"It's not about men saving women": Emma Watson talks male feminists, nude photos and when she'll stop fighting for equality

The "Harry Potter" star and UN Goodwill Ambassador says she was "raging" after being threatened online last fall

Published March 9, 2015 1:39PM (EDT)

Emma Watson (AP)
Emma Watson (AP)

In honor of International Women's Day on Sunday, actress and UN Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson visited the Facebook offices in London for an hour-long Q&A session on her crusade for gender equality as the face of the HeForShe campaign. Watson drew widespread acclaim for her stirring speech last fall on the need for people -- especially men -- to embrace feminism, although her battle cry wasn't entirely well-received. Within hours of the speech, the "Harry Potter" star was singled out online in what turned out to be an offensive "hoax," seemingly targeted by misogynists who threatened to release her private nude photos.

"I knew it was a hoax," Watson said during the Q&A. "I knew the pictures didn’t exist—but I think a lot of people close to me knew gender equality was an issue, but they didn’t really think it was that urgent."

"When they saw that the minute I stepped up and talked about women’s rights I was immediately threatened—in less than 12 hours I was receiving threats—I think [men] were really shocked," she added. "It really just publicized something that was really, really negative. It’s funny because people went, ‘Oh, she’s going to be disheartened by this.’ If anything, it made me so much more determined. I was just raging. It made me so angry that I was just like, 'This is why I have to be doing this!'"

The star also explained her reasons for emphasizing male involvement in the feminist movement, arguing that gender equality doesn't just benefit women. "I’m really, genuinely disturbed by this idea that men can’t cry, that they just can’t express themselves, and can’t talk about how they actually feel,” Watson said. "That’s the saddest thing in the world. ... How you feel, being able to express yourself, being passionate, being emotional -- it’s what makes you human, it’s not what makes you a girl."

As for her end goals, Watson says she has no plans of backing down on her campaign until she actually sees progress. She even quantified what she hopes to see:

You're not going to get rid of me until I get to see an equal number of female prime ministers and presidents and CEOs, and more men that feel like it's okay to express how they really feel about things, and more fathers that are present in their children's lives," she said. "And until I see us all not policing and oppressing each other and not ostracizing each other. And when I live in a world where this isn't a narrowly defined definition of masculinity and femininity. I'm just not gonna go.

Watch Watson's Q&A below:

By Jenny Kutner

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