XOJane's Olivia Cole did a pretty good write-up of the differences between responses to Emma Watson's self-declared feminism, and Beyoncé's self-declared feminism.
I apologize if this has already been posted!
Apparently a lot of feminists really approve of Watson acting as a leader in feminism, and really, really, really disapprove of Beyoncé.
"That's feminism," I've seen it tweeted over and over since Saturday. "Not a neon sign and spandex." The digs at Beyoncé got louder and bolder. One of the tweets that started it all (by a Twitter user who has now made her account private, @sandyzzzen) read: "Well done Emma Watson. THAT is feminism (watch and learn Beyoncé)." And it wasn't just random Internet users. Vanity Fair wrote an article praising Watson and comparing her feminist impact to Beyoncé's, stating, "[Watson's] widespread influence on young minds (still forming their opinions on gender roles and advocacy) is even stronger than other high-profile defenders of the F-word like Beyoncé."
When Beyoncé dropped Beyoncé last year, accompanied by a corresponding collection of music videos, the think pieces flew fast and thick. "Is Beyoncé a feminist?" "OK, but is Beyoncé actually a feminist?" The speculation was endless, despite the fact that Beyoncé was self-identifying, answering the question before it was even asked. But somehow many mainstream publications still thought that their opinion on Beyoncé's feminism overrode her own identification.
It's not difficult to see some glaring issues, here. Watson dresses conservatively, speaks calmly and slowly to a room full of men, gently explaining the very basics of feminism and why it is important and, *most* importantly, how it can help men. There's a stark contrast between that and Beyoncé's sexually liberated, in-your-face, loud-and-proud feminism.
There is also room for both of them in the world; it's clear to me why Beyoncé gets extra scrutiny, though. Big sadface. Racial undertones aside, there is no greater threat to feminism than feminists eating our own. Regarding treatment of Watson vs Beyoncé:
No angle was left uncovered. The responses ranged from "Maybe because Emma actually dresses like a lady!" to "Maybe because Emma has a college degree!" "Maybe because Emma didn't dedicate an album to her husband and take his last name!" "Maybe because Emma doesn't gyrate on stage!" "Maybe because Emma included men in her argument!" Don't believe me? Look on Twitter. These tweets aren't hard to find.
For the record, none of this is a criticism of Watson, on my part. I recognize the importance of that speech, even if it was Feminism 101 and a little "But what about teh Menz?" Today, particularly in the US, when people think feminism isn't necessary, maybe it takes this basic 'splaining to get back on people's radar.
I have been thinking about this "conflict" a lot over the last week. Thanks to a lot of the education I've received from the kind and patient people of color here on GT, the criticism of Beyoncé (at the beginning of her declaration, and now) instantly registered as racism to me from the second I saw it. As soon as I saw the unwavering support of Watson while CONTRASTING her with Beyoncé, I saw it even more clearly.
As Cole states, at its core, it's extremely anti-feminist to hold Beyoncé to this arbitrary set of standards so that she can measure up and be the very thing she loudly declares herself to be; it's extremely racist to reject Beyoncé's brand of feminism in exchange for Watson's. Just because Beyoncé isn't YOUR type of feminist, doesn't mean she isn't speaking to other women who are on another page than you.
Personally, I am more *comfortable* with Watson's feminism - because it is comforting. It is easy to digest and causes little heated debate in a diverse room full of people. But it's not about comfort; I can recognize that while I may rest easier using Watson to educate the masses, Beyoncé's role doesn't have to be the same. She, like you and I, can be her own type of feminist.
There are so many layers to this, I'd love to discuss.