International Women's Day was a day to celebrate of the decades of progress in gender equality, yet also a reminder of all that we have yet to achieve in that regard. Perhaps one of the most anticipated events on Sunday was a Facebook Q&A event with the current darling of the mainstream feminist movement, Emma Watson, in which she discussed equality and women's issues. But another important point surrounding the movement was also touched upon, albeit briefly, when Emma Watson said feminism supports the LGBTQ community, making a point to emphasize the movement's inclusiveness during a critical period in its development.
"My specific mandate is to advocate for women and girls, but I also understand that these oppressions are interlocking and that intersectionality is a really important word here," Watson said. "We need to be supporting each other 100 percent. I hope the LGBT community does feel included, and that this is their movement. It definitely is."
Watson's "He For She" campaign was announced in September — at a UN conference, no less — for the most part to great fanfare, setting out to unite both men and women under the banner of feminism and to achieve greater gender equality. But what about the people who don't conform to typical gender stereotypes in society? One of the greater recipients of misogynistic behavior isn't women alone; LGBTQ people, too, often become victims of such attitudes, even within their own community, as they challenge explicitly inflexible ideals of masculinity and femininity.
Both the feminist and LGBTQ rights movements aim at combating such mindsets. Though there remains some tension between the two (as any maturing movements along the same path often experience), their ultimate goal is equality, be it for gender or sexuality, both important civil rights issues that are deeply intertwined. As the feminist icon — and proud wearer of clitoris rings — Gloria Steinem said, both the LGBT community and women have the same adversaries.
[T]he right wing is against any form of sexual expression that can’t end in conception. So we have the same adversaries and the same allies. [They] want to control reproduction… they want to direct all sex to reproduction, and they punish women for controlling that decision and using contraception or having an abortion. The same people punish two men or two women because that stands for non-reproductive sexual activity. And it’s all a lie. And it’s a lie about human sexuality, which has always been a way we communicate, not just a way we procreate.
Watson's campaign is honorable and her passion for the movement seems sincere. Regardless, it still has a long way to go. Although "He For She" explicitly aims for the support of women and men, one of the more glaring drawbacks of the campaign is its lack of acknowledgment of women of color and disabled women; Watson, on Sunday, only briefly mentioned the inclusion of LGBTQ people. But it is undoubtedly a step forward — having already brought feminism to the mainstream consciousness, Watson can now aspire to greater inclusion of other minority groups, too.
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