Emma Watson interviews Gloria Steinem: Five important quotes on sexuality and feminism to consider

Points from two prominent feminists that should have made the headlines

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The Independent Online

An interview Emma Watson carried out with Gloria Steinem is attracting an inordinate amount of interest at the minute - simply because the actress dared to broach the subject of female sexuality.

Watson sat down with the feminist author and activist for a 90-minute, wide-ranging conversation that touched on sexuality, abortion, violence against women, the representation of women and politics. In short, they discussed a number of important and current issues surrounding feminism, but many were lost in a sea of headlines about eyebrows and dip-dyed hair

One particular remark regarding a subscription Watson has to a website dedicated to the exploration of female sexuality has overshadowed much of their exchange. In between salacious headlines about Watson paying for access to an “explicit sex website”, here are five important issues raised by two prominent feminists about women, feminism and sexuality that should be considered.

Differentiating between porn and erotica:

Watson and Steinem both discussed their fear of potentially harmful pornography “enveloping the earth”. Steinem is keen to promote erotica as opposed to pornography that degrades, causes pain to or humiliates women. “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.

Watson agreed. “We should be creating lots of awesome, great alternatives to pornography.”


“Our bodies are instruments, not ornaments,” said Steinem. “We should celebrate our different shapes and sizes, our caesarean scars and all the other beautiful imperfections that make us who we are. I hope every woman in this room goes home tonight, looks in the mirror and says, ‘Yes, this is fan-f**king-tastic!'”

Female sexuality

Watson discussed a website that uses scientific and academic research to better understand female sexuality, with findings passed on to subscribers. This was the ”explicit sex website“ many people found themselves reading about the next day. 

”A friend told me about this website called OMGYES, which is dedicated to female sexuality,” she told Steinem. “I wish it had been around longer. Definitely check it out.“

A spokesperson for the website explained the concept to the New York Daily News: “We got $4.6 million in funding and are doing that research. Instead of just making academic journal articles, we’re making the findings practical, real, and experiential in the form of documentary interviews – both explicit and non-explicit – with real-life women, not actresses.”


The fundamental flaw of society in its current state was neatly summarised by Steinem: “We are in a hierarchy, which is based on patriarchy and patriarchy doesn’t work anymore.”


Watson highlighted negative misconceptions surrounding the word feminism that need to be addressed in the fight for gender equality. ”Feminism has become an unpopular word," she said. "Women are choosing not to identify as feminists. Apparently I am among the ranks of women whose expressions are seen as too strong, too aggressive, isolating, anti-men. Unattractive even.“