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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T Doyle
T Doyle
2 years ago

Foolish comparison to Thatcher. I am from a rough council estate working class background and as school leaver at the height of Thatcher’s reign her message of self reliance didn’t always go down well. Looking back she was right. We need a can do culture. Watson’s utterances are totally bizarre and reflect on just another out of touch celeb. Bindel’s hatred of Thatcher is misplaced here.

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
2 years ago
Reply to  T Doyle

I agree. The writer has no idea about Margaret Thatcher’s beliefs.

Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago

We are all “privileged” living in this country I think.
Emma Watson says foolish things, she’s been invited to say foolish things by the UN, and twitter seems to be an irresistible medium for all celebrities to share their foolishness with the world, the poor girl is doomed.

Maybe one day she will realise, take back the reins of her life and keep quiet.

Bob Green
Bob Green
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

There’s a woman dressed in dirty clothes sleeping on some sheets of cardboard next to a fast food restaurant in a Surrey town near where I live.
Not sure she’s feeling privileged.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
2 years ago
Reply to  Bob Green

She has clothing, bedding and access to (fast) food. And she’s in Surrey. She is privileged. Obviously, that’s a little glib, but a lot of these people have chosen to turn down shelters and help etc, or are members of the middle classes who have screwed up.

Giulia Khawaja
Giulia Khawaja
2 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Accidentally downvoted.

Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago
Reply to  Bob Green

Yes, there is a tiny minority of people who are in terrible trouble, but for the other 99.9% of us, we are privileged.

I hope the woman in question knows about The Salvation Army, they would definitely be able to help her, you might want to give her the address of the nearest branch.

Peter Shaw
Peter Shaw
2 years ago
Reply to  Bob Green

If she is white, she is privileged apparently

Nigel Clarke
Nigel Clarke
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

We are privileged in the UK, now. But it is only really the last 100 years or so that you could say that.
We had to work for it! And what a price we had to pay for it.

chrisjwmartin
chrisjwmartin
2 years ago

This is an odd argumentum ad hominem in that it relies on attacking not the h**o it’s ostensibly about, but a long-dead h**o. The argument runs like this:

1. Person A said x.
2. Person B said something “not dissimilar to” x.
3. Person B did things I consider evil.
4. Therefore Person A is evil for saying something similar to a thing Person B said.

The argument hinges on the premiss that anything “not dissimilar to” something said or done by Margaret Thatcher is so obviously evil that it doesn’t even require explaining why. I understand that this is a popular view in certain circles, but even for those of us who are broadly sceptical of Thatcher, it’s hard to justify such an extreme position. It is “not dissimilar to”, if I may use that phrase, someone refusing to drive on motorways because Hitler built the autobahns.

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
2 years ago

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.

Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago
Reply to  Adrian Smith

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.

Andrew D
Andrew D
2 years ago
Reply to  Adrian Smith

‘Nature has given women so much power that the law has very wisely given them little’. Dr Samuel Johnson

blanes
blanes
2 years ago

But Lagarde is obviously empowered. How many people are empowered enough to commit fraud at the IMF then be put in charge of the ECB. Now THATS empowerment.

d.reddin85
d.reddin85
2 years ago

The woman with the three under 5s did have a choice not to have children though right? I don’t normally agree with what Emma Watson says but on this occasion I don’t really see what the objection is. Okay she didn’t mention every single one of the hardships that women face in the modern world but I think this would be quite a lot to cover in one statement.

purplepatsymail
purplepatsymail
2 years ago
Reply to  d.reddin85

Indeed

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

but that’s not feminism

Who’s going to break it to Julie that – yes that is feminism. It’s always been a distinctly middle class movement, focussing on glass ceilings, boardrooms, cabinets, higher education and the rest. Not on council estates and people scraping by.

Btw – whatever Julie might think about council estates (not very much it seems) women there do actually wear high heels.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
2 years ago

The quote from Emma Watson seems to make perfect sense. This is very unusual for a luvvie, and should be applauded.

chrisjwmartin
chrisjwmartin
2 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

The quote from Emma Watson seems to make perfect sense.

Hence why La Bindel is so appalled by it.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
2 years ago
Reply to  chrisjwmartin

Exactly. It sometimes seems that UnHerd is acting as a haven for writers deemed too insane even for t’Guardian.

chrisjwmartin
chrisjwmartin
2 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

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.

chrisjwmartin
chrisjwmartin
2 years ago

Did my post about Bindel’s argumentum ad hominem against Thatcher get removed because I used the Latin word for human, as in human-sapiens or human-erectus? Good grief.

EDIT: Hours later it has finally passed moderator approval!

Gary Richmond
Gary Richmond
2 years ago

Personally, I’d have no issue with having an ‘ID Card’. As the writer states we are ‘monitored’ every single day every time we use an ATM, use our Mobile Phones, drive our cars, use contactless payment, log onto a website, read or comment on Unherd. I guess if we all really thought about it, we give our ‘permission’ to be ‘watched’ in every aspect of our lives so, what’s the difference. Has anyone ever been online and then almost immediately received an ad relating to the subject you’ve just been viewing… I understand the ‘civil liberties’ argument. But, I think that ship sailed ages ago.

purplepatsymail
purplepatsymail
2 years ago

Ourselves

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

It comes from having read Hansel and Gretel as a child.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
2 years ago

I have yet to see an image of Lagarde that is not deeply disturbing.

vmcculloch
vmcculloch
2 years ago

Young women and girls deserve better and more insightful feminism than Watson’s sloganeering. Thank you, Julie – just one point; Cameron declined to wear the T shirt (it was a publicity campaign by Elle Magazine).

chrisjwmartin
chrisjwmartin
2 years ago
Reply to  vmcculloch

Yes, it was Clegg who wore it.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  vmcculloch

I’d suggest they deserve more insight than either Watson or Bindel are providing!

Alan Girling
Alan Girling
2 years ago

I’m with those who think there’s nothing wrong with what Emma said besides its utter banality. Choice, yes. People have choices. How this gets analyzed as evidence of neo-liberal Thatcherism is beyond me. I would say the sticking point is it implies female agency, which I guess for the author and other feminists, is hard to accept. Where’s the patriarchy in her statement, after all?

authorjf
authorjf
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Girling

She is actually onto something. The word ‘choice’ is a vacuous term of art that often goes beyond the literal meaning. It is often used to imply that ‘choices’ are made in a moral and social vacuum, and are neither caused, nor do they affect other people. Remember those anti-mask protestors? ‘My body, my choice!’ In turn, this was inspired by Planned Parenthood’s original usage of the term. In both cases, ‘choices’ are uprooted from their larger social context, and taken in isolation. In fact, in the USA of today, even Planned Parenthood SUPPORTERS are turning against ‘reproductive choice,’ and speaking of ‘reproductive justice.’ Of course, within a few months or years (at most), that distinction will be purely academic over there.

Alan Girling
Alan Girling
2 years ago
Reply to  authorjf

Interesting. Knew that freedom was not the goal. ‘Justice’ as they define it is something to worry about.

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
2 years ago

There is no reason for it. We have lived with viruses all of our existence. The covipass is pure evil. It is needs to be fought and its supporters shamed. Say no to totalitarianism.

Andrew Crisp
Andrew Crisp
2 years ago
Reply to  Dennis Boylon

YES!

Basil Chamberlain
Basil Chamberlain
2 years ago

Dominique Eddé on Lebanon as microcosm of the world:

“Lebanon is both the centre of the world and a dead end. The broken little village of a planet that is sick [“¦] It would hardly be an exaggeration to say that in Lebanon, everything can be explained and nothing can be understood. All the decisions made for this country are made behind its back, and all that happens here epitomizes the rest of the world: the mix of populations, the vulnerability of borders, political lying at its worst, building the present by destroying the past, an utter lack of perspective […] We know more or less what constitutes Lebanon, but we don’t know how it works. If we had to send into space a country capable of containing the world, Lebanon would fit the bill. If we had to send one that did not contain what is needed to make a real country, Lebanon would also be the answer.”

Scott Allan
Scott Allan
2 years ago

Things are always so grim for women in Julies world, even now when they are given the choice to make of their life whatever they desire. And Emma is the devil for suggesting that each woman take responsibility for herself and her destiny.

In Julie’s world each woman lives under constant oppression from the secret patriarchy. I’ve tried to join but can’t find the clubhouse?

I was really looking forward to picking up 50 years of Male white privilege while I was there.

If anyone has directions please post them. Thanks

Lee Johnson
Lee Johnson
2 years ago

Good luck with that Monsieur.

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
2 years ago

To be empowered, someone more powerful must bestow it upon you.

purplepatsymail
purplepatsymail
2 years ago
Reply to  Brian Dorsley

To be empowered..to have the knowledge or confidence, means , to do things or make decisions for oneself

Eugene Norman
Eugene Norman
2 years ago

Which is another way of saying that to be empowered you need power.

David Barnett
David Barnett
2 years ago

It is unfortunate that the the break up of so many empires in the early to mid 20th century happened at a time when the post-Bismarckian omni-competent state was the model of governance was the rising fashion. It creates too many opportunities for “jobs for the boys” that greatly enriches ruling cliques at the expense of the masses.

The nation-state model works (or used to) after a fashion in Western Europe, but is wholly unsuited to the middle-east. For much of history, the middle-east was governed by city-states, possibly in federations, or under the loose umbrella of an empire.

With city-states, the local nature of the authority limits the scope for crony-corruption, to the same group that has to fund it.

Of course, external security threats come at different scales. To meet the largest scale threats, the cities would have to form alliances, as the did in ancient times.

We are in an era when a thorough going review of what is a state must be undertaken by all of us, because the levers of control are changing rapidly. Old levers are ceasing to work, and the emerging ones are not well understood.

Much as our ruling elites would love to restore the settlement of yesteryear, the attempt to do so will spell catastrophe. Catastrophe can only be avoided by looking forward and ceding unsupported power gracefully. Reforming the world into federations of independent city-states will stand a better chance of preserving civilisation while we discover new methods of governance for the emerging world.

Basil Chamberlain
Basil Chamberlain
2 years ago
Reply to  David Barnett

We’d have a clearer idea of whether or not the nation-state model was suited to the Middle East if the borders had been drawn in sensible places. One of the problems Lebanon has is that it was basically set up by the French to meet the demands of the Maronite Christians for as large a territory as they could lay their hands on. A nation that was basically Beirut, Byblos, Batroun, Mount Lebanon and the Chouf Mountains would have been a logical proposition, but Lebanon as we know it ended up with Tripoli (a Sunni Muslim city that logically belongs in Syria), the mostly Muslim Bekaa Valley, and the southern ports of Sidon and Tyre, Sunni- and Shia-majority respectively.

Similarly, most of Eastern Syria logically belonged with Western Iraq, not with the Levantine cities. And obviously it’s a crying shame that there’s no nation state of Kurdistan.

The global economic elite loves city states! A world of a thousand Singapores is their dream, since only large states are actually or potentially powerful enough to stand up to the forces of international capital. In any case, as you say, the city states will band together and, hey presto, you have nation states again.

What we actually need, though, in a world of unaccountable transnational capital, are accountable transnational institutions to curb and control it.

As for what Lebanon needs, heaven knows! But ending the inflexible confessional system, authorising mixed marriages and legislating so that all legal political parties be secular and trans-communal would be a start. The present system is designed to cement ethno-religious divisions.

David Barnett
David Barnett
2 years ago

The nonsensical borders were drawn with several motivations. You highlighted the French desire to maximise the territory under Maronite domination. The British wanted control of the oil in the Kurdish regions of Iraq.

But I think there was also a strategic divide and rule motivation. Countries weakened by internal divisions or security concerns, are more likely to value great power patronage, post independence. The nonsensical majority Sunni/Shia lines you noted, created internal problems. But strategic geography created external security concerns too. A good example was the a 1923 agreement between Britain and France to transfer the Golan from the mandate of Palestine to the mandate of Syria. This made no strategic-geographic sense at all, since the Golan dominates the Galilee and controls most of the sources of the Jordan.

You are right that multinationals can circumvent national governments, but I don’t think that they would be unhappy with a global authority writing regulations for their industries. They would simply capture the system (as the biggest players in nation-states do) and write complex rule-books that act as weed-killers to smaller competitors.

THe problem of appropriate governance is complicated. It is a question of which controls should be operated at which scale. Paradoxically, a world of large numbers of small political entities might be able to foster better the competition that is the ultimate discipline to commerce. Large political entities allow the political creation of large de facto monopolies.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
2 years ago

Nicola Sturgeon needs to beware,! Blaming England for her inept handling of NHS,,Education attainment,Fisheries,Drug problems…is Wearing thin…I’ll send Matthew hopkins up on next Caledonian sleeper?.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

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.

Yes because rapists are the kind of people who live on council estates. Nice one Julie. Don’t think even Maggie went that far.

authorjf
authorjf
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

You’re misunderstanding her Swiftian gallows humour. It’s the Man Camp for you my lad! Seriously though, joking aside… even I understand the point she’s making, even though anything most other feminists say (the wokies and intersectionals) tends to fly over my head completely. Julie Bindel is actually a very clear communicator and one of the very few feminists whose language is not completely infested with politically correct jargon about fat supremacism, neurodiversity, cocaine positivity and pimp pride.

Giulia Khawaja
Giulia Khawaja
2 years ago

No you’re not alone!

jonathan carter-meggs
jonathan carter-meggs
2 years ago

Social media comments ought to be irrelevant – oh I suppose that includes this one!

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
2 years ago

I am never sure why Celebrities keep spouting forth all the time with such half baked political contributions…well, I know WHY they do it but what I mean is nobody would ever pitch a Netflix series saying if we can get Francois, Corbyn and Moran it’s sure fire box office…….?

James C
James C
2 years ago

Pretty sure that is misrepresenting Emma Watson’s position. She is not saying that all women have that choice today, but rather that they should (have that choice). That someone’s behaviour (eg whether they wear heels or a hijab) is not in itself an indication of whether they are empowered – what matters is whether they are doing it because they choose to without coercion or expectation to conform to some specific norm.

I don’t (personally) think holding that aspiration is contradictory with recognising that many do not have that voice today.

hijiki7777
hijiki7777
2 years ago

Ideally someone should have asked Emma; but what about those women, because of their circumstances, do not have that choice? And she may or may not have given a sensible answer. But as the author has decided for some reason that she doesn’t like Emma Watson then it is far easier to take a quote and assume it means whatever you want in order to fit into your preferred narrative, in this case that she is a horrible Thatcherite.

authorjf
authorjf
2 years ago

The only ’empowering and liberating women’ Dave and his splendid chums ever did was bombing maternity hospitals in Libya from ten thousand feet up! Which didn’t exactly count as liberation, although that seems to be their preferred jargon; I believe the term is ‘state-sanctioned, indiscriminate mass murder.

authorjf
authorjf
2 years ago

Her hideous, demonic grin is really rather reminiscent of Hillary Clinton, who like a lot of politicians, has been ’empowering’ herself into perpetrating precisely the same vile, murderous, warmongering abominations as male politicians! Apparently, from the neoliberal perspective of the Democratic Party, ‘equality’ and ’empowerment’ mean two fingers on that little red button, and not one.