Emma Watson's fight for feminism

Emma Watson’s Gender Equality Activism Gets Tested

Theater Mania reports that The Public Theater out of New York will become the inaugural location for the #HeForShe campaign created by Emma Watson, a part of the UN Women organization.

This comes after recent news regarding a report about diversity in the work place which was presented when Emma Watson attended the World Economic Forum in Davos to initiate progress for her campaign, to stimulate the cause for diversity in corporations, academia and governments throughout the world.

The Daily Mail has published a report of the details with the #HeForShe campaign which she started right after she was made the United Nation’s Goodwill Ambassador in July 2014.

The report is known as the HeForShe Parity Report, and measures the diversity across fortune 500 companies over leadership roles, pay and equal opportunities in job placement.

Emma Watson attended a HeForShe event at the World Economic Forum
Emma Watson listens to a person providing a report on diversity in the work place at the World Economic Forum. [image by UN Women via Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
Since the completion of the blockbuster series of Harry Potter films and various other acting roles, Emma Watson has increased her activism specifically around issues of feminism.

In November of last year, The Inquisitr wrote that Emma Watson admitted she was nervous before making her speech which started off the campaign because she felt she would be ostracized afterwards.

The immediate result had been quite the opposite in fact and notably because, in the speech, she expressed how the term feminist has been stigmatized and needs to be viewed differently.

I decided that I was a feminist, and this seemed uncomplicated to me. But my recent research has shown me that feminism has become an unpopular word. Women are choosing not to identify as feminists. Apparently, I’m among the ranks of women whose expressions are seen as too strong, too aggressive, isolating, and anti-men. Unattractive, even.

However, the beginning of the year began to draw more negative attention to her cause starting with the death of fellow Harry Potter actor Alan Rickman, where some people accused her of using his death to advance the agenda of her campaign.

The Inquisitr covered the controversy that started with a series of tweets, immediately after news reports of his death.

In a few ways this completes the circle of her journey as it relates to her business relationships as an actor, because Alan Rickman was very familiar with the theater and in particular the Public Theater which is currently known for the highly-praised production of Hamilton.

The anger against Emma Watson has become even more complex around her activism as it relates to current social issues which have in offline reality, has reached a fevered pitch. According to Jewish Business News, a petition was created calling for actor Emma Watson to spend some time without security at the Calais migrant camp in France.

The petition is created through Change.org and as of this writing has close to 17,000 signatures with a goal of reaching 25.

Emma Watson called on to spend time in migrant camp
Emma Watson was called upon to spend a week’s holiday at the Calais camp. [Image by Engagejoe via Flickr / CC BY 2.0]
Being that it is a online petition, it only makes sense that the reaction would also be online, as many have written articles about the ordeal in a tone that suggests that such a huge name like Emma Watson, would be vulnerable to rapists and criminals without security.

But the creator of the petition has defended this by stating that the reason for the request is for her to show solidarity with those who are defending migrants coming into Europe, to show the world that these camps are safe against the prevailing message that comes from anti-immigrant groups.

In the same year before she was made a Goodwill Ambassador, The Independent reported that she was under investigation in early 2014 by UK Immigration for hiring a immigrant from Colombian who was not allowed to work when she was living in London.

The petition appears to originate from a Melbourne man, whom many have referred to as a troll, who’s only trying to get attention.

If the creator of the petition did so for the attention then it appears to have worked as it comes around recent incidents like that of a brawl in a German refugee camp late last year — which was covered by The Inquisitr— as well as the apparent rape of a 13-year-old girl of Russian origin, who is accusing migrants at a camp in Germany, which has created a tense relationship between both the Russian and German government, all of which started because German law enforcement questioned whether the girl had been assaulted at all.

Emma Watson's fight includes defending refugees, Islamophobia in camps across Germany
German Chancellor Angela Merkle goes through papers at EPP summit in Brussels in 2014. [image by European People’s Partyvia Flickr / CC BY 2.0]
According to more details provided via the i24news, she was held for 30 hours and repeatedly raped. When law enforcement suspected she was not being forthcoming, the parents went to Russian, media which created outrage from the Russian government, anti-immigrant groups, and political opponents who are putting more pressure on German Chancellor Angela Merkel to resign.

Currently, the BBC has reported that Germany is ‘warning’ Russia over politicizing the rape case.

Emma Watson’s #HeForShe campaign is related to situations like this because it spotlights issues like this for which she can take the fight by building awareness, which many have also condemned her for it as her trying to force feminism onto others, as a progressive idea.

The camp the petition which calls out Emma Watson refers to however, is not in Germany, but in this case, France, and closer to Britain. Prime Minster David Cameron has also been vocal and therefore controversial in his response to these camps, most notably the Calais camp.

When Emma Watson addressed the latest union with The Public Theater, she acknowledged the importance the arts have with culture and her activism.

“The arts both reflect and influence culture. At its best, art shapes how we see the world. So it makes perfect sense for HeForShe to partner with arts institutions like the Public Theater to evolve the behaviors, norms, and perceptions that shapes our cultural view of gender.”

This holds some truth with regard to the current crisis because famous artists such as Banksy have made statements about the Calais camp as only he knows how by making a mural which is a take, on the famous Les Miserables image of a girl but this time with tear gas erupting around her, a clear jab at a incident which took place when the camp had been tear-gassed.

Or an even more recent event when controversial Chinese artist Ai WeiWei cancelled his exhibition in Demark because the Danish government passed a bill to give them permission to seizes the assets of migrants coming into their country.

As of this writing Emma Watson has not responded to the petition.

Her activism, being as public as it is and in sync with extremely polarizing issues world wide, when Emma Watson took the role as ambassador, she acknowledged her fame and how she’s found a way to manage her will to continue the fight by putting her energy into various projects.

One of these projects was announced through Twitter as a feminist book club called Our Shared Shelf where she will be promoting one book a month and is hosted on Good Reads.

Thanks to her celebrity status, she was able to get 70+ thousand followers rather quickly and even, as the NYMGAG reported, some other famous people to join Emma Watson’s club like model Karlie Kloss.

If there is any indication as to the source of Emma Watson’s determination, it would be in the fact that she is excited about everything from feminist literature to the built up of support for her cause, where anything opposed only seems to make her activism that more relevant.

[Featured image by Abraham Caro Marin / AP Photo]