“…We need to live in a culture that values and respects and looks up to and idolizes women as much as men.” Emma Watson, Entertainment Weekly
Beauty and the Beast recently opened at my local theatre, which makes it a perfect time for me to ramble, or in this case, gush.
Emma Watson, you are my (s)hero. Or my heroine. Or maybe just my “gee I wish you were my best friend” or… You are both inspirational and aspirational. And, to me, you are so way cool.
I remember when I first fell in love with you. It wasn’t when you played Hermione in Harry Potter (even though I did read each book and see every movie. And I am a huge fan of JK Rowling, but that would be a different column, for a different day).
No, I fell in love with you the day after you came out as a feminist.
Well, yes. After is when you came under attack. After is when I realized just how fearless you are—as both and artist and a woman.
Because so much of “after” was sadly, heartbreakingly, from women. Young women. Many of whom grew up idolizing you. Many of whom were now attacking you for having the audacity to call yourself a feminist.
Apparently it’s a very dirty word. A word meant only to be whispered fearfully, furtively in dark alleys. And the women who dare to speak it aloud shall be pummeled and punished and diatribe-d about and against.
A simple eight-letter word which, according to Merriam Webster is defined as the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes. Eight small letters which are somehow powerful enough to strike fear in hearts and shred fabrics of society.
So obviously women everywhere should revile you for using such a word to define yourself.
But a funny thing happened on their way to demonizing you. Let us call it the 2016 Elections. A rather cataclysmic event, I think we can all agree.
And as the dust settled and the reality sank in, many of these young women realized maybe you were right. Maybe you were even onto something. Maybe being a feminist is not a dirty thing, but rather an urgent and important and meaningful and necessary thing. A thing to be cheered, applauded, and even screamed!
And then, dear Emma, in order seemingly to be difficult…
You, who has never wavered nor blinked regardless of the slings, the arrows, and the barbs; never apologized, never tried to “massage the message,” you…
You have to go pose in a risqué picture. Wow.
And now all those women (and yes, I say women. There are incredibly, viciously culpable men, but they don’t concern me in this moment) find their newly defined feminism and turn it on you. How dare YOU call yourself a feminist?
Which brings us full cycle. Young women don’t wish to be feminists because it is somehow not feminine—but—when you do something too feminine—you must be reviled.
And once again, you offer understanding, but no apologies.
“Feminism is about giving women choice. Feminism is not a stick with which to beat other women with…” Emma Watson, Reuters
Which is why Emma Watson, you are my Shero.
Because you understand and advocate for a political, social and economic equality, not a world defined by clothes, make up, boobs, or any other artifice.
So tonight as I buy my ticket to your movie, I will celebrate the beauty and elegance of your photo shoot and the bravery and eloquence of your commitment.
And then I shall go watch Belle with this in mind:
“Feminism can be humorous, and we all have a different way of approaching that. I often wonder what mischief I can make to spread the word in a playful way. You can’t take everything in life seriously, can you?” Emma Watson, Elle Magazine
Stefani Deoul is a novelist and television producer. Her new mystery novel On a Larp was launched as part of the 2017 CAMP Rehoboth Women’s FEST.