Harry Potter Girl’s Speech on Feminism

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Emma Watson, U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador, and renowned “Harry Potter Girl” gave a brilliant speech to the U.N. concerning feminism and the HeForShe campaign in September in which she was able to effectively market the idea of feminism to men in a way that wasn’t previously used. She played on the gender stereotypes that men face to invite them to feminism and show them the benefits they can gain, while also presenting herself in a way that can get her message across to the men listening to the speech.

Watson’s approach is ingenious, marketing feminism towards men in a way that makes them comfortable accepting it. Even though she’s trying to break out of dichotomy between men and women, Watson skillfully plays into the stereotype of man as the protector or man as the provider of women in order to persuade them to accept feminism, and simply looking at the name of the organization she represents (He-FOR-She, as if “He” is helping “She”) can illustrate that. Using subtle manipulation, Watson takes a ‘I know you have feelings too’ approach, by making the feminist movement about men and talking about men’s rights, stressing that men are oppressed by society to live up to standards of masculinity, and can benefit from feminism too. Essentially influencing men to think as though their reason for not previously joining the feminist movement before was because they felt wronged and left out by feminists, Watson takes the time in her speech to formally invite them into the feminist movement and make them feel included.

The way Watson markets herself in the speech is also something to be lauded for. Analyzing the aesthetics of her speech, she is dressed conservatively in order to be taken seriously, is relaying her message at a serious event, and is an internationally known figure. Watson’s speech keeps it simple and short at 10 minutes, using no big words, and although  the concepts surrounding feminism goes deep, she keeps it simple so that the general public (usually uneducated in these topics) can understand the points that she is making while at the same time making a mention of the gender spectrum concept so that it can be broadened later on. Watson is a person of privilege – a celebrity, smart, young, and is considered by the public to be a representation of being “very hot, but virginal”. Instead of acting bossy, Watson acts timid and nervous in her speech, and even refers to herself as the “Harry Potter Girl”, familiarizing herself to her audience and adding a touch of light humor. On top of already being known as an “innocent” and “pure” female celebrity, she is, in essence, shrinking herself down to what men want to see – not a threat. The way Emma Watson markets not only feminism, but herself as an individual is impressive, and as evident in the past week since her speech, has proven effective.

 

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