You may remember the massive tantrum the internet’s baby men threw after Emma Watson gave her famous speech on feminism to the United Nations a year ago.
Men’s Rights Activists and other haters of feminism declared that the #HeForShe initiative the Harry Potter star was promoting was little more than a misandrist effort to return to chivalry. They called her a “man hater.” They even attacked her for dating a rugby player.
And of course they put her down as a “first world feminist” focusing on trivial issues that only well-off white women could possibly care about. Of course, her detractors in the Men’s Rights movement don’t actually give a shit about third-world women and girls; their attacks on first-world feminists are mostly just an excuse to rant about the allegedly “pampered” and coddled women of the industrialized west.
“Emma Watson is typical feminist. Rich, pampered, and white,” one longtime MRA declared.
“This lumping together of many valid issues that women (and men of course) in the third world face with those of the privileged and pampered first is frankly obscene,” a commenter on A Voice for Men complained.
And on the Men’s Rights subreddit, another Watson anti-fan sneered that she was
a fucking uber-celebrity on a power-trip stoking her ego by claiming to speak for a group she doesn’t understand, at all. If she keeps this up she’s going to ruin her long term career by becoming divisive and toxic. The backlash is already beginning and it serves the idiot right.
These were some of the milder, er, critiques.
Now, there are certainly things to criticize about Watson’s feminism. But there is also something to be said for choosing Watson, an actress known for playing a beloved character in the Harry Potter films, as a goodwill ambassador to the non-feminists of the world.
Watson may not be able to speak for women in the third world, but it turns out that her message managed to speak to one young woman whose life has been the absolute opposite of pampered: Malala Yousafzai, the teenage Nobel Peace Prize winner who was famously shot in the face by a man trying to kill her and her crusade for girls’ education in Pakistan.
As the New York Times reports,
Malala Yousafzai told Emma Watson she decided to call herself a feminist after hearing her now famous speech at the UN, to launch the “He for She” campaign, which aims to encourage men to fight for women’s rights. “It has been a tricky word. When I heard it the first time I heard some negative responses and some positive ones. I hesitated in saying am I feminist or not?” she told Watson during an interview at a screening of the He Named Me Malala documentary at the Into Film Festival. “Then after hearing your speech I decided there’s no way and there’s nothing wrong by calling yourself a feminist. So I’m a feminist and we all should be a feminist because feminism is another word for equality.”
You can watch the entire interview below: