Harry Potter star Emma Watson spent Thursday hiding copies of Margaret Atwood’s classic novel The Handmaid’s Tale across Paris to promote feminism.
“I’m hiding copies all over Paris!” the actor best known for playing Hermione Granger told us.
Atwood’s 1985 novel — which has now been turned into a hit television series starring Elisabeth Moss of Mad Men fame — is about a dystopian world where women are reduced to being the child-bearing slaves of male masters.
The British actress — a goodwill ambassador for the UN on women’s rights — left about 200 copies of the book in various spots across the French capital. Watson, 27, set up the feminist reading group Our Shared Shelf last year which has now nearly 200,000 members.
She carried out a similar exercise across the Channel in November, leaving copies of Maya Angelou’s memoir Mom & Me & Mom on the London Underground, and in New York in March.
The idea is that readers might chance upon the books and be inspired by them. To make sure all the books are found, the Book Fairies group has been leaving clues as to where the copies were left.
Beware the danger of Feminism Lite. It is the idea of conditional female equality. Please reject this entirely. It is a hollow, appeasing and bankrupt idea. Being a feminist is like being pregnant. You either are or you are not. You either believe in the full equality of men and women, or you do not.
Feminism Lite uses analogies like “He is the head and you are the neck.” Or, “He is driving but you are in the front seat.” More troubling is the idea, in Feminism Lite, that men are naturally superior but should be expected to “treat women well.” No. No. No. There must be more than male benevolence as the basis for a women’s well-being.
Feminism Lite uses the language of “allowing.” Theresa May is the British prime minister, and here is how a progressive British newspaper described her husband: Phillip May is known in politics as a man who has taken a back seat and allowed his wife, Theresa, to shine.
Allowed. Now let us reverse it. Theresa May has allowed her husband to shine. Does it make sense? If Phillip May were prime minister, perhaps we might hear that his wife had “supported” him from the background, that she was “behind” him or that she’d “stood by his side,” but we would never hear that she had “allowed” him to shine.
“Allow” is a troubling word. “Allow” is about power. A husband is not a headmaster. A wife is not a schoolgirl. Permission and being allowed, when used one-sidedly — and it is nearly only used that way — should never be the language of an equal marriage. Another egregious example of Feminism Lite: men who say, “Of course a wife does not always have to do the domestic work; I did domestic work when my wife traveled.”
Our world is full of men and women who do not like powerful women. We have been so conditioned to think of power as male that a powerful woman is an aberration. And so she is policed. We ask of powerful women: Is she humble? Does she smile? Is she grateful enough? Does she have a domestic side? Questions we do not ask of powerful men, which shows that our discomfort is not with power itself, but with women. We judge powerful women more harshly than we judge powerful men. And Feminism Lite enables this.
At first glance, woman interrupted may seem like a small problem, but it reflects deeper issues of gender inequality at work and in society. Women struggle every day to get their space in the workplace and the right to express themselves. When they get there, manterrupting reduces their participation. Women want men to ask themselves: Am I doing this without even realizing it? After all, what’s the point of having more women in a meeting room if nobody hears what they have to say?