Watson pushes for sexual assault policy reform

An impassioned advocate for women and girls, Emma Watson is no stranger to speaking up to secure the rights of women around the world — and her recent speech is no exception.

According to Marie Claire, Watson addressed the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Sept. 20, to draw attention to “sexual assault on college campuses as she presented HeForShe‘s report on gender equality within universities.”

In her speech, Marie Claire says Watson explained that universities around the world are responsible for showing women “that not only do they have the right to study, but that they have the right and opportunity to lead within universities too.”

Later calling for revamped sexual assault policies on college campuses, Marie Claire reports Watson painted a picture of universities as a “place of refuge” from violence.

“A university should be a place of refuge that takes action against all forms of violence,” she said. “That’s why, we believe, that students should leave university believing in, striving for, and expecting societies of true equality in every sense and that universities have the power to be a vital catalyst for change.”

Watson went on to assert that the college experience must make the safety of all those who are vulnerable, including women and minorities, a “right and not a privilege,” reports Marie Claire.

This right, she offered, “will be respected by a community that supports and respects survivors, and recognizes that when one person’s safety is violated, the safety of everyone should feel violated.”

The ‘F’ Word

Censoring the ‘f’ word, among other profanities, in television, music and print is a commonplace practice. But what if the ‘f’ word that was the object of attempted censorship was not a dirty word?

This is exactly what happened to actress Emma Watson when she launched the HeForShe gender equality campaign in September 2014. According to The Huffington Post, Watson faced some opposition prior to her delivering her now-famous speech to launch the campaign because of a different ‘f’ word: feminism.

“I was encouraged not to use the word ‘feminism’ because people felt that it was alienating and separating and the whole idea of the speech was to include as many people as possible,” Watson said of her speech, which intended to encourage men “to participate in and support feminist causes.

In her interview with Porter magazine, Watson explained her decision to use the word anyway, despite the pushback. “But I thought long and hard and ultimately felt that it was just the right thing to do. If women are terrified to use the word, how on earth are men supposed to start using it?”

The actress and feminist figure said that using the word “feminist” in her speech was as much a way to make others comfortable with the term as it was a way to assert her own identity.

“For the first time in my life I feel like I have a sense of self that I’m comfortable with,” she explained. “I actually do have things that I want to say and I want to be my most authentic self.”

No censorship needed for this ‘f’word. Thanks, Emma Watson, for showing us that the word “feminism” isn’t a profanity.