Emma Watson, British actress most notable for her performance as Hermione in the Harry Potter series, now spends a portion of her time serving as Women’s Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations. She recently spoke at the UN headquarters in New York, where she launched the HeForShe campaign, self-described as a solidarity movement for gender equality.
She raised some great points about the value of gender equality for men and women, and is using her celebrity status to raise awareness of sexism that continues to occur across the world and permeate every culture. You can read the full transcript of her speech here.
But what did Ms. Watson mean when she said the following:
I think it is right I am paid the same as my male counterparts. I think it is right that I should make decisions about my own body [emphasis added]. I think it is right that women be involved on my behalf in the policies and decisions that will affect my life. I think it is right that socially, I am afforded the same respect as men.”
I’d like to give Ms. Watson the benefit of the doubt that she is referencing sex trafficking, child-brides, and genital mutilation. Perhaps she is referencing that countless preborn and infant girls are murdered through infanticide or abortion simply because they are not boys.
But what if she’s not? What if she is using the age-old tired mantra from pro-abortion advocates, “My body; my choice”? What a gross error to make in advocating feminism: to put autonomy on such a pedestal that it gives a woman the power to bestow or remove worth on her child simply because he or she is developing and growing inside her body. Pro-lifers don’t need to be convinced that the body growing inside the mother’s body is not part of the mother’s body. The scientific community doesn’t need to be convinced of this either. It is a fact: a new, completely separate human life begins at conception.
Abortion does not empower women. A woman does not seek to commit abortion to empower herself, but, as pro-life feminist Frederica Mathewes-Green put it, “She wants an abortion as an animal, caught in a trap, wants to gnaw off its own leg.” Women who obtain abortions are desperate and afraid, and countless women leave feeling overwhelming guilt, loss, depression, and hopelessness.
Abortion does not further gender equality. When a women kills the life inside her, it indicates she has been greatly wronged by her circumstances and by society, and believes she has no other choice. If women have abortions so as not to miss out on the same opportunities men have, then there is something wrong with society. Instead of helping women view abortion as a solution to economic, social, and personal ills, proponents of gender equality should be educating women that they don’t and shouldn’t have to choose between motherhood and a career, motherhood and economic stability, motherhood and equal opportunity. We should be actively seeking legislation and programs that help women and their children, such as WIC, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, crisis pregnancy centers, and paid maternity leave.
Ms. Watson has just debuted as a voice for feminism, and she has a unique opportunity to use her position for good. Her statement was ambiguous enough that we don’t know for sure that she is pro-choice, but we are all too accustomed to associating that phrase with abortion rights. I think it’s important to give her the benefit of the doubt until she explicitly states one way or another. With the topic of feminism, I have no doubt it will emerge sooner or later. I, for one, am hoping she can influence the younger generations for life and equality.