emma watson, the “game-changer,” and the pitiful standards of celebrity feminism

Really interesting comment piece from Babywasu on Emma Watson’s speech to the UN on the HeForShe campaign. There are specific mentions of ‘international development’ in the post, but equally, gender equality, women’s rights, patriarchy etc and international development are all inherently linked, so this post is both explicitly and implicitly relevant to my blog and is important for me to highlight.

My comment to the author was this:

“I can imagine that a lot of white middle class feminists will be offended by what you’ve said, but I find little to disagree with here, many of them are thoughts i’ve had myself. It seems to me (and I feel that this is what you’re saying too) that this is a critique of the wider feminist movement and the global, white-centred, patriarchal system as a whole rather than an attack on Emma or any individual white middle class feminist.

Essentially, you make totally valid points (which some people in the comments section seem to be taking personally), but unfortunately, in the current celebrity obsessed system, where gender binary is widely accepted as the norm, money and power is the holy grail, where women still have to apologise for being a feminist and persuade men of the importance of equality, and where she delivering a speech to a global institution still dominated by white, Western ideology, I wasn’t expecting anything different. Unfortunately, if Emma had come out saying what she should have said (in mine and your opinion), the majority people wouldn’t have heard her. Such is the world we live in. I’m glad that you have called this out though and also understand that Emma said what she could in a world where few people are open to hearing the truth.”

Babywasu’s paragraph on ‘women and girls’ rhetoric echoes my thinking particularly and I’m definitely going to do more research into her points about that. I have also heard the argument made before about linking gender liberation to economic means and that the approach for involving men in women’s rights and gender inequality campaigns is paternalistic. I thought that when I heard Emma ask men to consider THEIR mother/sister/daughter etc – we’re still talking about ownership.

Would be interested to know your thoughts and feelings too!

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One thought on “emma watson, the “game-changer,” and the pitiful standards of celebrity feminism

  1. This is such an interesting post and asking these questions drew my attention inward toward my own reactions to Emma’s speech. Off the cuff I actually found it inspiring and was left feeling hopeful for the future. I agreed with the campaigns aim to make this an equal cause in which men stepped forward and took “ownership” of gender equality too (such an interesting word in itself!). I agreed that they needed to look at their mothers, their lovers and their children and strive for a life they wanted for them. And I felt hopeful that one day the world feminism wouldn’t exist, simply because it wasn’t applicable anymore to a modern, equal world.

    But it is also a sad truth that much of what Emma said was biased, was overly diplomatic, and was shy of some of the truths that could have been said. But I think that is the key to any move toward new thinking. We can’t hope to cut through generations of ideologies and beliefs with a passionate heart and persistent head lock with the “opposition”. Sometimes we need to step back, listen to the other view; and provide a reasoned, logical (and yes, sometimes that’s their logic not ours!) argument that is so compelling that all they can do is agree. If it takes white pretty celebrities and words which resonate with current trends or ideals, so be it. This is how real change happens, by using the tools of modern ignorance to open people eyes to future truths 🙂

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