will continue to exist and females will continue to find themselves in situations that they should never be in.  Don’t get me wrong, I think that in some ways, inequality will still manage to rear its ugly head and not every male will treat a female with respect of care, no matter how well they are educated.  I know that at the end of the day, every individual has their own mind.

However, it is our duty to do the best we can to educate the children and young people so that they can have healthy relationships and respect each other, regardless of gender.  No one should receive backlash for speaking up for their gender, or for domestic violence, or for inequality.  They have been brave enough to speak up for what’s right in a bid to make a change and more needs to be done to support that.

There also needs to be more done about implementing effective sex and relationship education in schools, so why not show your support by signing this petition on change.org.  Just by filling in some details, you are committing to making sex and relationships education in schools compulsory, including the subjects of healthy and respectful relationships, online pornography, gender stereotypes and sexual consent.

Nevertheless, education always starts at home, so we need to be setting the best example we can for our children and ensuring that we teach them about healthy relationships and the value of respect from a young age.  It will be engrained in their brains forever.

Do I belong? How one man escaped the clutches of a violent gang

A powerful and thought-provoking piece about one man’s experience with a violent gang. Have any of you been through or know someone who has been through a similar experience?


Imagine feeling so different to everyone else that you feel like a misfit within your own family and your peers. You feel ostracised, lack identity and crave a sense of belonging. You want to be a part of something important and exciting. You want to be valued and respected.

Meet Keith, (not his real name), now aged 25. He had a terrible accident as a young child, which left him with injuries that affected his speech and facial appearance. He missed quite a lot of school due to being in hospital, and fell behind on his school work. This sent him down a downward spiral of disruptive and anti-social behaviour, both inside and outside of school.

He became a prime target for bullying by his peers because of his differences, and he struggled to connect and build relationships. He was called names, jeered, mocked and laughed at, until he couldn’t…

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The ‘One Minute in May’ Campaign

With the continuous reports of knife crime and youth violence, public awareness and youth centred organisations or initiatives are growing in importance.  These are necessary to not only prevent violent youth crimes, but also to engage the young people of this generation.

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The One Minute in May campaign was set up to “confront the ever-growing threat of knife and gun crime.”  It was started by Tracy Cumberpatch in 2006 (with the help of Wayne Campbell) in remembrance of her 15-year-old son, Kiyan Prince, who lost his life after being stabbed while trying to break up a fight in May 2006.

Tracy intended to have a one minute’s silence in May, the month that her son passed away.  However, she was unable to maintain the running of the campaign, which meant that it was put on hold, until 2013, when it was revived by Bilal Awan and Wayne Campbell.  One Minute in May is not only in remembrance of Kiyan Prince, but all of the young people who have lost their lives to gun and knife crime in the UK.

However, it goes further than the minute of silence – the campaign aims to educate children about the dangers of violent crime in various ways, particularly through the use of film, in a bid to reach out to the “media savvy” young generation.

One Minute in May will commence with a major football event, which will be filmed as part of a documentary that will also be part of the campaign.  They aim to get all of the Premier League and Championship football clubs to “hold a minute’s silence, applause, balloon release or whatever they feel appropriate” during one day in the season, to honour the young lives lost to violent crime.

Although they would like to branch out into other major sports leagues in the future, football is currently a major element of their campaign, because Kiyan was an aspiring football player with a bright future ahead of him.

The documentary will be made for TV broadcasting and distribution in schools, to reach a wider group of young people.  One Minute in May believes “education is  a key preventative measure if children are to benefit from the message of the campaign’s film”.

According to One Minute in May team member Indya Oates: “Education for us isn’t just about going to school and getting good grades… Education helps spot potential talents, help create guidance for their future and keep them occupied with positive things.”

The documentary will follow Bilal as he tries to gain a clear understanding of why knife and gun crime exists.  He also hopes to enlist the help of football clubs, along with family members from around the country who have lost a loved one to gun or knife crime.  They will be visiting a number of high-profile clubs, including Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Manchester United and Liverpool.

One Minute in May also plans to launch a schools film initiative to “explore issues around socially conscious behaviour”.  It will involve children from each of the 32 London boroughs being split into groups and making short films dealing with youth crime, over the period of one month.

Eventually, the winning films from each borough (or top ten) will be screened and the best overall film will be chosen by the Mayor of London and given the title of ‘Schools Short Festival Winner’.

The children involved in this scheme will learn valuable skills in production and post production, as well as learning about core values, street safety and street awareness, in a fun way that will allow them to express their creativity.

The support of young people for One Minute in May has been generally good, although the team has found it quite difficult to get support for their campaign.

Indya says: “I believe that the reason for the lack in support is because [young people] are either currently in a difficult situation due to wrong choices themselves, or know of someone… and therefore , publicly supporting a campaign like this would be quiet contradictory.”  However, she has expressed that there a lot of young people that they still want to reach out to.

It has been upsetting for Indya to see such high rates of crime in the UK, especially because much of it is due to young people hurting their own.  She believes that young people can work together to prevent knife crime, firstly by learning to love themselves and then one another.

Indya said: “There is definitely a lack of love & unity going on at the moment, and everyone is divided. Our younger generation have developed this mentality of standing alone, dropping people out, not creating new friends, thinking that they must do things on their own and don’t need anyone, as if it’s a good thing.

“…In reality what they are doing is segregating each other, creating this mindset of isolation and ultimately creating division instead of realising their similarities & differences and how amazing they can become if they stood together.”

One Minute in May‘s minute of silence will take place on the May 1st, so spread the word and get others involved in this special campaign.  As Indya says: “Young people are our future and we need to give them that support.”

One Minute in May Logo.  Image used with permission.
‘One Minute in May’ Logo. Image used with permission.

Find out more about One Minute in May by visiting their website, following them on Twitter and liking their Facebook page.


University students need more emotional support

We are continuing to read about the increase of mental health issues among young people in the news, particularly on the subjects of suicide and self harm.  The focus on mental and emotional health is forcing us to realise that more action needs to be taken and I think that it is urging the government to put more funding back into mental health services.

I recently read a piece on the Young Minds website about mental health issues among university students, which again put things into perspective.  University can be an extremely challenging time for young people – as the pressures and workloads increase, with many of them having to deal with living away from home for the first time – so they need to be assured that necessary support will be on hand for them if they are struggling.  I believe that extra emphasis needs to be put on the offerings of support that students can receive, so that they understand that they do not need to suffer alone.

However, this is can be difficult due to the funding cuts of university welfare services.  I cannot comprehend why services regarding emotional and mental health are constantly having their funding reduced, as if the government are sending out the message that they care very little for the mental and emotional state of the people.  Again, it makes me ask the question, why does our health always seem to take a backseat?

I struggled during university and I found both my emotional and mental heath suffering, but I decided to push it aside in favour of focusing on my studies. I felt depressed, emotionally drained and unhappy for the majority of my two years, but instead I chose to suffer in silence and when I attempted to speak up, I did not receive the support I actually needed.  Although I left university without a degree, I found a way to pick myself up and get the courage I needed to leave, otherwise I think that my final year may have killed me.

Unfortunately, there are numerous students who do commit suicide during their time at university – “the number of students who took their own lives in England and Wales rose by 50% between 2007 and 2011, from 75 to 112, despite the number of students as a whole rising by only 14%”, wrote Zoe Large for Young Minds.  It is upsetting to see that the number of students committing suicide is on the rise, and this number is unlikely to decrease unless more is done to support students.  They need to feel safe, comfortable and able to come forward to ask for help in their place of education.

Mental health campaigner Ed Pinkney, the founder of Mental Wealth UK said: “This isn’t just about the personal issues facing a minority of students. It’s an academic issue, too. Just as buildings require strong foundations, students cannot be expected to thrive if they lack adequate support.”

Photo by nikolayhg and used under Creative Commons License.
Photo by nikolayhg and used under Creative Commons License.


What does fun mean for young people?

With young people returning to school, college or university this month, fun may not be at the forefront of their minds (although it is said that there is a lot of fun to be had at university).  However, there is  a lot of fun to be had during term time and some young individuals may look at education as fun.

Fun is defined as entertaing, amusement, enjoyment or light-hearted pleasure, which means that it will not be exactly the same for everyone.  Although similarities are inevitable, fun will have different meanings for particular young people.

Fun Fair
Photo by khfalk and used under Creative Commons License.

I know that what fun means to me is different to many of the other young people around me, because of my past and personal interests.  The meaning has also changed for me over the years, as I’ve developed, grown older and gone through various experiences.

When I was a little girl, fun meant delving into my imagination and becoming immersed in the world of my Barbie dolls, which I loved so much.  Now, I prefer to delve into my imagination by reading books, writing plays and sketching fashion designs.

Photo by Beatriz Rizzo and used under Creative Commons License.

Having fun and being entertained is an important part of life, which brings joy to our lives and has different meanings for all of us.  In a world that is full of doom, gloom and sadness, I would like to shine a light on the things that we enjoy in our lives by gathering your thoughts on the subject and learning what fun means to you.  Feel free to leave comments below and let me know your thoughts on that bright word we call fun.