What Happened When Emma Watson Was Asked If She's A 'White Feminist'

October 13th 2015

United Nations Women Goodwill Ambassador and HeForShe founder Emma Watson had a great response to a question about white feminism during a recent #AskEmma Twitter conversation with fans on the social media platform.

Watson, a staunch feminist who delivered a powerful speech on gender equality at the UN last year, was asked by a Twitter user whether she considers herself a "white feminist," meaning a feminist with built-in advantages and privileges for someone born white. The British actress answered and said that she is well aware of her privilege, which she mentioned during her UN address in 2014:

"I'm glad this question came up," Watson wrote. "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."

Watson also broached the subject of intersectionality, which UCLA professor Kimberlé Crenshaw defined in 1989 as the "view that women experience oppression in varying configurations and in varying degrees of intensity. Cultural patterns of oppression are not only interrelated, but are bound together and influenced by the intersectional systems of society.”

Watson added that the term "white feminist" seems to imply a person is not interested in discussing intersectionality and that she has always wanted to include that in the conversation about feminism.

"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."

The actress added that she intends to continue using her celebrity to promote gender equality for all.

"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,” she continued. “And I see this as my role- to speak to my own personal experience and to amplify the experiences of other people."

In late August, Watson praised 13-year-old "Girl Meets World" star Rowan Blanchard for writing a powerful essay about white feminism. Blanchard had previously spoken at the UN Women’s annual conference about gender inequality and wrote her Instagram/Tumblr essay in response to a fan question on "how common feminism might exclude women of color and non cis/queer women." Blanchard brought up the gender pay gap and pointed out that women of color tend to face an even larger pay gap than white females.

"[W]ith as many issues as feminists have succeeded in adopting, many of us seem to have not accepted the fact that police brutality and race issues are our issues too. 'White feminism' forgets all about intersectional feminism. The way a black woman experiences sexism and inequality is different from the way a white woman experiences sexism and inequality. Likewise with trans-women and Hispanic women. While white women are making 78 cents to the dollar, Native American women are making 65 cents, black women are making 64 cents, and Hispanic women are making 54 cents."

Blanchard's piece went viral on social media, with many people showering the young woman with positive feedback. Watson did the same:

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