Sunday, May 15, 2016

Prof. Amy Aronson: "Emma Watson brings a new energy to feminism"

[Version fran├žaise]

What do Aziz Ansari, Tom Hanks, Caitlin Moran and Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) Professor Amy Aronson have in common? Emma Watson – yes, Hermione Granger – recently posted a thank you message to all four of them on her Facebook page. Ansari, Hanks, Moran and Aronson were all contributors for Esquire UK’s April 2016 issue, which Editor Alex Bilmes created in collaboration with Watson. Esquire UK, a prominent, men’s magazine, chose to focus this special issue on the UN Women’s HeForShe campaign, for which Watson is a spokesperson. But how exactly did the Observer co-advisor and FCLC professor get involved with Ms. Watson?

The HeForShe campaign poses the idea that gender equality is not just a women’s issue, but a human rights issue. Professor Aronson’s husband, Michael Kimmel, is the Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities at Stony Brook University, which is greatly involved with HeForShe. Kimmel connected Aronson and Emma Watson, who is the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and a heavily involved spokesperson for HeForShe. “She became aware of some of his work and some of the things that were coming out of the center, and the two of them corresponded about some work for this special issue she was doing for Esquire,” she said.

For those who are unfamiliar with Professor Aronson on campus, she has an extensive background in the magazine industry. Having published pieces in publications such as Business Week, Global Journalist, Working Mother, and the Boston Globe, Aronson teaches a variety of courses in Communications and Media studies. Based on her experience in the field, Kimmel suggested Watson speak to Aronson. She said, “He called me in to meet with her on Skype… I made some suggestions about articles for the issue, and one of them was the piece that she ended up asking me to write and that ended up being published in the issue.” Aronson’s piece was a fun, informative timeline. “I call it The History of a Modern Woman. It’s a timeline of kind of turning points in British feminism, and in men’s involvement in British feminism,” she explained. Of the most challenging aspects of creating her piece, Aronson noted, “not only writing funny… but also taking complicated, historical moments and trying to make them both accurate and interesting to a lay reader, and to a lay male reader, who might not necessarily be interested in feminism to begin with.”

Ironically, Aronson was unaware of Emma’s shout out until an FCLC Observer editor discovered it. “I’m embarrassed to say I don’t really use Twitter very often, and so if it were not for The Observer editors I would not have known.” She added, “I was just floored. I was really excited to be mentioned by it at all, but to be mentioned by it in that kind of company… I was totally flattered. ”As a committed feminist herself, Aronson feels strongly that men and women must come together to achieve gender equality, and that this Esquire feature has the potential to rain in young people to the issues at hand.

Aronson had nothing but excellent things to say of Watson personally. She exclaimed, “She is so bright and fully engaged. I found her really, really fun to meet and talk to… She is super smart.” Aronson sees Watson as the ideal spokesperson for HeForShe, as her fame, youth and smarts work greatly to her advantage. “She brings a new energy and a very youthful perspective of issues that are obviously of enduring importance. And with her youth she doesn’t seem to sacrifice a kind of broad, informed perspective… I’m really impressed with her, personally and as an important spokesperson.

Aronson and Watson are an impressive duo. As seen in the special Esquire UK issue, the two women bridged their expertise to create exciting and energetic content for an issue with enduring importance. It is undetermined as to whether Professor Aronson and Emma Watson will join forces again. For now, Aronson will remain a celebrity herself as the Esquire UK issue stars on newsstands for the remainder of April.

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