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Feminism, Harry Potter, And Becoming Everyday Activists

If you are even relatively connected to the Internet world, chances are you have heard about Emma Watson’s speech on feminism at the United Nations this past weekend. I have seen the Harry Potter star’s support of the HeForShe movement, which urges males worldwide to fight for gender equality as well as for women to own their rights as fellow human beings, shared over 30 times on my newsfeed, and I’m definitely not complaining about it. Among the many items she advocates for surrounding gender equality, Watson touched on the idea of this particular issue’s pressing nature. She asked the audience: if she doesn’t take up the issue at this moment, then who will step up?

I’m not here to just preach about feminism. What I find to be one of the most compelling arguments underneath the speech, however, is the imperative of the present. Now is the time to take action on the social ills that bind us into set paths as human beings, gender-related or not. Watson was not arguing for a massive overhaul of the system, but she was looking for simple acts of acknowledgement of the gender equality movement, support for its correction, and a pledge to do whatever little one can. This “everyday activism” is achievable by people from all walks of life, and it can be spurred by simple, ordinary actions.

As a self-identified and unashamed Harry Potter fan, while watching the speech, I couldn’t help but remember the everyday activism and small changes that Watson’s character Hermione sought to participate in during her time at Hogwarts. From her care for the wellbeing of the Hogwarts house elves, to ensuring that Harry did not fail out of school each year, to cracking riddles and clues every step of the way, Hermione was a model of this type of everyday activism just as much as her portrayer seems to be.

There are many ways that we, as college students—and specifically Boston College students—can live by this ideal of everyday activism and engagement. If you want to save the planet from the ills of global warming, cutting down on your everyday electric or water consumption is a way to be an everyday activist. If gender equality is more your sphere of interest, then debunking anti-feminist myths and calling out your peers when they make misogynistic comments is another route to take. Or, if you’re worried about the global food crisis, then find ways to cut down on food waste and galvanize your roommates to do the same. You don’t have to be Emma Watson, Bono, Nicholas Kristof, or Martin Luther King, Jr. to be an activist. The fight starts with the everyday actions, and how we treat one another as human beings in a national and global context.

Community and social engagement on a basic level may not move mountains immediately, but it does lead to simple victories and small steps toward equality and justice. Through continuous attention to global injustices, prejudices, and wrongs and by utilizing one’s individual talents to engage these issues daily, perhaps everyone can one day play a role in destroying Voldemort. Or, if overthrowing an evil man without a nose isn’t in your grand plan, global equality and world peace would suffice, as well.

Featured Image: AP Exchange

September 24, 2014