People have been very interested in Emma Watson’s recent interview with the awesome author, feminist, and activist Gloria Steinem. Along with the leaders of UN Women, Watson launched He For She, a solidarity campaign dedicated to action and advocacy for gender equality worldwide. The actress announced she was taking a break from acting in 2016, choosing to focus on women’s rights advocacy and putting her role as activist and UN Women Goodwill Ambassador at the forefront of her career. As part of her goal to discover and read “as many books and essays about equality as I can get my hands on,” which she posted on her feminist book club page Our Shared Shelf, Watson interviewed Gloria Steinem about fighting for gender equality, as well as her new book, My Life on the Road (which is the book club’s first selection).
The interview touched on a number of important issues facing women and men. As The Independent so accurately pointed out, many headlines have been focusing on a few details of the interview: Watson’s previous distaste for her strong eyebrows, her new hair-do, and the fact that she *gasp* discussed her sexuality. But their conversation was filled with eloquently discussed points that deserve much more attention. So what did they discuss?
Being a woman, and the struggle to accept yourself and your body:
“I was disturbed by how long a conversation I could have with any woman about what she didn’t like about herself,” said Watson, after her admittance to hating her eyebrows as a young girl. Stein responded:
Our bodies are instruments not ornaments…We should celebrate our different shapes and sizes, our caesarean scars and all the other beautiful imperfections that make us who we are. I hope every woman in this room goes home tonight, looks in the mirror and says, ‘Yes, this is fan-f***ing-tastic!’
Steinem also had this amazing thing to say about women’s bodies and athleticism: “Sports help because they tell women that their bodies are not just objects – they’re instruments.”
Violence against women and the greater implications violence has on society:
“The greatest risk to security is the social devaluation of female life,” said Emma Watson. She continued;
I am so blindsided by the statistic [from Sex and World Peace] that there are now 101.3 men to every 100 women on the planet. Women are no longer half of the planet. More lives are lost from violence against women, sex-selected abortion, infanticide, suicide, egregious maternal mortality, and other sex-linked causes than were lost during all of the wars and civil strife of the twentieth century…From this perspective, the greatest security dilemma is systemic insecurity of women. We are literally affecting the population of the world.
The misconstrued perception of feminism:
Watson explained why activism for Gender Equality is so important to her: “I started He For She to create a conversation that felt inclusive as I felt like feminism was becoming synonymous with man-hating, which is totally incorrect.”
She also lamented about how ‘unpopular’ of a word feminist has become: “Women are choosing not to identify as feminist. Apparently I am among the ranks of women whose expressions are seen as too strong, too aggressive, isolating, anti-men. Unattractive even.”
She then asked Steinem, “Should the word feminism be changed?” to which Steinem pointedly replied, “It’s not the word that matters, it’s the meaning.”
On women in the work-force, and the flaws of patriarchal society:
Women with children are way less likely to get employed while men with children are way more likely to be employed, because they are seen as responsible and women are perceived as distracted,” said Steinem. She also commented on the necessary end of patriarchy: “We are in a hierarchy, which is based on patriarchy and patriarchy doesn’t work anywhere anymore.”
In short, the interview was an amazing exploration of self (for both Watson and Steinem), being female around the world, and activism that had way more than depth and insight than what these headlines professed.
And there is no way we are leaving out this tidbit of advice from Steinem: “Never, never, never give up. And remember to dance a little.”
Featured image courtesy of http://bit.ly/1RRIxUC.