British writer slams Emma Watson for gender equality activism, because how dare she speak for women and girls
Actress Emma Watson is as active a feminist as there ever was. In 2014, she served as a United Nations ambassador and launched the UN’s HeForShe campaign, and she took to fighting for gender equality again last week, delivering a speech on addressing campus sexual assault at the UN’s headquarters in New York. To the surprise of no one who gets how our society works, daring to call for rights and respect for women earned the scorn of a British newspaper that called Watson’s activism “whining crap.”
The Sun published a column by Rod Liddle that not only dismissed Watson’s statements on sexual assault and enduring sexism in western society and around the world, but claimed her speech bored everyone (because claims about women’s rights are all invalid unless they’re entertaining to men!). Liddle specifically wrote that at the UN General Assembly, Watson “bored them all rigid with whining, leftie, PC crap. Just like all actresses do if people are stupid enough to give them the chance.”
“Why do we indulge these luvvie slebs, most of whom know nowt? I don’t object to them having views and expressing them,” Liddle added, being the totally-not-sexist guy he clearly is, “I just don’t understand why we take them seriously.” Yes! “Why take women seriously?,” asks a guy who thinks having a dialogue about sexism is unnecessary, not proving Watson’s point at all.
The op-ed additionally hit actress Angelina Jolie, a UN Goodwill Ambassador for more than a decade before expanding her role to become a special envoy, for her activism, because, seriously, fuck all women trying to make change in the world.
As surely as women who assert themselves and demonstrate leadership traits can expect to be blasted for being “bossy” or “overbearing,” demanding rights and respect will earn you criticism for being “whiny” and asking for too much from society. Literally all Watson is doing is saying women who report sexual assault should be taken seriously and that society needs to be more educated about sexual assault and gendered issues that continue to affect the living standards of women in America and around the world. Instead of listening to and considering her points, we’re policing her tone and calling her “whiny”?
This sort of bullshit behavior from the straight cisgender white dudes of the world determined to turn a blind eye to privilege and sexism is plenty predictable, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating.
Female feminist activists are constantly portrayed as whiny, where male allies saying the same things are immune to the same tone-policing and condescending, gendered criticisms. It’s no accident that The Sun conveniently left the likes of Vice President Joe Biden, among the most vocal advocates against sexual assault, or vocal feminist actors like Ryan Gosling out of its nasty hit-piece.
As a female who is constantly writing and talking about sexism, I know the feeling, and I certainly know it’s not unique to me.
At any rate, the speech by Watson made some incredible points about both gender and race that can’t go ignored, discussing how safety isn’t a privilege for only white men, but a right for “women, minorities, and anyone who may be vulnerable,” and “a right that will be respected by a community that believes and supports survivors, and that recognizes that when one person’s safety is violated, everyone feels their own safety is violated. University should be a refuge – a place that takes action on all forms of violence,” she said.
Further, she blasted prevalent attitudes dismissive of sexual assault and survivors:
“What if we’re told, as is the case in many universities, that sexual violence isn’t actually a form of violence? We know that if you change students’ experiences so that they have different expectations of the world around them — expectations of equality — society will change. As we leave home for the first time to study at the places that we have worked so hard to get, we must not see or experience double standards. We need to see equal respect, leadership, and pay.”
At the end of the day, the best way to respect Watson and her words, is to give them more attention than the sexist columnist attacking her.