GoT's Maisie Williams Not Having Emma Watson's 'First-World Feminism'


Maisie Williams, Game of Thrones‘ Arya and prolific/excellent user of social media, has greeted Emma Watson’s now-famous feminism speech at the UN with some skepticism. In a new profile at The Guardian, Williams declares herself a feminist but that she is “impatient” (The Guardian’s word) with “first-world feminism” (Williams’ words).

The full paragraph:

Williams is a feminist, though it’s not an issue high on her agenda. “There are creepy things that people say online that I shouldn’t have to read,” she explains, “but there are bigger things going on in other countries.” We talk about actor Emma Watson’s recent UN speech, in which she talked about her reasons for becoming a feminist, and the need for men to be onside; Williams says she is impatient with this kind of “first-world feminism”. “A lot of what Emma Watson spoke about, I just think, ‘that doesn’t bother me’. I know things aren’t perfect for women in the UK and in America, but there are women in the rest of the world who have it far worse.”

Before we start the Williams/Watson #beef wars of 2014, let it be known that this seems like a fragment of a thought, and that it was also a fragment of a profile that also discussed the causes the 17-year-old fights for, including breast cancer awareness and cyber abuse, two things she with which she has personal experience (her mother had breast cancer).

However, the sentiment is worth parsing. At Vanity Fair, Joanna Robinson makes the good point that speeches like Watson’s, which spell out the fundamental basics of feminism, are still “quite necessary,” and that just because they are coming from a rich white woman doesn’t invalidate them:

But what Williams and Watson’s detractors have created here is a false equivalency. To praise Watson and her message isn’t to detract from other, more diverse feminist messengers like Beyoncé, Laverne Cox, or Malala Yousafzai. And to address issues at home, isn’t to ignore the women’s rights movement abroad.

This is true. However, there is also a faction of women, especially of color, who feel alienated from traditional white/wealthy/Western feminism because of the way some of those messages are delivered, who they omit and who, institutionally, gets to deliver them. This is not to say that Watson’s speech did that—she was, in fact, laying the groundwork for feminism to be known as, simply, gender equality. And perhaps a perceived lack of intersectionality is not exactly what Williams was getting at (as a white/presumably wealthy woman herself) but it is a point worth bearing. Either way, good to hear both of these young women identifying as feminist, and also that we are slightly closer to the return of Game of Thrones.

Image via Getty.

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