In September 2014, Emma Watson made waves when she gave a moving speech on feminism to launch the HeForShe gender equality campaign. A video of the speech went viral, sparking conversations about how to encourage men to participate in and support feminist causes.
But apparently, Watson experienced some push back prior to delivering the speech, all because of one word: feminism.
“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,” Watson said in this month’s issue of Porter magazine.
“But I thought long and hard and ultimately felt that it was just the right thing to do. If women are terrified to use the word, how on earth are men supposed to start using it?”
The “Harry Potter” actress has become a powerful feminist voice over the last few years, using her celebrity platform to spread the message of the HeForShe campaign and encourage her young fans to engage in the fight for women’s rights and gender equality.
For Watson, she said the decision to proudly use the word “feminism” and personally label herself as a feminist came from a need to assert her identity after years of being synonymous with her “Harry Potter” character Hermione Granger.
“For the first time in my life I feel like I have a sense of self that I’m comfortable with,” Watson added. “I actually do have things that I want to say and I want to be my most authentic self.”
The actress’s choice to say “feminism” stands as an important reminder that it isn’t and should not be seen as a dirty word.