Emma Watson has spent her entire career inspiring women. From the intelligence and resourcefulness of Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series to the rebel spirit of Sam in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, every role the actor takes on portrays a complex, meaningful female perspective. Off screen, Watson takes an even more active role in the fight for gender equality. She has been a Goodwill Ambassador for U.N. Women since 2014, the same year she gave a powerful speech on feminism at the U.N. headquarters. The address launched the HeForShe campaign, a movement which was meant to educate men and women on gender equality and how it benefits everyone. In the years since the speech, Watson has continued to spread wisdom about feminism.
In the upcoming live action Beauty and The Beast, Watson takes on the role of Belle. The character, a book-loving woman who dreams of life beyond the confines of her countryside home, is perfect casting for Watson. It's a feminist role that will inspire so many young viewers, and yet, it still managed to stir up controversy when Vanity Fair published a photo shoot and cover story with Watson ahead of the film's release. Watson down shut the criticism about appearing wearing a cape jacket with no top in an interview with Reuters, turning the incident into an opportunity to clear up misconceptions about feminism.
"Feminism is about giving women choice," Watson told the outlet. "Feminism is not a stick with which to beat other women with. It’s about freedom. It’s about liberation. It’s about equality. I really don’t know what my t*ts have to do with it."
Both Watson's original Vanity Fair interview and her comeback to the criticism were filled with gems, which makes this a perfect time to revisit some of the star's best quotes about what feminism really means.
On The Word "Feminist"
In a February interview with Entertainment Weekly, Watson addressed how the word "feminist" is often misinterpreted:
On Tackling The Feminist Issues
In her recent interview with Vanity Fair, Watson suggests change happens when we don't shy away from difficult issues:
On What Defines A Feminist
During her UN Speech, Watson defined feminism point blank:
On Why Feminism Matters
In Watson's UN Speech, she further clarified why feminism is still a vital movement:
On How Feminism Benefits Everyone
Gender equality not only liberates women but also men from prescribed gender stereotypes. #heforshe— Emma Watson (@EmmaWatson) August 18, 2014
There is a misconception that feminism favors women, but Watson made it clear that feminism benefits everybody in the tweet above.
On Becoming A Feminist
In her address at the UN, Watson explained when and why she started identifying as a feminist:
On Feminist Ideology
In Elle UK, Watson added that feminism is not about a set of rules but the freedom to choose how to live:
The backlash over the Vanity Fair photo shoot is not the first time Watson has been challenged for her feminist advocacy, and it may not be the last. What matters is that even when facing criticism, she stays steadfast in her beliefs and uses the opportunity to further demystify feminism for people who don't understand what it means or why it matters. Watson understands that being a feminist is about freedom and equality, and I look forward to her continuing to spread this message through both her acting and activism.