Emma Watson Admits She's Guilty Of Practicing "White Feminism" In A Must-Read Letter

10 January 2018, 16:16 | Updated: 10 January 2018, 16:25

Emma Watson letter
Picture: Getty/Pascal Le Segretain;
Nicky Idika

By Nicky Idika

"We need people that love us to call us out."

Emma Watson has been a vocal feminist for as long as many of us can remember. Her speech before the UN as a Goodwill Ambassador cemented her beliefs as public record and gave her the platform to spearhead initiatives like #HeForShe.

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Without diminishing her work as a woman passionate about equality, Emma has seemingly always had a "white feminist" problem.

"White feminist" is a term used to describe individuals who are largely concerned with first world feminist issues affecting straight cis-gendered people. It is often exclusionary of trans folks, people of colour, and those who face income inequality. It is also a brand of feminism that tends to lack nuance.

Case in point, Emma Watson's 2014 criticism of Beyoncé's sexuality on her self-titled visual album, which Emma branded as "such a male voyeuristic experience".

It takes a lot to admit that your world view may need some re-calibrating, but Emma has recently said just that.

In a statement to members of her book club, "Our Shared Self", Emma acknowledged her complicated history with "white feminism".

"When I heard myself being called a “white feminist” I didn’t understand (I suppose I proved their case in point). What was the need to define me — or anyone else for that matter — as a feminist by race? What did this mean? Was I being called racist? Was the feminist movement more fractured than I had understood? I began...panicking."

"It would have been more useful to spend the time asking myself questions like: What are the ways I have benefited from being white? In what ways do I support and uphold a system that is structurally racist? How do my race, class and gender affect my perspective?"

"As human beings, as friends, as family members, as partners, we all have blind spots; we need people that love us to call us out and then walk with us while we do the work."

She also admitted that she used to think feminism was simple, but has since learned that it's "an interrogation of self."

Emma made this statement as she named "Why I Am No Longer Talking to White People About Race" as her first book recommendation for 2018.

People are praising Emma for acknowledging her "blind spots" and making a commitment to doing the work of intersectional feminism moving forward.

Emma's growth IS so important. When people are critical of "white feminists", it's not just calling out people for the sake of calling them out. Giving people the right critique, the tools, and the space to help them grow is just as important as telling them why they're wrong in the first place.

Emma's growth in this area means she heard the criticism and has made an effort to learn and widen her perspective.