The 25-year-old actress covers the magazine’s “Women & Men” issue with Tom Hanks, and inside, the two The Circle costars speak at length about Hollywood’s wage gap, retouched magazine covers, and more gender inequality issues. Among the most important takeaways from Watson’s interview is her refusal to let critics who label her a “feminazi” stop her from speaking out about the issues that matter to her.
"We are not supposed to talk about money, because people will think you're 'difficult' or a ‘diva,’” she said. “But there's a willingness now to be like, 'Fine. Call me a 'diva', call me a 'feminazi', call me 'difficult,' call me a 'First World feminist', call me whatever you want, it's not going to stop me from trying to do the right thing and make sure that the right thing happens.
“Because it doesn't just affect me," she continued. "Whether you are a woman on a tea plantation in Kenya, or a stockbroker on Wall Street, or a Hollywood actress, no one is being paid equally."
In the past, Watson has been accused of embodying “first world feminism,” but she says that coming from a place of wealth of privilege doesn’t mean she’s shielded from the nastiness of gender discrimination.
“I’ve had my arse slapped as I’ve left a room,” she said. “I’ve felt scared walking home. I’ve had people following me. I don’t talk about these experiences much, because coming from me they’ll sound like a huge deal and I don’t want this to be about me, but most women I know have experienced it and worse.”
It’s part of the reason why Watson feels so compelled to take a break from Hollywood and devote herself to her HeForShe initiative, which encourages both men and women to focus on gender equality.
“This is the most fun I’ve ever had,” Watson said. “It’s so awesome to be at the forefront of that wave and that energy and just being able to channel that which I found mildly horrifying -- all of the crazy attention on me -- and doing something good with it, it just feels like I’m really doing what I’m meant to be doing.”
Watson’s Esquire U.K. piece was conveniently published just in time for International Women’s Day on Tuesday. She helped celebrate the occasion by tweeting about the new emoji that Twitter designed for HeForShe, and soon found herself in a cute, complementary exchange with Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling.
Women celebrating fellow women: That’s what this day is all about, after all.