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Actress Emma Watson, known for her role as Hermione in the Harry Potter movies, told the United Nations this week that she is unabashedly a feminist. Even though the word, she said, has become associated with being too aggressive and even unattractive. Watson was appointed a Women’s Goodwill Ambassador to the U.N. and gave the speech to launch the “HeforShe” campaign, aimed at getting men to openly advocate for gender equality.
Youth Radio intern Bianca Brooks grappled with what it meant to be a feminist in high school and the stereotypes associated with the word. Listen to her commentary below.
No “Right” Way To Be A Feminist
By Bianca Brooks
I’m a woman, and I love being a woman. Doesn’t that make me a feminist? Not quite.
For a long time, I thought I wasn’t allowed in the feminist club. I always pictured feminists as tomboys who hated men and didn’t shave their legs.
My opinion of feminists got worse when my “first wave feminist” teachers argued with me that Beyonce can’t be considered a feminist, and housewives aren’t “real” women.
Does staying at home and taking care of children, like millions of women do, really mean housewives can’t be feminists? And if Beyonce, a self-managed artist and inspiration to legions of girls, isn’t allowed to be in the feminist club, did I even want to join?
My favorite teacher later said to me, “Feminism is essentially about dignity.” She explained that being a strong woman isn’t enough. I must also empower other women to be themselves–without judgement.
I realized there’s no right way to be a feminist and no wrong way to be a woman, and that the greatest power in being either is the freedom to choose.