Self reflection

Emma Watson reacts to being labeled a ‘white feminist’ by critics

Emma Watson (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Emma Watson has opened up about being labeled a “white feminist” in a letter introducing her book club’s first read of 2018, Reni Eddo-Lodge’s Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race.

“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!” wrote Watson, according to W Magazine. “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 … 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.”

Despite feeling confused, and attacked, by being labeled as a “white feminist,” Watson said that having her expectations challenged in such a way helped her to reconsider her own preconceived notions about what being a feminist meant — and to embrace a conversation that she initially didn’t even know needed to be had.

“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?” Watson wondered. “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.”

Read the full story at W Magazine.

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