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What Emma Watson Should Read

Emma Watson—the famed Harry Potter actress and a UN Women goodwill ambassador—recently announced that she plans to take a year-long break from acting in order to focus on self-development and advancing her “HeForShe” initiative, which encourages men to get involved in the fight for women’s rights.

Watson seems sincerely interested in advancing women’s interests and to recognize that the real battleground for women’s rights is in the parts of the globe where women really are still denied basic human rights and treated as second class citizens. She seems to have some good instincts in not seeing men as the enemy or presuming that all traditions and differences between men and women are rooted in sexism, though sadly, it seems almost inevitable that such a high-profile starlet will be pulled toward the Left.

As part of her self-study on gender issues, Watson says she plans to read a book a week. Here are a few suggestions for her list:

Christina Hoff Sommers – Who Stole Feminism?  This is a must read for anyone who wants a serious understanding of the evolution of the feminism movement, and why so many Americans reject the label today.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali – Infidel.  Ali’s personal story brings to light the tremendous challenge true feminists face in advancing women’s rights in Islamic countries.  

Kay Hymowitz – Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men into Boys.  Watson has noted that men are too often sidelined in conversations about gender bias, which ignores how gendered expectations limit them as well as women.  Watson might be interested in learning more about how many men are suffering today from under-achievement and constricted job opportunities, and the impact this phenomenon is having on women as well as men.

Liberty Is No War on Women: IWF’s Executive Director, Sabrina Schaeffer, and I wrote this short book challenging the idea that greater government regulation is in women’s best interests and explaining how free market and less government intervention can lead to more economic opportunity, a more flexible, dynamic work world, and a healthier society.  Watson may not agree with it, but she ought to be familiar with the unintended consequences of big government and the ideas underpinning the conservative economic approach.

Of course there are many, many other important books she should consider–Wendy Shalit’s Return to Modesty, IWF’s Lean Together, and Danielle Crittenden’s classic, What Our Mother’s Didn’t Tell Us, to name but a few more. But this would at least be a start and help ensure that her education is more balanced than what she’d get from the typical university gender studies department. 

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