by Julie Bindel
Tuesday, 11
August 2020
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07:00

Emma Watson, accidental Thatcherite

Not all women can empower themselves to be Prime Minister...
by Julie Bindel
Emma Watson (L) and ECB President Christine Lagarde (R) in 2016. Credit: Vanity Fair

Emma Watson has form when it comes to making stupid comments about feminism. Founder of the #heforshe hashtag in which she implored men to support women in our quest for liberation, the campaign fell as flat as my lockdown sourdough, and made about as much difference as did David Cameron wearing a ‘This is what A feminist looks like’ t shirt.

But Watson has now excelled herself. In true wishy-washy liberal style, she has decided that the real face of feminism is ‘choice’. That’s right, the privileged young woman who sailed through life being able to choose a top-notch education and acting school has come up with a brilliant idea for women’s emancipation: we can choose our way out of our oppression.

If you want to run for Prime Minister, you can. If you don’t, that’s wonderful, too. Shave your armpits, don’t shave them, wear flats one day, heels the next; We want to empower women to do exactly what they want.
- Emma Watson

Empowerment. That’s right girls, come on! Forget that you live with your three under-fives on the 11th floor of a tower block and no working lift. Don’t worry that you are claiming benefits because you have no childcare. If you want to, just go and run for prime minister. You can, remember!

And if the idea of public office feels too cumbersome, turn your attention to your armpits. To shave or not to shave? Your choice, ladies. Get those high heels out and trot up and down your council estate in them, but carry your flats in case you meet a rapist and need to run away. You can do exactly what you want, and never let anyone tell you otherwise.

Those with power never talk about ’empowerment’ in relation to themselves. They don’t need to. It’s only ever applied to those without it. Watson showed her true colours when betraying the most disenfranchised women, such as those in prison, domestic violence refuges or hospital wards which she declared that ‘trans-women are women’ in response to JK Rowling critiquing extreme transgender ideology.

The kind of choice feminism Watson spouts has its roots in the most privileged ideology imaginable. It is not dissimilar to Margaret Thatcher’s ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps’ attitude, and shows absolutely zero awareness of the constraints of so many women’s lives. In the same way that she thinks men can identify themselves into being women, she somehow thinks that women with nothing can ’empower’ themselves to become world leaders.

That might have been how it worked for Watson, but that’s not feminism. It’s neoliberal nonsense which would have us believe that the individual and his/her rights are paramount. In order to achieve liberation, women need to fight for the rights of those from the bottom of the pile first, way before we tell girls the lie that anyone can end up Prime Minister. Our society is built on inequality, and no amount of ‘empowerment’ talk can change that.

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  • A decent article right up to the end. Yes Emma Watson is a silly little girl who never really grew up because she was shielded from the harsher reality of life.

    Then “Our society is built on inequality”.

    Our biology is built on inequality there are things women can do better than men and vice versa. There is one thing women can do which men cannot – give birth. Whilst there are a few stay at home dads they are very much in the minority because maternal instinct makes women want to have the extra closeness with their children. That comes with a downside. We have had 2 female prime minsters (in my view one of the best until she became a bit deranged and stopped listening and one of the worst). There are successful women in all walks of life, but they have generally had to sacrifice elements of woman hood to get there and many women do not choose to make those sacrifices. There is a very level playing field these days – I agree that has not always been the case, however women these days should stop playing the victim and get out there on that level playing field and compete, especially where their biology gives them advantages.

  • I would argue though, that modern feminism is as a result of feminists discovering that they cannot compete with men on the “level playing field” they have now. Throughout history women have used strategies and manipulation to gain power (unless they had armies of men to fight for them) because of this fact.

    That is why modern feminism’s weapons of choice are ‘the patriarchy’, ‘toxic masculinity’ and ‘the gender pay gap’ myths. The aims of which are to cause Guilt primarily, resulting in either a willingness on the part of men to step aside peacefully, or public opprobrium to force men out of the way, or the support of some other men to fight on feminist’s behalf.

    Seems devious but almost always unconscious/instinctive I think. It seems to be a response to both their newly acquired autonomy + insecurity as a result of the demands ‘equality’ now makes of them.

  • In fairness to them, they are trying to host a broad range of writers, especially those who have been no-platformed elsewhere, for which credit. I don’t have any objection to having my preconceptions challenged by intelligent people who disagree with me.

    The problem is that among those they are also hosting writers such as Bindel who rarely have anything accurate or useful to say. Still, it is probably worth allowing in chaff like this in order to read quality content from other writers.

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