Emma Watson calls for feminist alternatives to pornography

Gloria Steinem discussed the differences between 'pornography' and 'erotica'  in a conversation with the actress

Emma Watson has called for the creation of "awesome alternatives" to pornography that empower instead of objectifying women.

Watson spoke as she interviewed the iconic feminist campaigner Gloria Steinem to coincide with the release of Steinem’s new book, My Life on the Road, which was the first to be featured in Watson’s new feminist book club Our Shared Shelf.

Steinem has long stressed the difference between erotica and pornography and on Wednesday expressed concern at how young people may grow up to perceive sex through watching pornography. “We should at least have a word for sex that is mutual and pleasurable and not about domination, pain, violence, humiliation and so on,” she said. 

Referring to a previous conversation she and Watson had, Steinem continued: “We were both worried about the envelopment of the earth in pornographic images. Young people especially. The right wing (right wing just in a general way) on one hand is suppressing sex education and allowing, or profiteering off pornography so young people look at porno and think that’s it. That’s what is supposed to be. I was hoping that having a word for erotica, for shared mutual pleasurable empathetic sex, real pleasurable sex would help us do something about pornography. […] Maybe not existing is a long way off, but having an alternative." 

"That I definitely think is possible," replied Watson. "We should be creating lots of awesome, great alternatives to pornography.”

Watson and Steinem discussed a number of issues relating to feminism during the 90-minute conversation including sexuality, abortion, violence against women and politics. They also touched on the significance of Hermione Granger as a character and the nervousness they both still feel before public speaking. 

The pair spoke about their backgrounds and childhoods, with Watson admitting that as much as she tried to escape being Hermoine Granger in the Harry Potter series, she was more like her than she thought.

“I feel as though I spent a long time trying to pretend I was not like Hermione. And, of course, I was rather like Hermione. I’ve finally come to accept that fact. It’s made me who I am and I celebrate it.”

Watson has emerged as a prominent feminist after giving her famous HeforShe speech to the UN in 2014 asking men to help in the fight for gender equality.

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The 25-year-old recently announced she is to take a break from acting to focus on and learn more about feminism, a move which Steinem labelled "great and important".