For the past few years, Emma Watson has used her fame and platform to promote feminism and advocate gender equality.
In 2014 she was appointed as a UN ambassador and launched the UN’s HeForShe campaign, which aimed to engage men in the process of achieving gender equality. At the time she gave an inspiring speech on the matter.
Last week, Watson returned to the UN headquarters in New York to deliver a speech aiming to advocate for equality at universities, as well as to address the subject of sexual assault on campuses.
It’s something that has rightly been pushed to the fore of public consciousness after multi-award-winning documentary The Hunting Ground and, of course, the unforgettable and powerful letter written by Brock Turner’s sexual assault victim.
Emma’s speech focused on the need to eradicate double standards at universities and empower women to achieve success.
What if we’re told, as is the case in many universities, that sexual violence isn’t actually a form of violence? We know that if you change students’ experiences so that they have different expectations of the world around them — expectations of equality — society will change. As we leave home for the first time to study at the places that we have worked so hard to get, we must not see or experience double standards. We need to see equal respect, leadership, and pay.
She went on to implore universities to prioritise the safety of women – and to take action against sexual violence.
We must make it clear that the safety of women, minorities, and anyone who may be vulnerable is a right and not a privilege — a right that will be respected by a community that believes and supports survivors, and that recognizes that when one person’s safety is violated, everyone feels their own safety is violated. University should be a refuge – a place that takes action on all forms of violence.
However, despite this rousing speech on such an important topic, The Sun published a column by Rod Liddle that dismissed her words and mocked her abilities – only exemplifying the sexism Watson has been fighting to overturn.
The piece began by saying that Emma “bored everyone rigid” with “whining crap”.
Hermione Granger has been addressing the United Nations General Assembly. Nope, not kidding. The actress, Emma Watson, is a UN “Goodwill Ambassador.” What’s that, when it’s at home? I haven’t a clue. Anyway, instead of telling them all the rules of quidditch or how to turn someone into a frog, she bored them all rigid with whining, leftie, PC crap. Just like all actresses do if people are stupid enough to give them the chance.
He continued by asking why we take celebrities’ views seriously, and concluded with a swipe at Angelina Jolie, too.
Why do we indulge these luvvie slebs, most of whom know nowt? I don’t object to them having views and expressing them. I just don’t understand why we take them seriously. I suppose they got Emma in because Angelina Jolie is a bit tied up at the moment.
Unsurprisingly, people were outraged by the piece.
Not that The Sun haven’t done utterly deplorable things in the past, but the Emma Watson comments are despicable. Sinking lower by the day
— Rebecca (@RebeccaKnight01)
The fight for gender equality should be supported and celebrated, not dismissed by poor and offensive journalism. https://t.co/tP3LfFofEl
— Katie Rebecca Hunter (@KatieHunter23)
And called the comments “disgusting”.
@RodLiddle your ‘column’ (& I use the term v.loosely) in the Sun paper about Emma Watson was absolutely disgusting.
— Sarah Grimes (@GrimesySarah)
@TheSun is about as shit a ‘newspaper’ as anyone could imagine but this is low, even by their standard. https://t.co/fqDawdstQK
— Mr Watchtower (@ApostateAwake)
Others made the point that the piece was also offensive to victims of sexual assault.
Whining bullshit ofc until it happens to you. Not even close to a joke when it does. https://t.co/17vRnJd92Y
— Dot O (@dwu_22)
And some said that dismissing her comments as “whining crap” and only mentioning “actresses” were reflections of a sexist society.
Watson has responded in perhaps the best way possible – by not referencing the article, but instead sharing a video from her latest campaign for gender equality.
Excited to show you this small film I helped make. Hope it gets you going! #Hurdles #GenderEqualityTogether 💪… https://t.co/jlLTsDHqJp
— Emma Watson (@EmWatson)