“In order to win our full humanity, in life, we have to confront the biggest superpower in the world: the patriarchy,” says Emma Watson.
Emma Watson has made her name as two very famous bookworms – Hermione Granger, from the Harry Potter films, and Beauty and the Beast’s Belle. And, as UN Goodwill Ambassador, she is also renowned for her incredible work with and for women all around the world.
So it should come as little surprise to learn that Watson (who also runs her own book club) was asked to pen the foreword for a newly-released edition of Gloria Steinem’s iconic feminist tome, Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions.
Taking to Instagram to announce the news, Watson wrote: “Why do I love Gloria’s writing so much? She makes what otherwise can be arduous and depressing reading, into something not only relatable but enjoyable.”
The actress continued: “She believes in personal testimony - the sharing and passing on of women’s stories…She uncovers things that are obscured by today’s conditioning and normalizing which when exposed, are absolutely fascinating. Her plain common sense – calling things out as they are – will make you laugh out loud. Sometimes the world she envisions seems so far out and impossible to me or just wildly optimistic. But I have come to believe it is through radical feminism and the radical nature of Gloria’s message, that the job of equality will get done. I used to think the citadel didn’t have to topple. Now I believe it just might and should, and that we need to let old ways of being die for something new to be born. This book contains ideas for that new road, even though some were written almost forty years ago.”
Watson went on to outline her own vision for the future of feminism, addressing the fact that so many women today shy away from proudly wearing the label of ‘feminist’.
“People have asked me what the feminist movement needs to succeed. A new word? More men involved?” she said. “I would rephrase the question. What obstacles need to be removed for us to succeed? In order to win our full humanity, in life, we have to confront the biggest superpower in the world: the patriarchy.”
She added: “I never liked the idea of being a rebel. I played Hermione Granger, for goodness sake, who once famously compared the notion of being expelled to death! I remember thinking my first detention was the end of the world. But of all the things to fight for, I’d say freedom and respect are pretty good ones! And if I can do it with, and in the wake of, women like Gloria, all the better. And actually, as Hermione and I learned, being disruptive was quite fun after all.
“So, have your mind blown, laugh out loud, think in new ways, get angry, feel the feminist affinity.
“This was the first collection of feminist writing Gloria ever published… I hope they become as precious to you [as they do me].”
Last year, Watson was asked to join the team behind the Unsilencing the Library project at Compton Verney Art Gallery and Park in Warwickshire, which reimagined the 1860 Women’s Library originally created by Georgiana Verney, wife of the reclusive 17th Lord Willoughby de Broke.
An enthusiastic champion of women’s reading, women’s education and ultimately, women’s suffrage, Verney designed a “mock library”: it featured a set of imitation book covers to symbolise the absence of real books available to women at that time.
As part of the project, Watson was placed in charge of a bookshelf, which she enthusiastically took to filling with her 10 essential feminist reads.
- The Argonauts – Maggie Nelson
- My Life on the Road – Gloria Steinem
- Half the Sky – Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
- The Vagina Monologues – Eve Ensler
- Persepolis: The Story of Childhood – Marjane Satrapi
- Mom & Me & Mom – Maya Angelou
- Women Who Run With Wolves – Clarissa Pinkola Estes
- The Color Purple – Alice Walker
- How to be a Woman – Caitlin Moran
- The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
You can find out more about why Watson chose these novels in particular here.