In a recent interview for Paper magazine's "Girl Crush" series, feminist author bell hooks and actress Emma Watson show that being a feminist doesn't mean you have to be 100 percent serious at every single moment.
In addition to revealing that they're big fans of each other's work, hooks and Watson talk about their experiences with feminism and letting go of stereotypes, especially the one that feminism can't be fun.
Watson said hooks became her "girl crush" after reading hooks's work while also enjoying her sense of humor in videos of her talks at the New School in 2014.
Embracing humor may seem like a small thing, but hooks uses Watson's observation to expand on why that perception is so inaccurate to the work of feminism:
hooks: That’s a pretty big stereotype about feminists, that we’re not fun, that we don’t have a sense of humor and that everything is so serious and politically correct. Humor is essential to working with difficult subjects: race, gender, class, sexuality. If you can’t laugh at yourself and be with others in laughter, you really cannot create meaningful social change.
In fact, for hooks, fun is necessary for feminists to have a well-balanced life:
Sometimes it’s hard to recruit people to forms of activism for justice and ending domination because they think that there won’t be any time left for fun. Everyone needs to have a balanced life. Being balanced is crucial, because it helps us not to over-extend or to try to live up to other people’s expectations in ways that leave you feeling empty.
You don't have to be a perfectionist to be a feminist
As two major public figures, hooks and Watson are well aware of public scrutiny, especially in the age of social media. They are always in the public eye, but they use that to discuss why being the perfect feminist isn't necessarily possible.
Watson has used public scrutiny to hold herself accountable to being the best feminist she can be while also making space for her own growth:
Yeah, I feel I have to be quite vigilant. It’s made me sad at times. I feel that fear of am I looking at this from all of the angles, how can this be interpreted, how can it be taken out of context? But I do have a lot to learn and I should be wary.
And hooks's experience with having her words misinterpreted on social media has made her become less attached to treating feminism like an ideal:
The New School conversations catapulted me into social media in a way. It was both on one hand exciting but on the other hand you’re more subject to people misinterpreting what you say. And that was something that I had to accept. In a way, especially for females, too, you have to get over any kind of attachment to perfectionism. Or to being liked by everybody all the time, or understood by everybody all the time.
For hooks and Watson, feminism is something you grow into. And the best part about being a feminist is knowing that feminism isn't meant to be one size fits all.
Read the full Paper interview here.