by Chantelle Bertino-Clarke
In Elle Magazine’s December 2015 issue, Lorraine Candy wrote an article based off of her interview with Emma Watson. The interview took place the day after her speech at U.N. summit last September. Ms Watson used this public platform to launch her new campaign, #HeforShe. Ms Watson states that #HeforShe is not a demand for a gender neutrality world, rather a calling for celebrating and supporting the different but equally valuable qualities between men and women. This point is simplistically truthful and I fully support this statement.
The issue with Elle’s article on Ms Watson was the highlight quote of the interview: “We want to empower women to do exactly what they want, to be true to themselves, to have the opportunities to develop. Women should feel free.” Yes, women should feel free, and yes, women should be true to themselves. But the major problem is the clause: “We want to empower women to do exactly what they want.”
If I was to paraphrase that statement; “if a woman wants to walk in the shops naked, she can, and should expect equal respect for doing so.” Doing whatever we want is not the way we will be seen as equal, nor the way we will feel free. If a murderer does what he wants, a lot of people would be dead. If the Chinese frozen fruit brand, ‘Nanna’s’ did what they want, a lot more of Australians would be sick with Hepatitis A.
Why can’t women do whatever they want? Because when our actions affect other people, then we must be conscience of the other people’s rights. That is why a woman, who wants to walk in the supermarkets naked, cannot because it is infringing upon another person’s privacy; we must respect others’ rights to privacy. That’s why a man who wants to catcall a woman walking down the street, cannot because he is infringing upon her right to respect.
So your next question might be; how can Ms Watson encourage men and women to lead others towards gender equality? What is an effective method that everyone can do that will make a path for change? Well… In order to run up to 5Km, one begins to run a little more bit every day. It is through our daily choices that we can make the smallest difference. Not many of us have millions of dollars to start up a campaign, fund a charity that supports women, or start up a clothes fashion line to inspire respect and dignity. Most of us are ordinary Joe’s that share the same passion as Ms Watson. But being an ordinary Joe is not a negative thing, nor does it mean that we are incapable of changing the world. It really just means that our resources are limited for now.
Due to her many more resources, Ms Watson is able to create a change on larger public platform. So what platform do we have, as ordinary Joe’s? Our platform is in our ordinary moments of everyday–from the people we talk to, to the movies we watch. It is by the simple and ordinary things that we do that will eventually change the world. It is like the saying that if everybody put their rubbish in the bin, the world would start to be a cleaner place. The same goes for changing the world to respecting and supporting women as equally valuable people.
By choosing to do the good in every ordinary moment, not only are we living by example but we are changing our ordinary moments into extraordinary moments. And this is how we change the world in the small ways that we can. Whether it is in eating, fitness, shopping, conversations, relationships, or personal character development; we are always have the opportunity to change the world through these smaller and private platforms.
With this in mind, I think that Elle Magazine and Ms Watson could have inspired a lot more change than they did. By asking women to do whatever they want, it almost defeated the purpose of asking for change. If I could change the highlighted quote: “We want to empower and inspire women to stand up for their value, to be true to themselves, to have the opportunity to make every moment extraordinary. Women should feel free, free to be treated like they are valuable, free to choose greatness, free to be extraordinary.”
Chantelle is currently studying at University of Notre Dame. Her goal is to work in the film industry and has recently started “Compass”- Notre Dame Film Club. She runs a youth group specifically for teenage girls for faith formation and community building.