Emma Watson Is Being Wise Again, Everyone
Emma Watson is putting her best feminist foot forward yet again. The actress, who became a global face of feminism with her "He For She" movement, has again spoken out against gender inequality. And this time, the UN Women Global Goodwill Ambassador has specifically zoomed in to the entertainment business. Emma Watson called out sexism in the film industry and showed that sexism is part of a much larger system than one movie or experience.
Watson dished to The Guardian about her personal experience with sexism, saying, "I have experienced sexism in that I have been directed by male directors 17 times and only twice by women. Of the producers I’ve worked with 13 have been male and only one has been a woman."
The numbers alone are pretty astounding, but then comes the way she has been treated in the public eye as an actress. The 25-year-old went on to say that while her male directors and producers have generally treated her as an equal, the same has not been true for others watching her. She said, "Most of the problems I have encountered have been in the media, where I have been treated so incredibly differently from my male co-stars." As usual it is fantastic that Watson is speaking out against sexism, but this time is especially important because it highlights sexism as something ingrained in our society as a whole; something more than just a blatant insult or comment.
When someone says the word "sexism," it is common for the first thing that comes to mind to be a blunt anti-woman comment or action. Sexist jokes, sexual harassment, or withholding pay from women are obviously forms of gender inequality. But they are not the only forms of sexism out there. As Watson eloquently explains, you can have individual male leaders treat you equally as your male peers and still experience inequality. Just looks at the power dynamics of who has been in charge of Watson and who she has had to answer to. And of course, just look at the way she has been treated differently than her male costars by the public.
I'll defer to Daniel Radcliffe, who pointed this out himself while he was being interviewed by the Associated Press about a new role in a romantic comedy long after Harry Potter. He brilliantly outlined the difference between how the public received him and Watson after their breakout roles in the film. He said,
Around the time of rom com What If coming out, a lot of people were saying: "You're really an unconventional romantic lead." And so eventually I got bored of hearing that and kind of picked someone up on it, so I was like "What about me is unconventional, exactly? Like, tell me." And she said, "Well, I think it's probably the fact that you know, we associated you with playing Harry, the young boy wizard." My immediate response to that was: "Well, the male population had no problem sexualizing Emma Watson immediately."
If Radcliffe has picked up on this, just imagine how it has affected Watson, who is actually experiencing it. Clearly, sexism is part of a larger system, not only in the Hollywood industry, but in society as a whole. And although this issue will not get magically fixed overnight (sadly, not even Hermione could come up with a spell for that), no problem was ever solved by silence. It is a great first step that Watson is talking about this. Now, it is everyone else's chance to listen, and then talk some more, so that all can work to solve it.