Emma Watson is the latest in a growing line of celebrities who suddenly feel qualified to lecture on the meaning and goals of feminism.
How she suddenly discovered this expertise is left to our imagination but presumably it involved some weird and wonderful arcane mysticism and waving a magic twig around. It certainly didn't involve reading the relevant studies and papers.
Emma has broken her instructions into a handy seven bullet points so that the audience can take the bit-sized message without getting hopelessly lost or confused. I'll take each point individually and respond. This is NOT a rant and I will not be seeking to fire off cutting put-downs or to 'destroy' her. It is a reasoned explanation of why I think she is misguided, misinformed and misdirected.
1. It's OK to let your girl pick up the bill
Before you break out into a cold sweat when throwing down your credit card over the digestifs menu, Emma assures that the fourth-wave of feminism isn't about killing-off chivalry. She says, "just because women want equality does not mean that acts of chivalry towards women must end. Chivalry is consensual and only becomes a problem when people expect things to be a certain way and follow the status quo."
Emma told the audience a dating anecdote to explain: "I once took a man out for dinner, I chose the place and I paid… and it was really awkward, it didn't go down well! But the cool thing was we were both willing to have the conversation about why it was so uncomfortable."
Now, here's a problem that is going to recur almost continually, so I'll deal with it here and simply refer to this section when it inevitably raises its head in the rest of the column.
Who, Emma, are you speaking for? All feminists? Clearly not. A particular 'branch' of feminism such as 'liberal feminism'? No, I don't remember anyone being elected, appointed or even briefed on that. The problem, you see, is that what you have just said is entirely OK with some types of feminist and entirely poison to others. The third wave theorists would say that you are sanctioning sexism (and they would, of course, be right). Chivalry is indeed consensual to a point. You don't negotiate whether I hold a door open for you - but what the hell has that got to do with anything? Do you think that only different treatment, according to gender, which is not agreed in advance is sexist?
Also, your example is very misleading, as you must know. Most of the time it would be the man picking up the bill - it is rare indeed for it to be the other way around. So if it is OK for one to pick up the bill for the other, what that means in real life is that blokes can continue to pay for women. Speaking personally, no, sorry, don't want to and shan't. If we are not friends already then buy your own meal and I will do likewise. If we are friends then we would know each other well enough for this not to be an issue, let alone one which would embarrass either of us. If you want to spend a first date talking about how embarrassing and awkward it was that is fine by me, but I'd rather not.