There's no question that white men dominate many of our Hollywood movies, yet there always seems to be some outrage anytime a woman takes top billing in a movie that's not a romantic comedy — or, God forbid, is a part of the Star Wars franchise. (Because only boys can enjoy movies about political unrest in space, right?) Emma Watson, a self-proclaimed feminist who believes that men need feminism in order to ensure equality on all fronts, thinks that there's a gap in what men and women can relate to on film — mostly because, well, men aren't yet used to seeing their action movies be led by ladies.
The Circle actress spoke to Marie Claire Australia about why men seem to take such issue when women are front and center of films in genres that, in the past, have been led by men. She told the magazine:
"It's something they're not used to, and they don't like that ... Anything that deviates from the norm is difficult to accept. I think if you've been used to watching characters that look like, sound like, think like you, and then you see someone [unexpected] up on the screen, you go, 'Well, that's a girl, she doesn't look like me. I want it to look like me so that I can project myself onto the character.'"
Watson's totally right, but let's be real: it's also no excuse. Women have been watching movies for decades in which the hero is another generic white dude and never thought "Hmm, I don't know, he just doesn't seem relatable because of his gender." Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford), and even Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) are as beloved by women as they are by men. Perhaps that's because women have been taught to value their male peers for their bravery, grit, and intelligence — and men were taught to value women for how well they supported men. (Or, you know... looked in a bikini.)
So: how do we solve this? Maybe by giving women the roles they've deserved for years. Bring on more Rogue One and Ghostbusters — and make sure these movies also star women of color, while we're at it. If we're going to close this empathy gap, it's time to prove what women can do.