What Malala Yousafzai Learned From Emma Watson Is Something We Need Everybody To Remember
This week, Emma Watson interviewed 18-year-old Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai, in an amazing moment for feminists. But strangely enough, Watson said she was actually nervous about bringing up the term "feminism," because while doing research for the interview, she found that Yousafzai had never officially identified herself as a feminist. She removed a question about the subject, but then Yousafzai brought it up on her own accord. Yousafzai and Watson's exchange about feminism was touching, and shows just why the movement is at its best when it's one of love and inclusivity.
Watson interviewed Yousafzai about the new documentary about her life, He Named Me Malala, which was showing at the Into Film Festival. Yousafzai said that she used to think the word "feminism" was "tricky," and that she hesitated in calling herself a feminist for a long time because of the many negative responses to the term. But then, Yousafzai said, she heard the speech Watson gave to the United Nations about gender equality, and it completely changed her mindset:
After hearing your speech, when you said, ‘If not now, when? If not me, who?’ I decided there’s no way, and there’s nothing wrong with calling yourself a feminist. I am a feminist and you’re truly feminist, because feminism is another word for equality.
Yousafzai said that men "have to step forward" to help promote gender equality. In a Facebook status about the interview, Watson said that she was moved by what Yousafzai said:
To my utter shock Malala put the question back into one of her own answers and identified herself. Maybe feminist isn't the easiest word to use... But she did it ANYWAY. ... I've spoken before on what a controversial word feminism is currently. More recently, I am learning what a factionalized movement it is too. We are all moving towards the same goal. Let's not make it scary to say you're a feminist. I want to make it a welcoming and inclusive movement. Let's join our hands and move together so we can make real change. Malala and I are pretty serious about it but we need you.
Watson's reaction to Yousafzai's declaration shows just how much she believes the movement is about love and inclusivity. Like she said, "feminism" should not be a scary word, and women shouldn't fear backlash for saying they are feminists. Further, men should stand up and proclaim their feminism, because it only helps work to destroy toxic ideas and expectations set forth by the patriarchy.
Watson's campaign, He For She, encourages men to stand up for women's rights. Yousafzai's organization, the Malala Fund, works to secure an education for girls in developing nations around the world. Each of them are prime examples of just what feminism means: people working together lovingly to make women socially, economically, and politically equal to men. Watson's interview with Yousafzai shows how feminism is about everyone and for everyone.