HeForShe campaign brings conversation to campus

Allison Mueller

Samantha Beck/ Winonan

Emma Watson, the British actress known for her role as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter franchise, became the U.N. Goodwill Ambassador and delivered a speech at the U.N. Headquarters in New York, receiving a standing ovation after her conclusion.

In her speech, Watson defined feminism as gender equality, not man-bashing or elevating females over males, which the stigma surrounding feminism may imply.

Much like Watson, Danielle Lombardo, a senior double majoring in education and Spanish at Winona State University, as well as a huge Watson fan, defines feminism as “equality between males and females in all aspects of life.”

“She is someone to look up to, to aspire to,” Lombardo said. “Advocating for equality is always good especially in front of a huge audience.”

Lombardo also addresses the stigma surrounding the concept of feminism. “Women won’t identify as feminists because if you tell a man you’re a feminist, he automatically thinks you hate him and all men. And men won’t admit being one because it is seen as demeaning and less masculine.”

As for Watson’s campaign titled HeForShe, Lombardo believes it is a stepping-stone in the war for equality.  Joe Rys, a communication senior at Winona State, agreed with Lombardo.

Rys said, “It will take work and a change of classic gender roles.  It will take longer in different cultures.”

Rys originally did not identify as a feminist, but, after watching Watson’s speech, he changed his stance.

During her speech, Watson called men and boys to action, to think of how they want their mothers, sisters and daughters to be treated and to start treating and advocating for all women.

“She talked about invert feminists, and I thought about my mother,” Rys said. “Watson gave a general definition of feminism, and her points were the ones I already believed in.  I guess I am an invert feminist.”

Many have an opinon as to why there is such a stigma for men to identify as a feminist.

“Men will not identify as feminists because it would take away their masculinity,” Rys said. “It’s part of ignorance and the stigma surrounding feminism.”

Jorge Ornelas, a freshman double majoring in nursing and Spanish had another take on why men will not admit or identity being a feminist.

“They won’t because it would be seen as too sensitive and therefore gay,” Ornelas said.

Ornelas feels the campaign will not work and said, “It’s about how you were raised.” Ornelas also identifies himself as a feminist.

In her speech, Watson said, “If we stop defining each other by what we are not and start defining ourselves by what we just are, we can all be freer and this is what HeForShe is about. It’s about freedom.” With everyone advocating for equality, Watson implied the world would be less judgmental and more open for all people.

The reaction after Watson’s speech included support, praise and hate.