My Top 6 Takeaways

HeForShe-photo-1

(Photo: HeForShe)

1. Not Everyone Loves HeForShe. In several of my posts – my slacktivism post, my pronouns post.. – I recalled a few groups and people who are a bit more critical of the campaign. From the name of the campaign itself, to the specific calls to action it makes, people have problems with HeForShe. Like I have mentioned previously, I think this type of criticism is inevitable with such a hot topic issue. Every one is entitled to their opinion, and that doesn’t mean that HeForShe is bad or in any way not necessary. So that brings me to my next takeaway…

2. A Lot of People Love HeForShe. Although some people have problems with certain aspects of the campaign, others sing its praises. I went into this more in depth in a previous post, but now more than ever, many believe that we need HeForShe. It is a groundbreaking campaign, and it addresses many persistent issues in society today. I spoke about this in my modern misconceptions post, and noted how  Emma Watson directly addresses false notions of feminism. I think it is about time someone takes a stand on this issue, so that misguided groups like Women Against Feminism are more informed about the true meaning of feminism and gender equality.

Emma

(Photo: HeForShe)

3. People Also Love Emma Watson. Speaking of Watson, people are largely fans of the actress and have positive sentiments toward her. This touches on the power of celebrity that I mentioned in my “what if?” post, and how Watson’s positive reputation combined with her many accomplishments – film roles and a degree from Brown University – have won many people over. She was the perfect person to be the face of the campaign, and many agree.

4. Social Media Had a Huge Role. I truly believe that if it weren’t for the existence of social media and its profound role in how we communicate, the campaign wouldn’t have gained as much traction as it did. The YouTube video of Watson making her speech has had nearly 1.5 million views, and people everywhere shared it on their own social media platforms, further spreading HeForShe to countless networks. If you search the #HeForShe hashtag today, you will notice people are still talking about it.

H4S_Pins

(Photo: DIA)

5. There Was A Lot of Thought Behind the Design. The look of HeForShe is very distinct, and after some research, I found that the design of the campaign was purposeful and distinct. In my post about the strategic design of HeForShe, I go into detail of how the HeForShe logo came to be, and that process shows how thoughtful the whole campaign is. I appreciate it because I am a design nerd, but I think others will appreciate how all-encompassing the campaign is.

6. There Are Tangible Efforts Being Made. Like how I mentioned in my slacktivism post (and my first takeaway in this post), some people believe that HeForShe is just another case of slacktivism where people will tweet their support, but do nothing else other than that. But, very recently, some huge strides have been made that work toward HeForShe’s goal of gender equality. In my post about the goals of HeForShe being tangible, I lay out specific examples of these strides. From more men stepping up to promote gender equality, to state policies being enacted, a difference is being made all over the world. 

Thank you so much for following me through my journey of looking closely at the HeForShe campaign. I learned a lot through the process, and I hope that everyone who followed along learned just as much! I am hoping to continue this blog with other insights and discoveries that spark my interest. From movies, to television and books, and most likely any more information I find on HeForShe, I am making it a goal to keep this blog going!

Thanks again for reading, and stay tuned for more posts soon! 🙂

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Making HeForShe’s Goal Tangible

Many have tweeted or publicly stated that they support the HeForShe campaign. But in addition to all of this support, have initiatives been in place as a result of HeForShe? I did some digging to see if I could prove critics wrong – that HeForShe isn’t just a case of slacktivism, which I described in detail in a previous post.

In my “What if?” post, I mentioned the possibility of a boy or man being in the place of Emma Watson. Little did I know, that UN Women has in fact implemented a male UN Women Goodwill Ambassador. His name is Farhan Akhtar, and he is a critically acclaimed Bollywood star (Tulshyan). Akhtar was appointed South Asia Ambassador to help advance empowerment of women and girls by engaging men and boys (Tulshyan). Like how I mentioned in a recent post where I discussed the power of celebrity, Akhtar is largely successful and relevant in the Bollywood community, quite possibly making him the best leader in the for South Asia and the movement toward gender equality. He is a director, actor, screenwriter, producers, singer, songwriter and TV Star (Tulshyan). What probably landed him the title of UN Women Goodwill Ambassador was probably the launch of his campaign called MARD (Men Against Rape and Discrimination). MARD is designed “to create awareness and to instill gender equality and respect towards women” (“The Initiative” MARD). I think Akhtar’s appointment makes UN Women and the HeForShe campaign more credible trustworthy. They are not only calling on men and boys to fight for gender equality, they are putting that mission into practice by having Akhtar be a Goodwill Ambassador.

Farhan Akhtar

(Photo: MARD Facebook)

In addition to UN Women pushing their own initiative forward the Kenyan government has as well. Recently, Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru, who had launched a campaign called 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence, said that the new policy ensures that aims to prevent gender-based violence and properly respond to it when it does happen (Kibet). Waiguru also added that “the implementation of the document ensured that every Kenyan was assured of a safe and secure environment where human rights were respected and protected” (Kibet). This initiative, which occurred after the launch of HeForShe, not only moves toward gender equality, but also emphasizes how these issues are human rights issues, just like what Watson said in her speech. 

Another tangible effort that occurred recently was in Great Britain when Michael Oliver, a soccer referee for Premier League and also head of Northumberland Football Association’s referee academy, quit because of the failure to not fire John Cummings, the National Football Associations’s (NFA) president, for discriminating against a female referee (BBC). The Football Association did ban John Cummings for four months for telling Lucy May – who is also Oliver’s finance – “a woman’s place is in the kitchen and not on a football field” (BBC). The NFA ruled that the ban as well as a £250 fine was sufficient punishment (BBC). Oliver’s protest in quitting and standing up for May, as well as women everywhere who are affected by those hateful comments, epitomizes what Watson wanted out of HeForShe.

These are just some of the very recent instances where the main goals of HeForShe are coming to life. There is still a very long way to go, but the strides mentioned – which are on a very large scale – are just the beginning of what can happen as a result of HeForShe.

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Kibet, Lonah. “State Launches Policy on Gender Violence.” Standard Digital. 27 November 2014. Web. 29 November 2014.

“Ref Quits Over ‘Kitchen Insult’ Row.” BBC. 21 November 2014. Web. 29 November 2014.

“The Initiative.” MARD. 2014. Web. 29 November 2014.

Tulshyan, Ruchika. “Moved By Emma Watson’s HeForShe Speech? Then You’ll Love UN Women’s Newest Ambassador.” Forbes. 17 November 2014. Web. 29 November 2014.

The Strategic Design of HeForShe

Some might not know it, but I a huge nerd when it comes to digital design. I think many can agree with me on this, but I take websites, blogs, and brands with good looking designs and logos a bit more seriously than others that might not look as good. And with this in mind, I think that the design of the HeForShe campaign is a huge reason why it has been so successful.

HeForShe has a very distinct design, and I was curious as to what was the thought process behind it. Designing a brand – especially a hot topic brand like HeForShe – is a very meticulous process. Especially since HeForShe encompasses such a controversial issue, even the design of the campaign has a purpose. Just as I had predicted, there was much thought behind the look of the HeForShe campaign. Here is what I found out…

The New York design studio known as DIA was the mastermind behind HeForShe’s striking logo and other branding materials (Krasniansky). Mitchell Paone, the designer responsible for HeForShe, was faced with the task of creating “an identity that resonated with both genders equally” while at the same time related to audiences of all different cultures (Krasniansky). With support for HeForShe coming from over 100 countries, the design of it was very important (Krasniansky).

The logo is formed by two shapes that together look like a cross giving “a sense of urgency and of something that needs to be fixed” (Armin) DIA states on their website that the logo is meant to represent the solidarity movement by “joining together aspects of both the female and male symbols.  This union symbolizes women and men working together to make gender equality a reality.  This mark does not favor the male or female symbol, but blends them together creating a new symbol for humanity and gender equality” (DIA).

While communicating a shared sensibility between masculine and feminine identities, they also portrayed a sense of boldness with the typography (DIA). This paired with the “powerful, warm and energetic” colors – black, white, and fuchsia – create a very thoughtful logo for the HeForShe brand (DIA).

If you just take a look at some of the promotional materials that DIA produced, you can see how they used the logo and the shapes in many different ways. From pins to stationery, scarves, posters, tickets, brochures, and I am sure much more, HeForShe has used the design strategically. Check out the beautiful designs below!

H4S_logo_02

H4S_Pins

H4S_Posters_03

H4S_Posters2

H4S_Scarf

H4S_TICKET

(All photos: DIA)

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Armin. “New Logo and Identity for HeForShe by DIA.” UnderConsideration.com. 01 October 2014. Web. 29 November 2014.

“HeForShe.” DIA. 2014. Web. 29 November 2014.

Krasniansky, Adriana. “The Design Behind Emma Watson’s ‘HeForShe’ Campaign. psfk.com. 29 September 2014. Web. 29 November 2014.

The Problem With Male Allies

One of the main goals of HeForShe is for boys and men to become the leaders in the movement toward gender equality. After all, the campaign is called “Heforshe.” Like I had said in a recent post, feminism is largely misconstrued nowadays. Because of this misconception of feminism, people often think only women can hold the identity of a feminist. This just isn’t the case, and Emma Watson clearly stated this in her speech and spoke to men and boys directly with: “I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue too” (“Emma Watson” UN Women).

Before Watson made this speech and before HeForShe began, “male allies” to women did exist. But what exactly are “male allies”? Are they different from feminists who happen to identify as male?

Funnily enough, it is a bit hard to track down a formal definition for a “male ally,” even though the term is used quite often. Formal definitions for gay allies do exist, which can help determine what it exactly means to be a male ally. A gay ally is commonly defined in this way: “Typically any non-LGBT person who supports and stands up for the rights of LGBT people, though LGBT people can be allies, such as a lesbian who is an ally to a transgender person” (University of Michigan).

So, would a male ally be someone who identifies as male and who personally advocates for equal rights and fair treatment of women? Wouldn’t that just make a person a feminist? Some have argued that men calling themselves “male allies” or sometimes “feminist allies” are afraid to label themselves as a feminist, and because of this perpetuate the false assumption that only women are feminist (Nerdy Feminist).

In addition to the frustration people have with the term “male ally” rather than just “feminist”, there was recent controversy during the Male Allies Panel at the Grace Hopper Celebration. The panel brought together male tech leaders to discuss how men could advocate for women in the tech industry (Larson). Unfortunately, the panel didn’t go as well as most thought it would. The panel “spent less time discussing how men can advocate for women than it did instructing women to advocate for themselves by ‘speaking up’” (Hess). People were largely disappointed by this.

grace hopper

(Photo: Readwrite)

Instances like this, and even some popular male celebrities proclaiming they are feminists, are not the only issues people have with “male allies.” In 2012, North Carolina State University sociologist Kris Macomber interviewed several men and women “who advocate against gendered forms of violence” (Hess). What she found was a string of contradictions that lie in the process of incorporating men into feminist movements (Hess). It goes like this… “Because men are ‘members of the dominant group, they have access to social and institutional power that women lack;…and that makes them valuable to feminism—but it also makes them representatives of a culture feminists are working to change” (Hess). So basically, men are called upon to change these gender norms, while at the same time still perpetuating these norms. There are several other interesting findings of this study (that include many more contradictions) and I highly encourage you to read more about it here.

I think that HeForShe has combatted a lot of the problems that people might have with male allies. It might be a bit harder to tackle the controversy over the use of the identity of “male ally” rather than just “feminist.” But like I mentioned in my last “what if?” post, Emma Watson is the perfect person to lead this campaign and I think the selection of her – a strong and influential female – combats the second problem people have with male allies and their influence perpetuating gender norms. Watson has a huge influence among young and old, male and female, and I think that is pretty remarkable.

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“Emma Watson: Gender Equality Is Your Issue Too.” UN Women. 20 September 2014. Web. 29 November 2014.

Hess, Amanda. “Male Allies Are Important, Except When They’re the Worst.” Slate. 15 October 2014. Web. 29 November 2014.

Larson, Selena. “White Male ‘Allies’ Have Surprisingly Little To Say About Fixing Sexist Tech Culture.” Readwrite.com. 09 October 2014.

University of Michigian. “LGBT Terms and Definitions.” Interntional+LGBT. Web. 29 November 2014.

“What is a ‘Feminist Ally?’” Nerdy Feminist. 06 March 2010. Web. 29 November 2014.

What If…

When brainstorming different posts I could write during my examination of the HeForShe campaign, I started thinking of various “What if?” scenarios, and the one that made me most curious was “What if Emma Watson wasn’t the star spearheading this campaign?”

Along with this “what if?” comes several other questions…

“Would the campaign have gained as much popularity?”

“What if an older celebrity led the campaign?”

“What if a boy or man made that infamous speech?”

Clearly, a lot of hypothetical scenarios were running through my mind. To gather my thoughts a bit more, I want to first examine more generally the power of celebrity.

Watson herself is a rarity when thinking about young adult female celebrities. She began her acting career as a child star in the Harry Potter series, a franchise with its own huge following. By Harry Potter’s end, Watson was 21 years-old, and already considered “a fashion icon and a talent to watch” (Simon).

emma-watson-vogue-cover

(Photo: Zap2it)

Studies have shown that successful celebrities have more power in influencing people’s behavior, rather than those celebrities who have waning success (Lindenberg, Joly, and Stapel).  After considering this, it makes total sense why Emma Watson was chosen. Watson was a star in Harry Potter, and since then took on bolder projects like The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and My Week With Marilyn (Simon). To top it off, during this whole time, she modeled for numerous high fashion magazines like Vogue, and casually attended and graduated from Brown University – an Ivy League college (Simon). To say that Watson has been successful might be an understatement.

After looking at the studies and Watson’s success stories, it is pretty clear that Watson may have been the perfect celebrity to lead HeForShe. Just out of general curiosity, I posted the several “What if?” questions to my Facebook friends. One friend in particular had a lot to say on the topic. She claimed that no one else could have lead the HeForShe campaign because “Emma Watson is a trustworthy person who many people look up to.” She continued by remarking that some male celebrities have come out as being feminists, like Tom Hiddleston, Joseph Gordon Levitt, and Patrick Stewart. But the reason none of them could do it is because the UN backed the campaign and is a “respectable international organization.” Finally, she finished with “who doesn’t know who Emma Watson is?”

I agree with my friend, no one else could have done it. Watson is mega-famous, successful, has a barely-tarnished reputation – unlike a lot of young female celebrities (Simon). It also makes the most sense that Watson lead HeForShe for the very fact that she is a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador (Selby). Watson was named a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador just a month after receiving her degree from Brown University (Selby). Secretary General and Director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka remarked that the “engagement of young people is critical for the advancement of gender equality in the 21st century” further emphasizing how important it is that Watson lead the campaign (Selby).

I think when examining hot topic campaigns like HeForShe, it is always good to question it with these type of “what if?” questions. I think it is clear, though, that Watson was the perfect choice. She is successful, smart, and revered by many. Next, I am going to do some digging and see what people – both celebrities and the general public have done to push HeForShe. Stay tuned….

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Lindenberg, Siegwart, Janneke F. Joly and Diederik A. Stapel. “The Norm-Activating Power of Celebrity: The Dynamics of Success and Influence” Social Psychology Quarterly 74.1 (March 2011): 98-120. Web. 24 November 2014.

Selby, Jenn. “Emma Watson Named as UN Women Goodwill Ambassador.” The Independent. 08 July 2014. Web. 24 November 2014.

Simon, Rachel. “How Emma Watson’s Influence Has Changed a Generation of Young Actresses.” Bustle. 04 November 2014. Web. 25 November 2014.

Shifting Gears for a Second….

Some of you may know that this blog originated as a way for me to document my time studying abroad in London. I learned so much during that time, and I was so eager to give advice to friends who were going to London or just studying abroad in general. I eventually found myself creating a sort of guide, giving it to friends or friends of friends who wanted some advice for traveling, studying abroad in general, and living in London.

One of the set of tips I came up with was how to save money in London – it is one of the most expensive cities in the world, after all. So, after I stumbled upon The College Tourist, a student travel blog, I decided to submit my 6 Tips for Saving Some Pounds in London. The article is posted here on their website, so check it out!

My regularly scheduled analysis of HeForShe will be back soon…..

Why We Need HeForShe

I have mentioned in my most recent post and slacktivism post that HeForShe has faced some criticism. This is common with any “hot topic” sort of issue like gender equality, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any support for HeForShe. Many proclaim that HeForShe is monumental and groundbreaking, and here is why…

Emma Watson- why we need heforshe

(Photo: MyPersonalBubble)

In Watson’s speech that launched HeForShe, she cites specific instances where gender norms were assumed on herself and her friends. At age eight she was accused of being “bossy” for wanting to direct plays with her friends, whereas the boys who wanted to direct never were accused of being bossy (“Emma Watson” UN Women). At age 14, she started “being sexualized by certain elements of the press” (“Emma Watson” UN Women). And at age 18, she noticed that her male friends were unable to express their feelings, for fear of being made fun of (“Emma Watson” UN Women).

People have praised Watson for calling people to action to end injustices against women and men. Oftentimes, the gender norms that Watson cites, are never challenged and generally just accepted. For example, female assertiveness is often mistaken as “bitchiness.” Another example is seen in the “millions of male victims of eating disorders and intimate partner violence who are deterred from seeking help due to distorted notions of masculinity” (Gastfriend). Watson is a leading example of how to address this issues that are often ignored.

Like I mentioned in my previous post, Watson primarily calls upon men and boys to make a change for women. However, she does remark that a change for men needs to happen as well. Watson says, “I want men to take up this mantle so their daughters, sisters and mothers can be free from prejudice but also so their sons have permission to be vulnerable and human, too and in doing so, be a more true and complete version of themselves” (“Emma Watson” UN Women). Watson is combatting the continuation of the idea that boys still need to be told things like “men don’t cry” and “shouldn’t feel” and finally “must be strong,” and I think that this is where Watson is truly groundbreaking (Lutes). I think that although women are often oppressed in many ways that has them assuming gender norms, men also face gender norms that aren’t often addressed.

In addition to Watson calling out these norms, she also pointed out the false understanding of feminism. I went into greater detail about this in my modern misconceptions of feminism post, but it is still worth mentioning again. The ideals that are commonly posed when thinking about modern feminism often put man and woman against each other. By pushing back campaigns like Women Against Feminism, Watson is paving the way for true feminism, which is another plus if you ask me.

I just wanted to make a point that HeForShe is not bad in the slightest. I’m afraid some of my recent blog posts have portrayed me as being very critical and perhaps negative toward the campaign, and I just want to set a reminder that I am in no way criticizing the campaign. HeForShe is important, and I encourage people to take part in the movement. It may need some work in certain areas, but overall, I think we need HeForShe.

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Gastfriend, Daniel. “Enough Is Enough: Why #HeForShe Is Long Overdue — and What Men Should Do About It.” Huffington Post. 08 October 2014. Web. 18 November 2014.

“Emma Watson: Gender Equality Is Your Issue Too.” UN Women. 20 September 2014. Web. 14 October 2014.

Lutes, Alicia. “Emma Watson’s #HeForShe Speech Reminds Us That We’re All Better Together.” Nerdist. 24 September 2014. Web. 18 November 2014.