"Feminism" and Feminism: A Rhetorical Criticism of Emma Watson's Address to the U.N.

Courtney Batterson


This analysis uses metaphor criticism to decipher how metaphors function in Emma Watson’s address to the UN. Metaphor criticism proves useful in this critique because it can be used to determine the rhetor’s motive, to evaluate the effectiveness of the message, and to decipher the rhetor’s perspective on a particular subject. This critique uncovers two types of metaphors: those that describe “gender stereotypes” and those that describe “feminism.” The first subgroup of metaphors describes gender stereotypes as evil, oppressing entities that can be overcome or defeated. The second, more complex subgroup of metaphors for feminism suggests the term “feminism” has a negative connotation; one that conflicts with the true definition of the term. In addition, Watson’s inconsistent use of the “fight” metaphor suggests she is hesitant to use “feminism” to describe gender equality. In attempt to make the feminist movement more inclusive of men, Watson resists using the term and instead replaces it with phrases such as “he for she.” Watson’s metaphors suggest she is an advocate for gender equality but that she recognizes the stigma behind the term “feminism” and thus she uses metaphors for “feminism” instead of using the term directly. Since her speech aims to galvanize men and boys for change, she may ultimately be trying to create a new label for gender equality that is inclusive of men. 

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17062/qjur.v5.i1.p1


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