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Transcript: Emma Watson’s HeForShe Speech


Today we are launching a campaign called HeForShe. I am reaching out to you because we need your help. We want to end gender inequality and to do this, we need everyone involved. This is the first campaign of its kind at the UN. We want to try and galvanize as many men and boys as possible to be advocates for change. And we don’t just want to talk about it. We want to try and make sure that it’s tangible.

I was appointed as Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women six months ago and the more I’ve spoken about feminism, the more I have realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop. For the record, feminism, by definition, is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.

I started questioning gender-based assumptions a long time ago. When I was 8, I was confused about being called “bossy” because I wanted to direct the plays that we would put on for our parents, but the boys were not. When at 14, I started to be sexualized by certain elements of the media, when at 15, my girlfriends started dropping out of their beloved sports teams, because they didn’t want to appear “muscle-y,” when at 18, my male friends were unable to express their feelings, I decided that I was a feminist. And this seems 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 am among the ranks of women whose expressions are seen as too strong, too aggressive, isolating, and anti-men, unattractive, even. Why has the word become such an uncomfortable one?

I am from Britain and I think it is right that I am paid the same as my male counterparts. I think it is right that I should be able to make decisions about my own body. I think [applause break] … I think it is right that women be involved on my behalf in the policies and the decisions that will affect my life. I think it is right that socially, I am afforded the same respect as men.

But sadly, I can say that there is no one country in the world where all women can expect to receive these rights. No country in the world can yet say that they have achieved gender equality. These rights, I consider to be human rights, but I am one of the lucky ones. My life is a sheer privilege because my parents didn’t love me less because I was born a daughter. My school did not limit me because I was a girl. My mentors didn’t assume that I would go less far because I might give birth to a child one day. These influencers were the gender equality ambassadors that made me who I am today.

They may not know it, but they are the inadvertent feminists who are changing the world today. We need more of those. And if you still hate the word, it is not the word that is important. It’s the idea and the ambition behind it. Because not all women have received the same rights that I have. In fact, statistically, very few have been.

In 1997, Hillary Clinton made a famous speech in Beijing about women’s rights. Sadly, many of the things that she wanted to change are still true today. But what stood out for me the most was that less than 30 percent of the audience were male. How can we affect change in the world when only half of it is invited or feel welcomed to participate in the conversation?

Men, I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. [applause break] …Gender equality is your issue too. Because to date, 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 less of a men—or less of a man. In fact, in the U.K., suicide is the biggest killer of men between 20 to 49, 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 but I can see that they are. And that when they are free, things will change for women as a natural consequence. 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 instead of two sets of opposing ideals. [applause break] …If we stop defining each other by what we are not and start defining ourselves by who we are, we can all be freer, and this is what HeForShe is about. It’s about freedom. I want men to take up this mantle so that their daughters, sisters and mothers can be free from prejudice, but also so that their sons have permission to be vulnerable and human, too; reclaim those parts of themselves that they abandoned and in doing so, be a more true and complete version of themselves.

You might be thinking, “Who is this Harry Potter girl? And what is she doing speaking at the U.N.?” And it’s a really good question—I’ve been asking myself the same thing. All I know is that I care about this problem and I want to make it better. And having seen what I’ve seen and given the chance, I feel it is my responsibility to say something. Statesman Edmund Burke said “All that is needed for the forces of evil to triumph is for good men and women to do nothing.”

In my nervousness for this speech and in my moments of doubt, I’ve told myself firmly, “If not me, who? If not now, when?” If you have similar doubts when opportunities are presented to you, I hope that those words will be helpful because the reality is, that if we do nothing, it will take 75 years, or for me, to be nearly 100, before women can expect to be paid the same as men for the same work—15.5 million girls will be married in the next 16 years as children and at current rates, it won’t be until 2086 before all rural African girls can have a secondary education.

If you believe in equality, you might be one of those inadvertent feminists that I spoke of earlier and for this, I applaud you. We are struggling for a uniting word but the good news is that we have a uniting movement. It is called HeForShe. I am inviting you to step forward to be seen and to ask yourself, “If not me, who? If not now, when?” Thank you very, very much.


Wild Woman Lost

When a loved one dies
Their immortal soul…consoles.
Where then is my solace when
My beloved friend’s spirit…expires?

Shallow grave of a live body and mind
Left behind.
Rude reminder of the wild women
Dropping before my eyes.

How am I to survive
One more woman selling her soul
Whoring her way to security
Well-worn path of obscurity

Settling down for a sickened society
Self-medicating with tv, coffee, consumerism
Prescription for an overdose of consumption
Drugs to mask authentic self-satisfaction

Wild Woman
Please don’t close your eyes
Beat back civility with all your might
Fight for your wildlife

For a woman is surely lost
Without her wilderness
If you’d open your eyes you’d find
The Sacred Union you seek exists within

Best to bring your insides out
Blaze a brazen path
Share your wild ideas
Passions, Purpose, Soul

Sure to enlighten, brighten
Shake-up humanity, your Man-to-be


I’ve finally come to identify
with the devious man who raped me
and his pathetic attempt to possess
my love, beauty, purity

Countless years in the making
my master lesson learned
transformed immense hatred and rage
into tolerance and compassion

For I too have used, confused
wanting you
with wanting me to be more like
the aspects of you I was desperately lacking

Are you free? Wish it was me
Wicked wit? I’ll have some of that
Strength, beauty, passion, devotion
Mine Mine Mine Mine

Obviously my tactics
were far from criminal
But I’m one to aspire higher
and loath to dismiss my psychic transgressions

Unhealthy attractions, self destructive distractions
from personal growth and advancement
They’ll pacify the mind ’til it believes
what it needs exists outside of your self

Now the first hint of clamor and despair over us as a pair
Is my clue, cue to delve deep into my soul
to find you’re merely the mirror
of what I am able, capable of self-actualizing

Because only in the absence of possession and lust
Rather, in the presence of friendship and trust
Can you reach me, teach me
And thus quench my obsession

How might our lives have been different
Had he, we, been told, taught
You can’t find happiness in another woman or man
And the Sacred Union we seek…exists WITHIN




There is no f***ing syndrome!
The ebb before the flow
the storm before the calm
isn’t a THE, it’s a SHE
and that bitch has a name

To insist on calling her PMS
is to resist and deny her
refuse to listen to her
blame and objectify her

She is not a condition
that infected you
she’s the awareness of your condition
Affecting you

She is your best friend
from whom you have no secrets
she is your personal she-ro
and she’s trying to save your life

and hers is the power
to open a woman’s eyes
to her innermost side

Hers is the strength
to bind your restraint
and your ability to not feel
everything in your life
that’s just not right

She lifts the levy that releases
your ocean of anger, rage
boredom and depression
you’ve been keeping at bay

This beast requires reckoning
she’s looking you square
behind the eyes
and her vision is crystal

While she’s looking out
your job is to look within
What do you see?

This is what awareness looks like

Now this premenstrual hero-bitch
is holding your good nature hostage
your shit has risen to the surface
and herein lies your power

To find the courage to affirm
the wrongs in your life
Your window of opportunity
to make them right

Oh yeah
that bitch has a name
mine is Lisa

Conversation with Goddess

My Goddess! Why have you forsaken me?! She:

Men are not to blame for taking
their rightful position as Children of God.

You forget
You are of Me

Allow him his God

I am your Goddess
And it’s time you assume your OWN divinity.

Burning Man: True Story

First, a prelude: A couple of months ago, I saw a friend’s photos of an event called Burning Man. “Cool,” I thought.
Fast forward to the week preceding this year’s Summer Solstice and me searching in vain for a worthy event to mark the occasion.
Fast forward again to the bookstore last night where my favorite section was crowded, so I went to my second favorite section to wait for a book to fly off the shelf and hit me. When it did, I read a woman’s short story about celebrating the Summer Solstice at an event in the desert called Burning Man. Sadly, it doesn’t mark the Solstice any more, but I didn’t “know” that at the time my true story happened…

It’s the middle of the night and I’m awake:

“I’m sorry” I said to the part of me who thinks she knows everything.
“You think you’re so smart” she said.
“That’s the difference between you and me.
You think. I know.”
“But you didn’t know!”
“I did, my love. I willed it so.”
Then I slipped into sleep and my dream self awoke.
As she traveled to Burning Man, she thought to herself:
“That’s funny. The story said it would be dry and dusty out here,
but I’m wet and moist as an oasis.
No dust. It’s all love and primal lust…”
Then my lucid dreamer intervened and spoke:
“Lest you forget, your dreams speak Symbology,
show you below the dusty surface to your soul.
Go to Burning Man, and your waking Solstice dream,
the one you knew about before you learned about it will come true.
And just under your skin, you’ll come alive –
that’s the moist and juicy part that is you.”

Then, I was suspended in my favorite place.
“Am I awake or asleep?” one of me wondered.
Then my mind broke the spell and tried to take credit.
“Ugh!” I say. If you only KNEW.