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Maisie Williams: “People who aren’t feminist are sexist”

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Moya Crockett
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Maisie Williams has spoken candidly about feminism in the past. Now the 18-year-old Game of Thrones actress has called for the term to be retired, saying that people should be defined by not believing in equality rather than the other way around.

“We should stop calling feminists ‘feminists’ and just start calling people who aren’t feminist ‘sexist’ – and then everyone else is just a human,” she told EW in an interview. “You are either a normal person or a sexist. People get a label when they're bad.”

The Bristol-born actress, who was just 12 when she was cast as Arya Stark in the first season of Game of Thrones, says that she was asked whether Arya was a feminist in one of her first ever interviews. “I didn’t even know what a feminist was. And then someone explained it to me. And I remember thinking, ‘Isn’t that just like everyone?’ And then I realized everyone is not a feminist, unfortunately.”

Williams has always been open about her feminist beliefs. In December 2014, she told The Guardian that she was impatient with Emma Watson's brand of “first-world feminism”, saying: “I know things aren’t perfect for women in the UK and in America, but there are women in the rest of the world who have it far worse.”

Arya Stark

Maisie Williams takes no prisoners as Arya Stark in Game of Thrones. Picture: HBO

At a conference in New York in July 2015, she told the audience that “it's time for society to stop telling girls what they should and shouldn't do” and urged girls to be confident, adding: “Fight for yours, grab it with both hands and hold it like the course of your future depends on it. Because it does.”

But in her interview with EW, she said that she sometimes worries about speaking out for fear of being criticised by other feminists.

“I sometimes really worry about speaking up about feminist subjects out of fear of being bashed by women on social media. And there’s something not right there," she said. “Yeah, sometimes it’s men too. But there are women who are just nasty. I’m trying to do the best I can. I got a voice. I believe in equality and I know I have more power than the average person to reach people. And I just get petrified in case people are rude.”

Williams added that male directors often talk down to her when she meets them to discuss potential projects. “They’re all, ‘Have you seen this film?’ And before you’ve even said ‘No,’ they’re like, ‘Probably not, it’s really great.’”

The creators of Game of Thrones have faced criticism in the past for how women are depicted in the show. Williams told EW that the issue is a source of “constant debate” on set, but said that she believes that the show is balanced in its treatment of men and women. “Women are treated badly on the show, and they’re treated well on the show. But it’s the same as the boys and the girls and the men and the animals. The themes are very dark.”

Picture: Rex Features

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Moya Crockett

Moya is Women’s Editor at stylist.co.uk, where she is currently overseeing the Visible Women campaign. As well as writing about inspiring women and feminism, she also covers subjects including careers, podcasts and politics. Carrying a tiny bottle of hot sauce on her person at all times is one of the many traits she shares with both Beyoncé and Hillary Clinton.

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