Friday, September 26, 2014
The Twitter-sphere was alive this week with the sound of celebrities taking marker to poster board for #HeForShe selfies shortly after Emma Watson's United Nation's speech on Saturday on gender equality.
But maybe a simple hash tag campaign and that Hermione was put one some feminist pedestal didn't sit right with you either?
Mia McKenzie of the blog, Black Girl Dangerous, explained it perfectly in her recent post:
I think one thing Ms. Watson was kinda sorta but not really getting at was the idea that femininity, whether expressed by women or men (or genderqueer people, I guess, but who knows because they don’t exist in this UN speech or the “HeForShe” campaign), is what gets the short end of the stick in the world. Femininity is seen as weakness and is hated and abused. That’s valid and very, very important, but she didn’t say any of that, doesn’t appear to have a solid analysis of that yet, and it’s a reach to suggest that’s what will come across to most people who listen to her speech.
So, can we please stop trying to make Emma Watson the new feminist icon of the universe? She’s not there yet. She’s still learning, I think, just like Beyoncé, who, by the way, rarely even gets the benefit of the doubt from white feminists, let alone hailed as feminist queen of all things, when her feminist expressions are less than perfect. (Imagine if Beyoncé got up at the UN and gave a speech that centered men in the fight for gender equality. The white mainstream feminist skies would rain down hellfire upon us all. Well, some of us, anyway.)
I hope that as Emma Watson continues to grow into her feminism she’ll chuck these unfortunate approaches. But, frankly, it’ll take a lot more than that for me to see her as the “game-changing” feminist she’s being called. Where’s her analysis of racial justice and its necessity in ending gender inequality? What does she know about misogynoir? Does she understand that wealthy white women like her are often oppressors of women of color and/or poor women in the world? Where’s her understanding of transfeminism? Can she explain to the UN, or anyone else, why violence against trans women needs to be centered in our work against misogyny? Does she know and can she articulate that ableism is woven into not only gender inequality, but every form of oppression that exists? And, importantly, does she understand that as a white woman she is granted access and taken seriously by mainstream feminism in ways that a woman of color wouldn’t be and why, then, it’s necessary for her to step aside and make room for women of color to be heard if gender inequality is ever to be eradicated? Because any real “game-changing” feminist needs to.