Monthly Archives: September 2014

Emma Watson and the B-word


What did you think I meant? 😉

Anyway, if you’re here, you’ve probably seen my column on Emma Watson, #HeForShe, and my proposed alternative — #SheAndHeForUs (or #HeAndSheForUs).

A quick side note:

I appreciate that in her U.N. speech, Watson emphasized that she has never been “oppressed” or treated as a lesser person because of her gender. She did, however, make this claim:

I started questioning gender-based assumptions when at eight I was confused at being called “bossy,” because I wanted to direct the plays we would put on for our parents—but the boys were not.
Is it very uncharitable for me to doubt this story? It just seems too conveniently tied to Sheryl Sandberg’s recent “Ban Bossy” campaign. And honestly, given how commonly girls are found in leadership roles at school in recent years, I find it hard to believe that a girl would get negative pushback just for wanting to direct school plays. One possibility is that it was something about Watson’s personality. Another is that whatever happened back then is now perceived by her through the prism of the recent campaign to reframe “bossy” as an antifemale slur.
Tangential evidence supporting my doubts:
In the past, Watson has repeatedly used the b-word to refer to her Harry Potter character, Hermione Granger. At the age of 11, when she first started playing Hermione, she told Entertainment Weekly, “I reckon she’s very, very bossy.” Sometime later (I haven’t been able to find the original source of the quote, but it’s posted on this fan page which was made in 2004 when Watson was 14), she said in one of her interviews, “Now that I’ve played the snotty, bossy, posh Hermione Granger, I’d like to play some American high school girl. I want to play something totally different.”
Somehow I think that if Watson had actually found it hurtful to be called “bossy” at eight, she wouldn’t be using the word to describe her film character a few years later. Again, I don’t think she’s making it up — I just think she’s processing it through her perspective as a 24-year-old feminist.
(Comments are open but filtered. Any comments bashing either gender collectively, or containing personal abuse toward any individual including Emma Watson, will remain forever in limbo.)


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Russia, Ukraine, and fascism revisited

The idea that the pro-Western Ukrainian government is actually some kind of front for neo-fascist/neo-Nazi forces of darkness has been assiduously flogged by the Russian propaganda machine from the start of the conflict and has also been flogged by the Putin regime’s Western supporters. It still has currency on fringe anti-Western sites, partly aided by the fact that there really are some unsavory, ultranationalist, and in some cases neo-Nazi elements among the paramilitary groups involved in the Ukrainian government’s military operation against the insurgency. (Needless to say, the insurgency and the need to fight it helps empower those marginal elements.)

Of course, the people who profess to be very concerned with the fascist problem in Ukraine tend to ignore the well-documented involvement of Russian ultranationalists, neo-fascists, and neo-Nazis in the pro-Russian insurgency in Eastern Ukraine. I’ve written on this issue more than once.

And now the latest: Pavel Gubarev, the former “People’s Governor” of Donetsk and one of the earliest separatist leaders to gain prominence, bragged on his Facebook page the other day about a “real Italian fascist” joining the rebel cause to fight against “the wrong kind of Nazis — the pro-American ones.” Gubarev himself is, as I have written, a longstanding member of Russia’s neo-Nazi “Russian National Unity” movement, which has a lovely logo and equally lovely uniforms:

Anyway,, an independent Russian online magazine, interviewed Gubarev a few days ago about a lot of issues related to the insurgency, including the “real Italian fascist.” There’s a write-up in Moscow News, but that part of the interview is so darkly hilarious it deserves to be reproduced in full.

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Filed under Russia, Russian fascism, Ukraine