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Emma Watson’s epic defence of Taylor Swift is a masterclass in feminism

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Anna Brech
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Emma Watson has jumped to the defence of Taylor Swift, comparing the singer’s current copyright battle to the plight faced by lead character Jo March in the novel Little Women

Throughout time, women with creative talent have had to fight for recognition – and that’s just as true now as it was in the 1800s.

Emma Watson illustrated this point flawlessly this week, when she linked the copyright row Taylor Swift is currently facing to a similar battle for ownership that confronted Jo March, the headstrong protagonist of the 1868 classic Little Women.

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Watson plays Meg in Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of the book, but admits that she naturally identifies more with the character of Jo (played by Saoirse Ronan). The film follows Jo’s journey as a burgeoning author, as she pushes to gain copyright to her novel in a male-dominated world.

Much has changed since then. And yet it’s striking that – nearly two hundred years later – women such as Taylor Swift are still struggling to assert ownership of their own work. 

“It’s about believing in yourself and knowing your worth and owning your worth,” Watson tells Variety magazine.

“Right now, the Taylor Swift situation is a great example of, you know, you’re young and you’re talented and someone wants to buy your work, but having ownership at the end of the day is super, super important because you don’t know what someone’s going to decide to do with that.”

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Emma Watson has jumped to the defence of Taylor Swift

Watson also compared the issue to a game of Monopoly.

“I think people undervalue ownership,” she says. “You know when you play Monopoly and you have a decision and you want to own something or get cash fast. The way to win Monopoly, everyone, is to own stuff. I’m just saying.”

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Swift went public with claims that music managers Scooter Braun and Scott Borchetta of Big Machine Label Group were preventing her from performing her old works in a highly-charged essay on Twitter last month. 

The singer said an ongoing fallout with the “tyrannical” pair meant they were effectively blocking her ability to sing her early hits on TV or at events such as the American Music Awards (AMAs), where she picked up the Artist of the Decade award.

“This is WRONG,” she wrote, of her battle with the two managers. “Neither of these men had a hand in the writing of those songs. They did nothing to create the relationship I have with my fans.”

Cara Delevingne at Carnival Row premiere
Cara Delevingne also expressed solidarity with Swift

The label issued a statement hitting out at Swift’s “false information”. The singer was later allowed to sing her old hits at the AMAs, but not before Lily Allen got involved with her own message decrying “controlling, belittling” men in the music industry.

Cara Delevingne, a close friend of Swift’s, also weighed in on the row.

“You need to stand up for yourself… you’re defending yourself and being who you are and that’s what I love about her [Swift],” Delevingne said, speaking at a red carpet event earlier this year. “[…] If you’re an artist and you make things, it’s yours at the end of the day, so own it.”

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As a vocal feminist, it’s little surprise that Watson has joined the rallying call for solidarity around Swift, who has also accused her former manager of “incessant, manipulative bullying”.

A passionate campaigner for UN’s gender division, the Harry Potter star has often referenced the need for women to claim autonomy and equality in their lives.

“I think it is right I am paid the same as my male counterparts,” she previously said. “I think it is right that I should make decisions about my own body. I think it is right that be women involved on my behalf in the policies and decisions that affect my life. I think it is right that socially, I am afforded the same respect as men.”

Images: Getty

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Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for stylist.co.uk. Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.

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