Emma Watson Almost Didn’t Say “Feminism” In Her U.N. Speech

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Emma Watson’s speech to the United Nations was a landmark moment for the mainstreaming of feminism. Speaking as part of the HeForShe campaign, Watson called out men for failing to promote feminist ideals, reclaimed the word “feminist,” and talked about taking ownership of her own body. Long story short: It was iconic. But it almost wasn’t the swaggering badass performance that we all know and love. In a recent interview with Porter, Watson talked about how close she came not to saying the F word at all. “I was encouraged not to use the word ‘feminism,'” Watson said. “People felt that it was alienating and separating and the whole idea of the speech was to include as many people as possible.” That’s disappointing but of a piece with her speech, which called for a reclaiming of the word “feminist” as a positive descriptor, she explained. “I thought long and hard and ultimately felt that it was just the right thing to do,” Watson said. “If women are terrified to use the word, how on earth are men supposed to start using it?” She’s dead right. Watson also went on to comment on how being Hermione Granger both stunted and enhanced her possibilities for personal growth. “[I’ve] spent more than half of my life pretending to be someone else,” Watson told Porter. “While my contemporaries were dyeing their hair and figuring out who they were, I was figuring out who Hermione was and how best to portray her. Now at 25, for the first time in my life I feel like I have a sense of self that I’m comfortable with. I actually do have things that I want to say and I want to be my most authentic self.” While other members of the Harry Potter cast are in the news for reasons both wholesome and not, Watson is in a league of her own.

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