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.

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