15-Year-Old Boy’s Genius Letter Supports Emma Watson, Feminism

In July, Emma Watson was named United Nations Women’s Global Goodwill Ambassador, focusing her energy on the organization’s newly launched HeForShe campaign. Earlier this month, she delivered what can only be described as a powerhouse speech, urging men and women everywhere to join forces in the fight to break down gender-based stereotypes, and to come together in support of gender equality.

Watson’s message resonated across the globe, with men, women, boys, and girls finding themselves inspired and ready to help push for a more equal world. One 15-year-old took Watson’s advice to heart, and decided to pen a letter in support of the HeForShe movement.

In a letter to the editor of The Telegraph, 15-year-old Ed Holtom of Hertfordshire offered his support to Watson’s cause, writing, “[H]aving watched Emma Watson’s speech about gender equality the night before and agreed with everything she said, I was disappointed by how ignorant some of the other boys in my class were (I attend an independent, all boys school in Hertfordshire). I felt compelled to write down my views of gender equality, although I’m not sure how well they would be received by people at my school, I wanted to share it somehow, so here it is.”

The piece goes on to eloquently explain the definition of feminism, and the things he believes have to change if we are to achieve true equality.

According to the Telegraph, Holtom was inspired by Watson’s speech and wanted to put his feelings into words. In about 20 minutes, he wrote down his thoughts—imagining he was addressing his class—and sent the letter to the Telegraph where it was published this past weekend. Cut to Monday morning, when the entire Internet excitedly shared Holtom’s letter, and the Telegraph made the unlikely move of publishing the extended, unedited version of the note.

Actually, why don’t you read the original, unedited letter yourself (courtesy of the The Telegraph) and then we’ll talk:

We’re lucky to live in a western world where women can speak out against stereotypes. It’s a privilege. Gender equality and feminism is not about ‘man-hating’ or the idea of ‘female supremacy’. It is, by definition, the opposite.

The definition of feminism is, ‘a person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.’ It’s pretty simple really, and if you believe in those things, then you’re a feminist.

Feminism can also be interpreted as a woman owning her sexuality, in the same way men do, wearing clothes that make her feel good about herself, or that show off her body, not for the attention of men, without being called a slut and with freedom from the threat of rape, because she wants to.

Recently we’ve been hearing about what it means to be ‘masculine’ and what it means to be ‘feminine’. It means nothing, barring biological differences. By perceiving these two words as anything other than the description of a human’s genitalia, we perpetuate a stereotype which is nothing but harmful to all of us.

By using words such as ‘girly’ or ‘manly’ we inadvertently buy into gender stereotyping whether we like it or not. We live the gender stereotype without realising it, we have been born with it, we played with toys designed for our genders, we go to schools which are segregated, we play sports which other genders do not, and it takes some mindfulness for many people to even acknowledge its existence and the injustice it entails for both genders.

If we want equality, it will take more effort than paying women the same as men, or giving women equal opportunities to men.

If we really want equality we must all make an active decision to abandon phrases such as ‘what it means to be masculine’ and the like. If we really want equality we must try our best to ignore gender and stop competing with one another. We must stop comparing ourselves to each other, particularly other people of the same gender, because that leaves us with a feeling of insecurity and self doubt.

We must stop pressuring each other to fit with this stereotype which more often than not leaves us feeling repressed and unable to express ourselves. And most of all, if we really want equality, we need to stop caring. Stop caring about gender, stop caring about another person’s sexual preference, stop caring about how far someone fits in with the stereotype and stop caring, most of all, about how much we fit this stereotype, we must not let gender define us.

Ed Holtom, 15 years old 

Did you read that last bit? 15 YEARS OLD. If there’s anyone out there who doesn’t take teenagers seriously—or believe that they can affect change—this letter should set them straight.

(Featured image .)

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