Melanie McDonagh Melanie McDonagh

Emma Watson is right: film awards should be ‘gender neutral’

Emma Watson isn’t, you might say, to everyone’s taste, given that her feminism – she can hardly get up in the morning, it seems, given the burden of expectations on her as a woman – is combined with the possession of a very large, Harry Potter-related fortune. My own reservations about her have more to do with her limited range as an actress – the Dorothy Parker gag about running the whole gamut from A to B comes to mind, though W for wooden might be more like it.

But she had a point, she really did, in her acceptance speech for MTV’s acting award for her role as Belle in Beauty and the Beast. She has been mocked rather cruelly – though why she should pay any attention to anything people say on Twitter is beyond me – for making too much of the award, given the award does appear to be a bucket of popcorn. But the point about it is that it is gender neutral: boys and girls compete on an equal basis. As Emma W observes:

‘The first acting award in history that doesn’t separate nominees based on their sex says something about how we perceive the human experience. MTV’s move to create a genderless award for acting will mean something different to everyone. But to me, it indicates that acting is about the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. And that doesn’t need to be separated into two different categories.’

She’s right, you know, she’s so right. You can, just about, see the point of separate men’s and women’s sporting contests, given the disparity in the sexes’ physical strength, but acting? I think not. It isn’t to do with gender, it’s to do with being able to act.

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