Emma Watson isn’t Afraid to be called a Feminazi


In a far reaching interview with Esquire UK, Emma Watson takes aim at sexism in the film industry.

More from Harry Potter

Emma Watson continues to fallow in the footsteps of the role she made iconic, that of Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series. After announcing in February that’s she’s taking a year’s sabbatical from acting, she has been just about everywhere. A year away from acting isn’t a year of rest for Watson. it’s a year of activism.

That stance is embodied in her interview with Esquire UK, where she shared the “Mena dn Women’s Issues” cover with Tom Hanks. Hanks, we learn, was her choice, because she sees him as someone who stands up for what he believes in, including championing gay rights, bringing AIDS to the forefront with Philadelphia, and most importantly working with female directors and writers. “I respect him as a man. He is one of those rare Hollywood types who are authentic. He is who he says he is.”

Watson’s interview immediately deep dives into the idea of how a man like Hanks can have a long career, while women’s usually end by the time they are forty. From there they discuss how the world of directing has still refused to open up to women. Watson cites the numbers: “Seven per cent of directors [on the 250 top-grossing films] were women in 2014, and less than 1.3 [per cent] minority women, and only 11 per cent were written by women, according to the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film.” 

You hear of studio heads being like, “We can’t have a woman directing an action movie,” or just sticking to these archaic notions of what a women will and won’t be able to do. But it’s interesting, talking won’t be enough; we really need to see some direct action taken at this stage.

And that need for action is why Watson refuses to be silent. She thinks it’s unfortunately that it required Sony to get hacked before actresses like Theron and Lawrence learned how unequal the pay scale was between them and their male costars, but she’s glad they stood up and said something. She plans to never stop speaking out on it.

We are not supposed to talk about money, because people will think you’re “difficult” or a “diva”. But there’s a willingness now to be like, “Fine. Call me a ‘diva’, call me a ‘feminazi’, call me ‘difficult’, call me a “First World feminist’, call me whatever you want, it’s not going to stop me from trying to do the right thing and make sure that the right thing happens.”

Watson was accused of being a “first world feminist” after her speech at the UN was not all things to all women everywhere. It’s clear she’s thought hard on that accusation and if she should change her message because of it. She also knows that she’s not going to please everyone, and she’s going to slip up and make mistakes as she pushes forward–but that those mistakes shouldn’t stop her.

It’s really easy to trip up. I do it all the time and I’m engaged with it every day. Even the way that our language is constructed is difficult. I say “guys” to a room of girls all the time. I’ve even come out with “Man up!” And I consider myself to be someone who is engaged with this topic. The language is so ingrained and unconscious it’s easy to make a mistake.  Gloria Steinem says feminism isn’t about being perfect. [US writer] Rebecca Solnit says it’s not about being puritanical. We aren’t expecting men to be gender experts, just engaged and conscientious.

The entire interview is worth reading from beginning to end, as is her call to action that accompanies the cover story. It’s clear Watson is just getting started on her journey forward into activism and feminism and using her fame from the Potter series to do good in the world. We’re lucky someone as smart and brave as she was cast as Hermione and is willing to use her position to move the conversation (and the action) forward.

I know if Hermione saw her today, she would be proud.