Emma Watson’s speech “ Gender equality is your issue too”
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There should be not any doubts that we are all different in our own separate ways. Our differences are expressed through individual personalities and ways of interaction. Looks and appearances also influence the way we are seen for others. A common factor about these factors is that they are adjustable. The flexibility of these personal factors makes us adjustable to certain situations and special environments. But there is one particular personal feature we cannot change, which have a significant meaning to us. That is our gender. Gender is often heard in relation to surgeries, rolls and even sexual assaults. Another frequent relation to gender is the equality between the female and male sex.
The question about gender equality is raised in the speech “Gender equality is your issue too” written and presented by the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson, who your might also recognise from the highly acknowledged “Harry Potter” film series – where she plays the character ‘Hermione’. The speech, at a special UN-meeting, launches the UN campaign “HeForShe” which sorts to create a solidarity movement that aims for gender quality. In the speech the Emma Watson talks about feminism, what meaning it has in the world and herself. Further on the UN ambassador discuss why it is important to stand up against and at last the responsibility that lies within all of us to “level-out” gender equality.
Besides being a UN ambassador and frontman for this new campaign, Emma Watson is first of all an actress. She has been taught how to interact, speak and perform, as well as seduce persuade the audience. The speech “Gender is your issue too” is an example of this. To analyse the speech I will be using the “rhetorical pentagon” as a standing point which I indirectly will be moving back and forth from. The rhetorical pentagon is a model that is used as a tool to analyse communication. This type of analysis tool is therefore of significant meaning in analysing a speech as this.
On the following page is a picture of the rhetorical pentagon.
To sell the concept about “HeForShe” Emma Watson uses different techniques and ways of persuasion, as the writer communicates to the reader. As said earlier Emma Watson is known for her roll as “Hermione” in Harry Potter, and to quickly normalize herself she starts of by taking a general standing point in events and observations she has done earlier in her life. “I started questioning gender-based assumptions when at eight I was confused at being called “bossy,” because I wanted to direct the plays we would put on for our parents – but the boys were not. When at 14 I started being sexualized by certain elements of the press. When at 15 my girlfriends started dropping out for their sports teams because they didn’t want to appear “muscly”.
When at 18 my male friends were unable to express their feelings.”1 In the quote above Emma Watsons wants people to look at her as a normal person and not like a super star. She creates an understanding for problems that could occur for ‘normal’ people. She pushes the superstar status away to show that she has an understanding for people, who are not superstars but instead normal and regular people with regular and basic problems. Further on Emma Watson draws meaningful conclusions and points from her own life/experience, that is an indication of her being very aware of the problem which “HeForShe” fights for – gender equality.
Besides speaking on her own behaves on the subject, the UN ambassador has also chosen other authorities2 that she thinks has had a significant saying about gender equality. Including other authorities she creates ethos by including them, as it shows that the writer is open-minded to different but still similar attitudes. She mentions Hilary Clinton who in her self is also an idol for independent women and Edmund Burke, an English/Irish conservative politician and author from the 18 century.
In Emma Watson’s speech it quickly becomes clear what the main purpose of the text is. The main purpose of the text is to inform and further on persuade the reader. This can be seen from the following quote: “Today we are launching a campaign called “HeForShe,” I am reaching out to you because I need your help. We want to end gender inequality – and to do that we need everyone to be 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 gender equality. And we don’t just want to talk about it, but make sure it is tangible.”3 These are the first lines from the speech. From this quote she clearly lays out the agenda for the purposes of “HeForShe”.
In the speech Emma Watson talks directly to the audience. She uses a lot of personal pronouns. This creates a feeling of bonding and unity in the speech – especially between Emma and the audience/reader. The use of personal pronouns is used through out the speech and makes the style of the text personal and emotional. The UN ambassador performs this speech for a lot of important people, but to make this speech understandable for the majority of the world Emma Watson has chosen to use a simple and ordinary language. This strengthens the personal feeling and bonding she creates to her audience and reader. These observations are seen in the quote above.
To really catch her readers attention the UN ambassador Emma Watson also uses rhetorical questions. She asks: “…if not me, who, if not now when.”4 This challenges the reader to reflect on the same problems as Emma Watson points out in her speech. Gender equality is a problem that affects us all and we all need to be involved in the progress towards improvement. Emma Watson repeats the above standing quote in the end of the speech to underline the importance of a joined involvement.
The message of the text is that gender equality is a problem that we all need to stand up and fight against. Besides using this speech as a launch for the campaign, the speech also intents to address this message to the audience. Her primary audience is the participants at the UN meeting and her secondary audience is the rest of the world publicity, where Emma Watsons sees to inform and persuade.