Yesterday, to commemorate International Women’s Day, Emma Watson took part in a Facebook Q&A session about the HeForShe campaign; the UN women’s solidarity movement for gender equality. As you can imagine, it was pretty inspirational. Watson managed to flesh out subjects she touched on during her now famous speech at the United Nations headquarters Spetember 2014, while also addressing some other pressing matters – like who on earth should pay on a date! – in the process.
During the session she talked about how gender identity is a continual process:
“I think it starts young, I think it starts really young with girls and boys being told what they can be.”
She discussed women being uncomfortable about embracing feminism:
“For women, it’s about feeling comfortable about admitting that there’s a problem.”
She discussed the harassment she encountered online following her UN speech and how it did nothing to deter her:
“If anything, it made me so much more determined. I was just raging. It made me so angry that I was just like, ‘This is why I have to be doing. This. This is why I have to be doing this,'” she said. “If they were trying to put me off, it did the opposite.”
The issue of chivalry:
“I actually took a man out for dinner and I chose the restaurant and I offered to pay. It was really awkward and uncomfortable – I’m just going to say that. It was not going down well!
He was just like “I’m not really sure about this.” It was making him a bit tetchy. But the cool thing about it was we were both willing to have the conversation about why it was awkward or why it was uncomfortable. We were able to have this dialogue “Well, it’s OK. I chose the restaurant as it is my favorite restaurant and I would love to pay. But next time you chose the restaurant and you pay.”
How feminism is beneficial to both men and women:
“It’s not about men saving women, and I think that’s a misunderstanding,” she said. “Women are already in the club. We’re already in the club because it’s our movement. It’s not a men’s club. It’s an equality club for both genders.”
The importance of intersectionality :
HeForShe is about men coming to support women for femininity and for feminine qualities, because they are currently valued less by our society. Femininity needs to be embraced wherever its found, whether it be found in a man or a woman or a non-conforming gender person. Wherever it’s found we need to value it.
I’m also against racism, and homophobia, and classism, and ableism, and xenophobia, and all of it. My specific mandate is to advocate for women and girls, I’m the U.N. ambassador for women so I’m here to do that. But I also understand that these oppressions are interlocking, mutually reinforcing and that inter-sectionality is a really important word here. We just need to be supporting each other.
And finally, about how, if you are in any way a decent human being, you are probably a feminist.
“If you believe in equality, you’re a feminist. Sorry to tell you.”
If you were feeling a little jaded despite it being Women’s Yesterday, let’s hope Watson changed it for you somewhat, with her proving that she’s basically a real life Hermione Granger!
— Sally Chung (@moanamari) March 8, 2015