We all are aware of who Emma Watson is. We have loved her from the character of Hermione Granger to that of Belle. Since a few years, she has been the voice of Women’s Right Campaign and in 2014 Emma Watson was appointed as UN Women Goodwill ambassador.

However, should she be our role model of how feminist should be?

She has often received criticism for not being a true feminist.

People have criticised her for speaking from a position of privilege as she has fame, money and protection along with beauty of conventional standards which a woman, who is a victim to atrocities and abuse, lacks.

Watson as Belle in Beauty and the Beast

Her role in Beauty and The Beast is a choice which has been seen as contradictory to her feminist philosophies as the movie is about a beautiful girl who is a medium for a prince-converted-into-beast to become human from both inside and outside.

Her HeForShe UN campaign has, also, been controversial. Feminists have asked if female feminists weren’t enough to take stand for women? Do we really need men to stand up for our rights?

This is not it.

She was even criticised for her cover photo in Vanity Fair magazine for showing maximum of her chest as it is not something that a feminist would do. “Feminists aren’t supposed to objectify their body.”

Watson as a feminist

Celebrities have often used social media for increasing their fan base by posting about their controversial personal life and high fashion statements. However, Watson has not been vocal about her personal life on social media. She mostly deals with social issues on social media.

She isn’t someone shouting “GoGirl” or “WomenEmporment” without any base. She deals with issues of women’s right intellectually and it seems like she has done her research. One example, is this post of her’s given below:

Emma Watson’s Instagram post on laws for abortion

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Little changes that matter

Beauty and the Beast, certainly has some anti-feminist qualities. However, the thing to acknowledge is that Watson has tried to mould it to her philosophies in whatever little ways she did.

In an interview, she revealed how her role as Belle was consistent with her feminist philosophies. Belle is supposed to be a girl from a village who is an assistant to her inventor father.

But here she’s a creator, developing a modern washing machine that allows her to sit and read. Watson worked with costume designer Jacqueline Durran to incorporate pockets in her costume that are “kind of like a tool belt.”

Emma Watson as Belle, reading a book

In the animated version, Belle is on and off horses wearing a long dress and
her ballet shoes, which didn’t sit well with Watson. Bloomers were created and Belle’s first pair of riding boots.

Definitely, women don’t need men to speak for them through HeForShe. However, as Mlambo-Ngcuka puts it “For a time, there was a conversation about whether ‘feminism’ was a good thing or a bad thing;” Watson’s speech “gave us the word back.” The campaign in a way puts forward that feminism is not about hating men but it is about equal rights.

Yes, she is speaking from a position of privilege. She doesn’t know what it means to a victim and what it is for a woman to be in a third world society without having beauty according to the conventional standards.

She hasn’t lived that life and she doesn’t know what that life is like.

However, what needs to be noticed is that she is a rich, white woman, with a cut-glass accent in a privileged position trying to understand what it is to be like when you don’t have that privilege.

Obviously, she will never be able to know what it is like to be in a non-privileged position but what matters is that she is trying.

She should be our inspiration

There are numerous feminists, whose words are more intellectually constructed, sensible and rational, still, I am saying that Watson should be our inspiration because of two reasons,

a) every little effort counts and

b) her privileged position is a privilege for supporters of equal rights as her voice can be influential and heard by billions, given her popularity.

Also, equal gender rights is a much broader subject than equal rights for women. Watson has often mixed the two. Like her character, Hermione Granger, in Harry Potter she has tremendous intellect that can sometimes be a bit know-all.

She has much to learn. However, don’t we all have much to learn, always?


Sources: unwomen.org, The Independent,Elle, The Guardian.com, Vanity Fair

Image credits: Google Images

Find the blogger at: @darshna_kumar


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