When someone on Twitter asked Emma Watson, "Are you a white feminist?" they likely were not prepared for the articulate soliloquy that would follow.
Twitter's 140-character restriction doesn't lend itself to the comprehensive response Watson had to offer, so the actress typed it out on her iPhone, took a screenshot of it and affixed it to her tweet. Watson said she wants nothing short of inclusivity, and her tweet garnered more than 2,000 retweets and 5,000 favorites.
It is important to first establish the terminology employed in this exchange and wider debate. White feminism means "prioritizing the experiences and voices of cisgender, straight, white women over women of color, queer women and those who fall outside this narrow identity," Mic's Julie Zeilinger wrote. "While the problem has persisted for decades, it now has a name: 'white feminism.'"
Conversely, intersectional feminism recognizes the disparity in opportunity and experience across race, class, sexuality and gender identity, which subsequently informs the meaning and application of feminism.
Watson did not shy away from taking part in this debate. "I'm glad this question came up," she begins. "I've been thinking about it a lot."
"[I] wish to make sure other women have the same opportunities that I have," she adds. "I have spoken about intersectionality being an extremely important part of this conversation."
Watson explains she possesses the self-awareness to know how privileged and lucky she is. But she also argues that doesn't inherently preclude her from being an intersectional feminist.
In fact, Watson argues her position of privilege is one that can be harnessed to highlight marginalized voices that are otherwise excluded from the conversation: "I can't speak on behalf of intersectional feminists specifically but I can use my platform to give those that do have personal experience a spotlight."
She made a point of saying her HeForShe campaign, a collaboration with U.N. Women, does not just include the experience of all women, across races, but also men.
I have spoken about intersectionality being an extremely important part of this conversation.
White feminism "implies a willful ignorance or neglect of the issues surrounding intersectionality," she writes. "My mandate as HeForShe and women ambassador [to the U.N.] was to include men in the dialogue about gender equality."
Watson concludes by saying, for her, it is of utmost import "to hear as many voices as possible" and that she'll travel the world to do so. Awareness is a cruciality for progress when it comes to gender equality. This is, in fact, a sentiment Watson voiced in January.
The U.N. goodwill ambassador's career as an activist is perhaps too short to make any definitive statements as to the precise texture of her feminism, but one thing is for sure. Watson certainly speaks as someone who retains a comprehensive understanding of how gender inequality manifests itself in a variety of contexts.
And that in itself is doing more good than harm.