She's a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador
Joining the ranks of Audrey Hepburn, Mia Farrow and Susan Sarandon, Emma was made a Goodwill Ambassador by the United Nations in July 2014. After the actress announced her new U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador role on Twitter, her fans proceeded to crash the organization's site. Proving that Emma is a prime candidate to bring the fight for women’s rights to the forefront of a new generation.
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She's Bringing Back the F Word
For many, “feminism” has become a dirty word, conjuring up notions of man-hating, aggressiveness and isolation. Emma even admitted that she was encouraged not to use such a hot-button term in her landmark speech. “I was encouraged not to use the word ‘feminism’ because people felt that it was alienating and separating and the whole idea of the speech was to include as many people as possible,” she detailed to Porter magazine. But Emma has made it part of her mission to reclaim the powerful feminist moniker. “Men think it’s a women’s word, that it’s only for women, but it really just means that you believe in equality and if you stand for equality, then you’re a feminist. Sorry to tell you. You’re a feminist. You’re a feminist. That’s it,” she told attendees at her Facebook Q&A.
She Gives Great Speeches
She didn’t just shine during her speech announcing the HeForShe campaign. Emma has continued to showcase her oratory skills at the Davos World Economic Forum and at a Q&A at Facebook Headquarters in London. Her eloquence is often tempered by a straightforward candor, making her statements all the more impactful. Like when she explained how gender inequality affects us all: “I think the impact of gender inequality and how it’s actually been affecting men hasn’t really been addressed... I think also our society in general devalues the ‘she’ and when I say that, I mean qualities that are associated with the feminine, which are found in all of us. As a result, there’s kind of this imbalance and this distortion and it’s just hindering our progress.”
She's Not Afraid to Share Her Own Struggles
In an effort to make the fight for gender equality more tangible, Emma often shares her own struggles with the ongoing issue. In her epic HeForShe speech, she revealed, “I started questioning gender-based assumptions a long time ago. When I was 8, I was confused at being called bossy because I wanted to direct the plays that we would put on for our parents — but the boys were not. When at 14 I started to be sexualized by certain elements of the media. When at 15 my girlfriends started dropping out of their beloved sports teams because they didn’t want to appear muscly. When at 18 my male friends were unable to express their feelings.”
She also addresses sexism in Hollywood head–on. "I have experienced sexism in that I have been directed by male directors 17 times and only twice by women. Of the producers I’ve worked with 13 have been male and only one has been a woman," she reported to The Guardian. And when there was a threat to release nude photos of the star, Emma raged against the threat and became even more determined to press ahead with her cause. “So, if anything, actually if they were trying to put me off it, they did the opposite," the actress stated.
She Doesn't Just Call Out Men
While she first caught the world’s collective ear advocating for the HeForShe campaign, Emma doesn’t just put the onus on men for the current state of women’s rights. “It’s an equality club, for both genders. It’s about men coming in support of women and women coming in support of men,” she testified. "A lot of the criticism I've ever had in my life, some of the harshest moments of criticism or some of the hardest moments I’ve had have been comments from other women. It's not just enough to ask men to come in and support us, we need to support each other.”
She Tackles the Tough Issues
Instead of shying away from what may be deemed controversial issues, Emma isn’t afraid to address sometimes taboo topics. In a dialogue with celebrated feminist Gloria Steinem, she pointed out that we "should be creating lots of awesome, great alternatives to pornography." The end goal being to craft alternatives where women are empowered instead of objectified.
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She's All for Being a Fashionable Feminist
Think that being a feminist means you can’t love fashion? Think again. "I think using fashion as a means of expression is brilliant," Emma declared. She’s all about wearing clothes that make her feel good instead of just looking good, however. "When I was younger I remember being told ‘no pain no gain,’ but recently my willingness to wear something that makes me freezing cold or that I can’t walk in has changed. I want to feel fabulous and comfortable and sexy and strong and beautiful. And if it’s making you uncomfortable, don’t do it... Moving forward, I’m prioritizing just feeling awesome." Emma also pointed out that she’s always had an interest in fair-trade fashion: "Because so many women design and make the clothes we wear, it’s primarily the working conditions of women that are affected by the decisions we make, so fashion is a feminist issue."
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She Played Hermione Granger
Emma’s role as intelligent and empathetic witch Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter films has left a marked impression on a whole generation. And let’s face it, Harry and Ron Weasley would have been in a whole lot of trouble without her help. The actress embraced the character, both her attributes and her perceived flaws, like Hermione’s know-it-all nature and sense of insecurity. This multidimensional portrayal won Emma legions of fans, though the star admits to spending many years trying to disassociate from the fictional heroine. “I feel as though I spent a long time trying to pretend I was not like Hermione. And, of course, I was rather like Hermione,” she proclaimed.
She Started a Book Club
Taking a page out of Oprah’s playbook, Emma started a feminist book club earlier this year. Dubbed Our Shared Shelf, the club’s first book selection was My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem. It even managed to lure in a few famous faces to its folds, including Karlie Kloss, Sophia Bush, Maria Sharapova and soccer player Abby Wambach.
She's Got Her Priorities Straight
And if you think this whole focus on feminism is simply a side project for the British star, you couldn’t be more wrong. The actress turned activist just announced last month that she’s taking a year-long break from acting to focus on her quest for gender equality.
Over the years, actress Emma Watson has won praise for her performances as well as her fashion sense. But it’s her latest turn as a champion for gender equality that has been perhaps her biggest achievement. Emma captured the world’s attention back in September 2014 with a stirring speech kicking off the HeForShe campaign, which encourages men and boys to be advocates for girls and women worldwide. That was only the beginning, though. Since that watershed moment, Emma has traveled the globe speaking out about empowering women and banishing gender stereotypes, proving just how dedicated she is to the cause. Here are the top 10 reasons the star is officially the new face of feminism.