What Emma said about Gender Equality
This is a snippet from Emma Watson’s recent speech about gender equality at the United Nations.
It’s also the driving theme behind Unsuitable.
I was going to write a post explaining that, but Emma, that ‘Harry Potter girl’, does it better.
Or course, Unsuitable is a romance written for entertainment, where I switch the normal way of things by having a male nanny and a big earning female executive, and Emma is talking about the real world, where discrimination, and the restrictions of social conditioning aren’t the least bit entertaining – they are maddening and insidious and wrongfully limiting and almost exclusively impacting women.
Emma makes a case for change on a powerful stage. Though it will take more than that to fix the systemic imbalances and gender stereotyping that make it just that much harder to be a woman than a man. (And I’m not on board with the idea that things will change as a natural consequence of men taking up their sensitive side. Seriously? And when did men ever need an invitation to be part of any significant power structure – sigh!)
All I hope to do is add something to the awareness of the issue of gender inequality and tell the kind of story that recognises these issues as ones we deal with in everyday life. And tell a cracky story at the same time. This is not my first story to go there, but it’s the most obvious one.
Here’s Emma, saying what Unsuitable tries to say more broadly too.
I’ve seen my father’s role as a parent being valued less by society despite my needing his presence as a child as much as my mother’s.
I’ve seen young men suffering from mental illness unable to ask for help for fear it would make them look less “macho”—in fact in the UK suicide is the biggest killer of men between 20-49 years of age; eclipsing road accidents, cancer and coronary heart disease. I’ve seen men made fragile and insecure by a distorted sense of what constitutes male success. Men don’t have the benefits of equality either.
We don’t often talk about men being imprisoned by gender stereotypes … If men don’t have to be aggressive in order to be accepted women won’t feel compelled to be submissive. If men don’t have to control, women won’t have to be controlled.
Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong… It is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum not as two opposing sets of ideals.
If we stop defining each other by what we are not and start defining ourselves by what we are—we can all be freer…
Unsuitable arrives October 27 and is available for pre-order on Amazon