Since she delivered her now historic #HeForShe speech a year ago at the United Nations as the UN Women Global Goodwill Ambassador, Emma Watson has emerged as an important voice in gender equality. She’s always honest and thoughtful about the issues she stands for, and she’s always willing to roll up her sleeves and dig in when things get complicated.
Case in point, as Refinery 29 reports, this week Watson hosted an #AskEmma Twitter conversation, in which one Twitter user asked “Are you a white feminist?”
Of course, Watson responded thoughtfully, as she always does:
“I’m glad this question came up,” she wrote back. “I’ve been thinking about it a lot. White feminist 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 good luck/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. It implies a willful ignorance or neglect of the issues surrounding intersectionality.”
For those who may be unfamiliar with the term, intersectionality refers to when forms of oppression and discrimination intersect. For example, racism and sexism/misogyny intersect in how these systems affect women of color.
“I can’t speak on behalf of intersectional feminists specifically but I can use my platform to give those that do have personal experience a spotlight. And I see this as my role- to speak to my own personal experience and amplify the experiences of other people.”
Rather than get defensive for a second, Watson clarifies her history and her position as someone who does not claim to speak for others, but works to advocate for the voices of all. It was a question that needed to be asked, and Watson acquitted herself beautifully with her response. We could all learn from Watson re: how to field hardball questions with grace and smarts.
Read Watson’s complete statement below:
Image via Denis Makarenko / Shutterstock.com