Emma Watson's Comments On "White Feminism" Are A Lesson In Self-Awareness & Intersectionality
Owning up to a certain title has helped Emma Watson better understand feminism as it pertains to all women. In other words, Watson addressed being a "white feminist" and admitted that she was previously blind to the ideals surrounding intersectionality. According to HelloGiggles, the Harry Potter alum explained that she had a hard time understanding exactly why she was being called out for her whiteness. Though these recent comments may feel a bit overdue, Watson's new revelation is an important one, as it may help shed light on what being a true feminist really means for others, too.
Throughout the statement, which Watson posted to her book club site, “Our Shared Shelf,” the actor honed in on her own white privilege and explained the steps she been taking toward gaining a more intersectional approach to feminism. Among many powerful points made surrounding the club's first reading selection of 2018, Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge, Watson wrote,
"When I heard myself being called a 'white feminist' I didn’t understand (I suppose I proved their case in point). What was the need to define me — or anyone else for that matter — as a feminist by race? What did this mean? Was I being called racist? Was the feminist movement more fractured than I had understood? I began...panicking."
Speaking specifically on her introspection of white privilege and quest to gain a better understanding of issues such as racism, classism, and intersectional feminism, Watson explained that she wasn't quite sure how to initiate a conversational solution to her many questions. She goes on to explain:
"It would have been more useful to spend the time asking myself questions like: What are the ways I have benefited from being white? In what ways do I support and uphold a system that is structurally racist? How do my race, class and gender affect my perspective? There seemed to be many types of feminists and feminism. But instead of seeing these differences as divisive, I could have asked whether defining them was actually empowering and bringing about better understanding. But I didn’t know to ask these questions."
The stigma of being a white feminist is one that has followed Watson for years, with many criticizing her ideals for seemingly leaving many behind who have not been afforded the same advantages that she has been privy to as a white woman.
While Watson openly acknowledged that she initially had the perception that being feminist was an "easy" thing to do, she explained that she now knows that there is so much more to be considered than the empowerment of women. She shared that her newfound commitment to feminism, while difficult, is a worthwhile process that has caused her to discover that there are many facets to be considered. The 27-year-old actor wrote:
"When I gave my UN speech in 2015, so much of what I said was about the idea that 'being a feminist is simple!' Easy! No problem! I have since learned that being a feminist is more than a single choice or decision. It’s an interrogation of self. Every time I think I’ve peeled all the layers, there’s another layer to peel. But, I also understand that the most difficult journeys are often the most worthwhile. And that this process cannot be done at anyone else’s pace or speed."
Being confronted on Twitter for her comments and actions has seemingly been the driving force behind Watson's newfound self-awareness. She goes on to explain how she began to adapt to the idea of being called out, crediting a woman named Happy as the one who lent clarity about what it might take for her to evolve her mindset and clear her blindspots. Watson explained,
"I met a woman this year named Happy who works for an organization called Mama Cash and she told me this about her long history working in the women’s sector: 'Call me out. But if you’re going to call me out, walk alongside me as I do the work'. Working alongside women like Happy is a privilege. As human beings, as friends, as family members, as partners, we all have blind spots; we need people that love us to call us out and then walk with us while we do the work."
Though Watson is aware that there's much more for her to learn, she shared hope that her comments, as well as her club's latest book choice, will help empower others on the encompassing topic of feminism.
It goes without saying that recognizing your own faults can often result in gaining a better understanding of both yourself and others. As in the case of Watson's soul-searching conclusion, knowledge is truly the key which can open doors to a brighter future for everyone.