Emma Watson identifies as a feminist, and that’s ok.

I start from a starting point of being critical of the feminist label.

I’ve written before about how I don’t identify as a feminist (amongst other things).

I don’t buy the argument that ‘feminism is simply a set of political beliefs that encompass advocating equality between the sexes’. If it were, whether one identifies as a feminist or not, wouldn’t be controversial, as it was when Meryl Streep said that she doesn’t identify as a feminist.

I would say that any argument that dismisses the personal identity aspect of the feminist label (like this Jezebel argument does) , is a No True Scotsman fallacy. 

In my experience of online dating, in particular on OKCupid (which tends to have a more political and pro-kink ambience than Tinder) it’s common to see the label feminist used, or even specific mentions that ‘I only want to date feminists’.

In one of my OKCupid profiles, I mentioned that I think there’s a cult-like pressure to conform – to adopt the feminist label. I think that attitude is reflected in the Jezebel article I mentioned.

What I’m critical of here, is the pressure to adopt the label and associated political beliefs at the expense of critical political reasoning.

So that’s my starting point – I’m critical of pressure to adopt the feminist label.

With that starting point, let’s take a step back and look at someone who arguably is the world’s most famous contemporary feminist – Emma Watson.


Emma Watson has been an outspoken proponent of feminism, notably being the UN Women Goodwill ambassador and creating a feminist book club.

Emma Watson is in a position of influence. If her statements identifying as a feminist, as well as her actions, inspire or enable women around the world to be more empowered then that’s a good thing. Emma Watson has the position of a role model – in this case encouraging women to be empowered women, which I can only see as a good thing.

I see this as the same kind of goodness as if Emma Watson spent her efforts advocating healthy eating (like Michelle Obama has done) or encouraging people to get in to tech.

If then, it’s ok for Emma Watson to identify as a feminist – I don’t think it’s any different for a woman on OKCupid. A woman on OKCupid identifying as a feminist may either empower other women reading her profile, or influence men reading her profile to respect empowered women.

I’m still critical of dogmatic feminist attitudes, but sending loud feminist social signals, in itself, I don’t think is a bad thing.

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