Sorry, but I’m not buying Emma Watson’s brand of twee, faux-feminism


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Sorry, but I’m not buying Emma Watson’s brand of twee, faux-feminism

Hermione, we need to talk

I’m not saying the work Emma Watson does, especially as UN Goodwill Ambassador and with the He For She campaign, isn’t important. It’s great for young girls to look up to clever, confident, accomplished women, and on the surface at least, Emma Watson embodies all those things.

From the sweet child actress we grew up with she’s become a sort of real life Hermione; a voice for the voiceless, a paint-by-numbers feminist who’s conveniently really soundbiteable. Like Hermione, Emma Watson is an articulate and independent figure, but like Hermione, she’s also, sorry to say it, just a bit too twee.

Say it quietly, because it’s taboo to hate her, but I don’t buy into it. Emma Watson speaks out for women, sure, but she speaks in wide, sweeping platitudes, saying inspiring Tumblr-quotable things that fall flat when it comes to anything tangible, anything individual.

In many respects her social media friendly feminism is as lacking in depth as JK Rowling’s social media politics – neither of them seem fully able to separate reality from fiction, fictional characters from real people. JK Rowling, the woman who gave her her fortune and platform, the woman who’s been accused of banning her on Twitter for criticising Johnny Depp’s role in her new film.

And if it’s not Emma’s wide sweeping statements about the theory of feminism which are the problem, it’s the twee PR stunts. You’d be forgiven, even the most supportive of women, for wincing at the Maya Angelou books left on the tube thing. It read like it was created with a BuzzFeed headline in mind: “Guys, Emma Watson is on the London Underground and she’s being as badass and adorable as ever!!!”

Maya Angelou is a great author, and yeah, I’d have been pleased if I’d found a copy of I know why the caged bird sings on the Northern Line, or the L train (she’s repeating the stunt in New York, obviously, you know, the place where the new Harry Potter film is set), but like, what is this actually achieving for anyone? Why is it praised so heavily when all it’s indicative of is the most lightweight brand of feminism that’s yet to exist?

The US election, which galvanised women worldwide into voicing their opinions and later, protesting against a misogynistic President Elect, should have fitted right into Emma’s ‘fighting for what she believes in’. But when everyone else was sounding off, she was strangely quiet.

Since tweeting this a just a few weeks before America went to the polls, there’s practically been radio silence.


It’s true that Emma Watson speaks with clarity and intelligence on important issues, ones that are especially close to our heart, like the sexual assault crisis on university campuses, and improving literacy with young girls. But aside from her cryptic tweet on November 9th, she’s not said much which isn’t promoting her new film. At least on social media, Emma presents a feminism that’s only newsworthy if it’s about her ventures, her activism, her life.

It’s great that we have role models like Emma who at least try to educate and represent feminism, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for improvement. There’s nothing wrong with holding ourselves, our representatives, our celebrities to higher standards – if we’re woke, they should be too, they’ve got the money and the time. And in that respect, Emma’s feminism, the kind that feels like it belongs in a bad Richard Curtis film you watch under a patchwork quilt on a rainy day, doesn’t have very much oomph.