emma watson responds to “white feminist” criticism

She says she has been thinking about it a lot and is aware of her own privilege.

by Charlotte Gush
14 October 2015, 1:50pm

During a Q&A with fans on Twitter, actor and UN Goodwill Ambassador for Women Emma Watson has issued a short response to the criticism that she is a "white feminist" with reference to her famous speech at the UN to launch the #HeForShe campaign.

Although many mainstream media outlets praised Watson as a new feminist hero for her speech, which issued a "formal invitation" to men to join the struggle for women's rights, many intersectional feminist blogs questioned the approach, suggesting that the campaign problematically positions men as the saviors of women and that Watson had spoken from a privileged position as a rich white woman without thinking about the experience of women of color, dubbing her a "white feminist" -- that is, a feminist who only considers the experience of white people.

Asked simply, "Are you a white feminist?" on Twitter, Watson posted a screenshot of a longer answer typed up on her phone. "I'm glad this question came up," Watson opens, saying that, "White feminism implies an exclusion of black women from the movement which I find surprising because my bosses (and the people who gave me the job) are two black women."

"It implies that I am not aware of my own privilege but I mention my own luck/ good fortune/ privilege something like 5 times in my UN speech and my wish to make sure other women have access to the same opportunities that I have," she explains, saying that intersectionality is an "extremely important part of this conversation," though she adds that she cannot "speak on behalf of intersectional feminists specifically," she concludes by saying, "I want to hear as many voices as possible, I want to hear other people's stories. This is a universal and global movement".

Though, again, many websites have hailed her response as "smart," the intersectional feminists of Twitter do not seem to be satisfied with it. "Just because black women hired you does not mean you can't be a white feminist. Please please please. Reconsider this statement," posted one, with another adding, "you completely misunderstood white feminism & haven't disproved your role in it. Knowing black people doesn't help" and another explaining, "anyone can be a white feminist. it literally just means you only focus on western struggles and ignore poc." Some have been more receptive to Watson's response however, with one fan posting that, "The huge impact you've made for gender equivalence means you don't need to defend yourself or your record to anyone. Ever. Thanks.".

Emma Watson
intersectional feminism