‘Esquire’ interviews Emma Watson!

Mar 10, 2016

Posted by: Emma Pocock

News, Watson, Watson Interviews

After revealing the cover of the Men and Women issue of Esquire magazine for April 2016 (also featuring Tom Hanks), Emma Watson sat down with them to talk men, women and Feminism.

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Just in case you haven’t been keeping up with her movements, Emma Watson has been helping run the HeForShe campaign since becoming UN Women Global Goodwill Ambassador in 2014. She’s had backlash for it, but she’s also had a lot of support. Her Feminist book club has been a raving success, and gradually the discussion about how gender equality impacts us all is opening up, allowing the discussion to move to interesting, more inclusive places.

Emma Watson’s discussion with bell hooks on taking a break from acting to focus on activism in 2016 has been met with Emma launching HeForShe Arts Week for International Women’s Week this week (which you can read more about here).

Now, about to star in The Circle with Tom Hanks, and disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast, Emma Watson sure has a lot to talk about – and Esquire covered it all!

On why she thought Tom Hanks was important to the HeForShe movement:

‘Esquire: Why were you keen to have Tom Hanks involved in the HeForShe campaign and to appear with you on the Esquire cover?

Emma Watson: Having him on the cover is making me seriously proud. Not just because of who he is as an actor, but because I respect him as a man. He is one of those rare Hollywood types who are authentic. He is who he says he is. 

If you look at his career, a lot of his biggest movies — BigA League of Their OwnSleepless in Seattle — have been with female directors. And also there’s something about the way he talks about issues, whether it be gay rights, Aids, environmental issues, children or the work he does with veterans, he speaks with such a humble grace and a credible voice. 

He’s informed but he has a realness about him which people really respond to and it’s why they keep going to see his movies years and years after. Anyway, I’ll stop gushing, it’s boring.’

After being asked about women’s success in comparison to men in the film industry, Emma Watson said things are ‘opening up a bit’ for actresses, but only 7% of directors [on the 250 top-grossing films] were women in 2014, and less than 1.3 [per cent] minority women, and only 11 per cent were written by women, according to the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film.

When asked if she thought actresses such as Charlize Theron speaking up about gender wage gaps in the industry were symbolic of a tipping point, Emma also reminded us that it took the Sony hack for Jennifer Lawrence to speak out in the same way, and that it’s a lot more complicated than just speaking out and demanding to be treated equally:

‘We are not supposed to talk about money, because people will think you’re “difficult” or a “diva”. But there’s a willingness now to be like, “Fine. Call me a ‘diva’, call me a ‘feminazi’, call me ‘difficult’, call me a “First World feminist’, call me whatever you want, it’s not going to stop me from trying to do the right thing and make sure that the right thing happens.” Because it doesn’t just affect me, it affects all the other women who are in this with me, and it affects all the other men who are in this with me, too. 

Hollywood is just a small piece of a gigantic puzzle but it’s in the spotlight. Whether you are a woman on a tea plantation in Kenya, or a stockbroker on Wall Street, or a Hollywood actress, no one is being paid equally.’

Why should men be Feminists if Feminism is just for women? It is called Fem-inism, after all? Emma quotes bell hooks, saying “Patriarchy has no gender.”.

Inequality and sexism are important for everybody, and so pervasive, Emma admits that she even trips up in small ways occasionally (saying things like “Man up!”, for example), but she reminds us that it’s not about creating adversity and conflict, it’s about being understanding and heading towards a common goal to educate each other about gender inequality:

‘Gloria Steinem says feminism isn’t about being perfect. [US writer] Rebecca Solnit says it’s not about being puritanical. We aren’t expecting men to be gender experts, just engaged and conscientious.’

And when asked more specifically about the benefits to men:

ESQ: What are the benefits for men in greater gender equality?

EW: I think it’s important to note that it’s not about us convincing you that gender equality is worth engaging in only because there might be something in it for you. Or in it for your sister or your mother. 

The question is, what’s in it for humans? Martin Luther King said injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. I really do believe that. And the benefits on top of that? Happier, healthier, more successful children? Being able to take proper paternity leave and see your baby? Being able to talk to someone if you’re feeling shit? Actually getting to be yourself? Getting asked out by a woman? Better sex? A marriage that is a true partnership? More diverse and interesting perspectives in art, culture, business and politics? Getting to crowdsource all the innovation and genius in the world, not just half of it. A highly increased number of safe, confident and fulfilled people on the planet, particularly women? World peace? Seriously. World peace!

When asked what she’d like to come of this movement:

‘There’s no point in me going, “You all have to go away from having read this article and decide that you are a feminist.” That’s useless. The only thing that is going to make a difference is if men go away and speak to the women in their lives about what they are experiencing.

Ask the question. Go to the pub with the women in your life and just listen and then see how that makes you feel and see how that engages you. And if it does, then I hope that when you’re confronted with a situation where you can do something, even if it’s as simple as just saying, “I’m not sure I’m comfortable with that…”, then taking that action is what makes a feminist.

Whether you identify or use the word or whatever is not the important thing. It’s how you choose to act.’

Talking about the pervasiveness of sexism:

ESQ: You’ve been very famous from a very young age. Hasn’t your experience of sexism been different from other women’s?

EW: I’ve had my a*** slapped as I’ve left a room. I’ve felt scared walking home. I’ve had people following me. I don’t talk about these experiences much, because coming from me they’ll sound like a huge deal and I don’t want this to be about me, but most women I know have experienced it and worse… this is unfortunately how it is. 

It’s so much more pervasive than we acknowledge. It shouldn’t be an acceptable fact of life that women should be afraid.

And finally, on her break from acting:

ESQ: You’re taking time off from acting now to focus on HeForShe full-time. Was that a hard decision?

EW: This is the most fun I’ve ever had. It’s so awesome to be at the forefront of that wave and that energy and just being able to channel that which I found mildly horrifying — all of the crazy attention on me — and doing something good with it, it just feels like I’m really doing what I’m meant to be doing.

Make sure you read the full article here, and catch the Men and Women issue soon!

The Leaky Cauldron is not associated with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any of the individuals or companies associated with producing and publishing Harry Potter books and films.