Emma Watson has been hiding copies of The Handmaid's Tale around Paris
June 29, 2017 1:18 PM   Subscribe

Emma Watson has been hiding copies of Margaret Atwood's novel The Handmaid's Tale around Paris, with a handwritten note inside each one. This is a continuation of Watson's previous work with Book Fairies, an international organization that leaves books in public places in 100 different countries for people to find, read, and then pass along to someone else. On International Women's Day this year, in collaboration with Book Fairies, Watson hid copies of feminist books at historical sites around New York City. It also dovetails with Watson's general interest in reading and promoting feminist literature: in January 2016, she launched a public feminist book club called Our Shared Shelf; here is her full list of books for 2016.

Book Fairies were inspired by BookCrossing and Books on the Underground.

Previously on Metafilter:

Emma Watson and bell hooks talk feminism

Watson's speech on feminism to the United Nations
posted by hurdy gurdy girl (44 comments total) 46 users marked this as a favorite
 
I didn't know about book fairies, but after my house got destroyed last year, I had to significantly curate my book collection for storage and unpacking. All in all, I gathered about 800 books that weren't going back on my shelves. All the children's books I donated to the local public schools, and gave the library first crack at completed collections and series, but paperbacks I've just been tucking in to strange places with a note to read and share. Coffee houses, and waiting rooms and the like.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 1:32 PM on June 29, 2017 [12 favorites]


I am for this.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 1:43 PM on June 29, 2017 [1 favorite]


Damn it, Emma! Stop making me love you so much. You're too young for me.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 1:44 PM on June 29, 2017 [13 favorites]


...and apparently she speaks (or at least writes) French. Très bien!
posted by leotrotsky at 1:54 PM on June 29, 2017 [2 favorites]


TIL The Handmaid's Tale is called The Scarlet Servant in French.
posted by solotoro at 2:01 PM on June 29, 2017 [5 favorites]


Hermione always was the smart one.
posted by scalefree at 2:54 PM on June 29, 2017 [15 favorites]


Always shoving Canadian culture down people's throats.
posted by GuyZero at 3:17 PM on June 29, 2017 [3 favorites]


...and apparently she speaks (or at least writes) French. Très bien!
Well, she was born in Paris, and left when she's was 5 (amusingly, her character in Beauty and the Beast was also born in Paris but left when she was still a baby). The Handmaid's Tale is not well-known in France. The Volker Schlöndorff/Harold Pinter adaptation was released there in 1990 and it seems to have left no trace whatsoever, in spite of its stellar cast (Faye Dunaway, Robert Duvall).
posted by elgilito at 3:27 PM on June 29, 2017 [1 favorite]


Hermione always was the smart one.

I really wish that JK Rowling had centered her story on Hermoine instead. She was always the most interesting character from that trio. Harry is so vanilla, he might as well be the colour of paint at a hospital.

Reboot this series and tell it from Hermoine's POV. Just take my money.
posted by Fizz at 3:34 PM on June 29, 2017 [35 favorites]


Exactly what I was thinking, this is such a Hermione move. Hermione BOOKS! Granger.
posted by adept256 at 3:37 PM on June 29, 2017 [1 favorite]


surely dumbledore is the most fab of the bunch
posted by Foci for Analysis at 3:38 PM on June 29, 2017


I joke amongst my friends that Harry is really the stereotype of the mediocre white man and he would have been insufferable as a Slytherin. (And I say this as a proud Slytherin.) Hermione is the OG
posted by yueliang at 3:41 PM on June 29, 2017 [8 favorites]


I would like to endorse the audiobook read by Clair Danes. She does a great job. When she says 'he just wanted to play scrabble!' you can hear the eyeroll.
posted by adept256 at 3:44 PM on June 29, 2017 [6 favorites]


Harry would have been an acceptable character to have around if Hermione also hadn't been saddled with Ron Weasley. like why does Hermione have to have two mediocre white man sidekicks?
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 4:09 PM on June 29, 2017 [19 favorites]


And worst of all, why did she have to MARRY Ron Weasley? I wanted her to find a nice super smart competent auror, not a man child she will have to parent for the rest of her life.
posted by corb at 4:14 PM on June 29, 2017 [24 favorites]


I joke amongst my friends that Harry is really the stereotype of the mediocre white man and he would have been insufferable as a Slytherin.

Ron is also a great demonstration of how privilege and nepotism are mutually reinforcing constructs, considering that he doesn't even have a storied past or one particularly extraordinary personality trait. Harry is dull in basically every sense of that word, but his combination of strength of conviction and high risk tolerance is the catalyst for a lot of his major successes. Ron ends up being a player in a lot of the key campaigns in the Second Wizarding War just by virtue of being a dude who's there when Harry first takes the stage.

Hermione, on the other hand, is over here just being, you know, the widely-attested best witch of her generation. And she's not just a technician! She has all of Harry's gumption on top of a stronger tactical mind and facility for planning than Harry could ever hope to have, with his tendency towards rash behavior. As is typical, survivorship bias and patriarchal norms collude to rationalize that behavior post hoc, with the reasoning being that his actions, rather than sheer luck, were the main causal factor behind his success. In the real world, Harry is that guy who rags on his hiking buddies for following the trail down the mountain and elects to take a shortcut down the steep slope instead, shortly to take a slip that sends him tumbling towards an ignominious death meriting at most a single paragraph, pro forma mention in some local newspaper.
posted by invitapriore at 4:15 PM on June 29, 2017 [16 favorites]


But corb, her ending up with Ron Weasley is really the fantasy ending. In real life, she and Harry would have had an affair and he would have left her for (younger, pliable) Ginny. Hermione would have ended up with Draco Malfoy since he ended up being the only one in her circle who could deal with her being strong-- unfortunate about the evil.
posted by frumiousb at 4:22 PM on June 29, 2017 [2 favorites]


It would be unfortunate about the evil, if Hermione had all her rights taken away and she was forced to be an evil dude's concubine. That's a fanfic that I didn't want to imagine.
posted by adept256 at 4:29 PM on June 29, 2017


no no no no no.

Hermione is Minister for Magic, she's not married to anyone, she has Viktor Krum apparate over whenever she's looking to have some times. this is my headcanon and I'm sticking to it.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 4:29 PM on June 29, 2017 [31 favorites]


No, due to a spell gone awry, Hermione is reincarnated to a parallel universe as a sentient unicorn pony, where her studiousness, organization, and magical skills are properly appreciated. Then she discovers the magic of friendship and becomes an alicorn.
posted by leotrotsky at 4:34 PM on June 29, 2017 [7 favorites]


Ron is also a great demonstration of how privilege and nepotism are mutually reinforcing constructs

Ron's family are the working class whose parents are trying to improve their children's lives through education? And the point of Ron as a character is to counterpoint a functional, supportive family life vs the Dursleys and Harry's dead parents? And he's only Harry's friend because they sat together on the train the first day as he was clearly too low class to be talked to by the kids from other wizarding families?

I realize this is a big sidebar from The Handmaids Tale but that's a really odd reading of Ron as a character in Harry Potter.
posted by GuyZero at 4:43 PM on June 29, 2017 [10 favorites]


class in the wizarding world though is... not particularly well-realized though. basically the wizarding economy makes no sense. like Arthur's got a pretty sweet job and Molly's never had to work outside the home. The only reason given for them being poor is cause they have too many kids. really the presentation of their class status on the whole is all mixed up with some sort of unfortunate Irish Catholic stereotypes.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 4:48 PM on June 29, 2017 [8 favorites]


There are serious implications which are forewarned in The handmaid's tale. Like Mike Pence being an impeachment away from power. I know that women's rights won't be fulfilled by magic. As scary and evil as Voldemort is, he's fictional and sexism is real. This idea of leaving books around at random places so someone can have a look at them and see what evil is actually like, maybe that's a good idea. Pointing a wand doesn't do much.
posted by adept256 at 4:55 PM on June 29, 2017 [7 favorites]


Hermione sans Harry continues to be the most studious witch at Hogwarts and ends up as a competent but entirely despised Headmistress. She's all talent, no drive. She takes no chances, is a stickler for all rules, and spends her time during the Second Wizarding War studying at home, alone, and creating shielding spells to protect those around her.

Hermione was immensely talented at the start of the series, but utterly insufferable. She made no friends at school until Harry and Ron saved her from the troll in the bathroom - an incident in which "the greatest witch of her generation" didn't even think to cast a spell to protect herself. She was mercilessly mocked by others, especially the Slytherin girls, and hid in that bathroom alone rather than go to a friend when she was upset.

Harry drew out her latent bravery (something the Sorting Hat likely saw in her, rather than putting her in Ravenclaw where she naturally belonged). And she in turn saw something in Ron, a potential not for greatness but for decency. She didn't want some overblown alpha, she wanted the warmth of home, of family, of comfort.

Harry is Hermoine's catalyst for greatness. She would not nearly have been as successful without his friendship.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 5:01 PM on June 29, 2017 [27 favorites]


I really did not mean to hijack the thread. Apologies.
posted by scalefree at 5:43 PM on June 29, 2017 [1 favorite]


@GhostintheMachine: That's a very lovely rebuttal, I appreciate the thoughtfulness of that. My 9 year old self that isn't jaded by mediocrity and oppression thanks you so much. My current 25 year old self is grateful for your strong and nuanced conversation and being glad that I was brave enough to state a comment like that haha as to receive back a really awesome reply.

And haha, okay gonna attempt bringing the thread back to the actual original post.

Because I am tired and exhausted, instead of criticizing her white feminism in other cases, I do want to say that it is a delightful and very playful idea what she is doing here, and I think we could really think more to combine subversion and fun in our activist work, and to make space for acts of resistance, large and small.

Defeating and disrupting an oppressive normativity in all of its forms and methods is a really noble and necessary goal to have, and I really like this as an example of such. I wonder if other folks have other thoughts of how they could do such acts or projects in their lives? I know there was a thread on the MetaTalk a while back where people posted about how they were resisting.
posted by yueliang at 5:47 PM on June 29, 2017 [5 favorites]


The rails are over there, and here we are. Sport is a new battlefield for income equality. It's difficult to argue the United State's Women's team hasn't been successful. They correctly complain the men are paid more, despite being failures. So being demonstrably good at sport can expose inequality.

Which is an example of how a fun thing can be used to promote equality. And Hermione, another fun way to show what half of all people can do, with a little magic.
posted by adept256 at 6:14 PM on June 29, 2017 [1 favorite]


"And worst of all, why did she have to MARRY Ron Weasley?"

Because they fought in the first act and that's how Anglo-Saxon literary romance works: They hate each other, they hate each other, they hate each other, THEY LOVE EACH OTHER, the sex must be great! Continental Europeans find our literary lovers quite odd, they have Don Juans.

I was so aggravated by fandom when it was like "BUT HERMIONE CAN'T END UP WITH RON!!!!" because, look dude, do you even Shakespeare? Fighting is always the prelude to sex in Anglo-Saxon literature. That's just how it works. Ron and Hermione were destined for each other from book 1 when they were mean to each other. Ever seen a romcom? "Oh no, your multinational conglomerate just bought my adorable local bookstore and killed it, now I must hate you and then we must have massive quantities of very hot sex!" LITERALLY THE WHOLE PLOT. Hate --> Hate sex --> Love
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:49 PM on June 29, 2017 [16 favorites]


So it's always kind-of fascinating how child stars end up as they reach adulthood (some of them are train wrecks, some of them are normal, some of them are hella interesting!) and Emma Watson has definitely been one of our most worthwhile and interesting child stars as she has become an adult! I admire so much of her work outside the acting world.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:54 PM on June 29, 2017 [9 favorites]


I always thought Hermoine and Ron complimented each other quite well. And it's not like Ron was a total idiot. He was selected as a prefect the same time as Hermoine so obviously Dumbledore thought he wasn't just a tool. Also, Ron was the best chess player of the three.

I am just thrilled as a Potter fan that Emma has turned out to be such a force of nature and a warrior for justice and equality. Sort of following in JK's footstep's, isn't she?
posted by Ber at 7:59 PM on June 29, 2017 [3 favorites]


In case anyone who doesn't read French clicked over to the post about the handwritten note and wanted to know what it says:

To whoever has found this book,

Congratulations! You have just found a copy of the book that we are reading at the moment in my feminist book club, "Our Shared Shelf".

The book fairies have hidden exactly 100 copies of The Handmaid's Tale all over Paris, so you are very lucky to have found this book!

I hope you will enjoy it, and I encourage you warmly, when you have finished reading it, to also become a Book Fairy, and to redistribute it so that someone else will find it.

If you want to exchange and share with others your impressions of the book, you can find our conversation on Goodreads.com/oursharedshelf or use the hashtag #OSSparis on social media.

Affectionately,
Emma (Watson)
posted by lollusc at 11:10 PM on June 29, 2017 [11 favorites]


I always imagined Ron and Hermoine's marriage where he's the stay at home parent supporting Hermoine in her ambitions. It also makes double sense because Ron's good at the family/kid stuff, being one of seven children, while Hermoine maybe doesn't have that instinct since she was an only child.

I always get a little miffed at people who hate that she married Ron because he's average. Like the only people she's allowed to be with are equally ambitious and gifted.
posted by LizBoBiz at 7:30 AM on June 30, 2017 [5 favorites]


So it's always kind-of fascinating how child stars end up as they reach adulthood (some of them are train wrecks, some of them are normal, some of them are hella interesting!) and Emma Watson has definitely been one of our most worthwhile and interesting child stars as she has become an adult! I admire so much of her work outside the acting world.

I feel like one of the most underappreciated parts of the Harry Potter films was the collective effort over a decade by the brightest lights in the British thespian community to raise those kids not to be assholes.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:26 AM on June 30, 2017 [22 favorites]


HP and the Cursed Child has hermione as minister for magic(who has developed a sweet tooth) and Ron a partner at Weasly's Wizard Wheezes.
posted by brujita at 8:39 AM on June 30, 2017 [2 favorites]


Because they fought in the first act and that's how Anglo-Saxon literary romance works: They hate each other, they hate each other, they hate each other, THEY LOVE EACH OTHER, the sex must be great! Continental Europeans find our literary lovers quite odd, they have Don Juans.

I was so aggravated by fandom when it was like "BUT HERMIONE CAN'T END UP WITH RON!!!!" because, look dude, do you even Shakespeare? Fighting is always the prelude to sex in Anglo-Saxon literature. That's just how it works. Ron and Hermione were destined for each other from book 1 when they were mean to each other. Ever seen a romcom? "Oh no, your multinational conglomerate just bought my adorable local bookstore and killed it, now I must hate you and then we must have massive quantities of very hot sex!" LITERALLY THE WHOLE PLOT. Hate --> Hate sex --> Love


I think Richard Fish on Ally McBeal summed up the awful state of American sitcom romance the best with his line "Friction, friction, friction, orgasm"
posted by srboisvert at 10:05 AM on June 30, 2017 [2 favorites]


Listen, just because Romione was clearly foreshadowed doesn't mean I have to be happy with it.

Hermione/Krum forever.
posted by a power-tie-wearing she-capitalist at 10:22 AM on June 30, 2017 [4 favorites]


Ever seen a romcom? "Oh no, your multinational conglomerate just bought my adorable local bookstore and killed it, now I must hate you and then we must have massive quantities of very hot sex!" LITERALLY THE WHOLE PLOT. Hate --> Hate sex --> Love

I know this one! Meg Ryan owns a small, local, independent bookstore being threatened by a chain business and spends the entire movie buying her coffee at Starbucks. She didn't deserve that shop around the corner.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 12:48 PM on July 1, 2017 [3 favorites]


> I always get a little miffed at people who hate that she married Ron because he's average. Like the only people she's allowed to be with are equally ambitious and gifted.

it's just, if she wanted to hook up with a clod there's way sexier clods she could have hooked up with. instead of just falling into a bourgeois marriage with the world's dullest redhead.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 2:34 PM on July 2, 2017 [3 favorites]


Hate --> Hate sex --> Love

This is what I use in my arguments with my daughter when I tell her that Malfoy should've ended up with Potter.
posted by Margalo Epps at 11:06 PM on July 2, 2017 [5 favorites]


I think every snotty thing I'd have to say about people who hate Ron Weasley doesn't need to be said as for some reason a real life woman's actions have been overtaken by who a fictional character marries off the page.

(Seriously, I could write a thinkpiece on the feminist trainwreck that is this derail.)

Anyway. This is nice, I guess, of Watson but really does come as some ineffectual white feminist silliness. Is this to "raise awareness" of a book that's been out for 30 years and has been turned into a popular miniseries?

It's great that Watson cares but I'm not going to get that excited about a stunt that just screams ineffectual white feminism.

The book club seems like a good idea to promote interest in reading.
posted by asteria at 10:42 AM on July 3, 2017


Reboot this series and tell it from Hermoine's POV. Just take my money.

SLBF (Super-Long BuzzFeed): If Hermione Were The Main Character In Harry Potter, aka Hermione Granger and the Goddamn Patriarchy. The narrated video version is worth a watch.

"Hello, I'm Hermione Granger. Is that seat taken?"

"I'm Harry, Harry Potter. And sorry, this carriage is for boys only."

It was in that moment that Hermione first learned a valuable skill: Throwing shade. Of course, she'd heard of Harry Potter, as all witches and wizards had, and couldn't believe he of all people would say something so silly.

"I've read all the rules – there's no such thing as a boys-only carriage."

"Do you know who that is? That's Harry Potter. The Boy Who Lived. And he just said boys only, are you deaf or what?"

"It's funny you should say that, because I'm Hermione Granger, The Girl Who Gave Literally Zero Fucks. And I sit wherever I damn well please."
posted by Devika at 1:58 PM on July 3, 2017 [2 favorites]


Hermione would have grown up differently without Ron and Harry, but let's be real here -- she chose Gryffindor over Ravenclaw: she always saw the merit in action over learning. She was insufferable at 11, and it turned out she became friends with Ron and Harry, but I don't see why she would not have made different friends who would have helped her in different ways. She might have befriended a Ravenclaw and done research in school, or a Hufflepuff who showed her better ways to interact with people or Slytherin and figured out how to have more specific goals than "do well in school". But everyone changes from when they are 11.
posted by jeather at 10:14 AM on July 4, 2017 [1 favorite]


for some reason a real life woman's actions have been overtaken by who a fictional character marries off the page

Representation matters. I think this is something that a lot of people can agree with.

And so it matters when you are a little girl, a little smart, bushy-haired, buck-toothed girl, who is told by the world that you are unimportant because the things that matter are not your brains, and then all of a sudden you have representation in a book, on a screen - fiction, the source of most of your role models for life, telling you that you can be important, a badass, well loved. I think most of us would probably agree there.

Unfortunately, the other messages given also matter. It also matters when Hermione, who has grown into herself, who is beautiful and fierce and the brightest witch of her generation, is told that when relationships shake out - you know, that place by which teenagers especially tend to assign themselves value - that she, bright and glorious, only merits an also-ran, a "and Ron was also there." That is the partner that must be rated by the world as her equal.

In the end, the story of Ron and Hermione getting together reads more as a "don't worry, shlubby guys who don't do too much! You also can get a Hermione!" rather than as a "Don't worry, bright, beautiful girls! Someday you might even get a Ron!"

It's not about him being a stay at home dad, or his class, or even his intelligence. We haven't actually seen him being adept at familial relations, or interpersonal ones, or organization and structure. When they are on the run in the woods, it is Hermione who plans for it. The books are not a series of Ron making the world better and more comfortable and proving himself as the perfect stay at home husband for badass Hermione Granger. The books, where they focus on Ron, do so only as a way of showcasing his unearned privilege that comes with being a wizard who is friends with Harry Potter. Hermione would have shone even without him.

And I cannot see that relationship without seeing the current tropes that focus that sort of relationship - the many, many rom-coms where it's "See This Shlubby Guy Get With This Awesome Professional Woman, Who Learns To Love!" The idea that these brilliant, competent women, were just missing a barely competent man in their life is offensive and upsetting, and seeing it mimicked in the pages of a book that seemed to get a lot of other things right is also frustrating.
posted by corb at 2:39 PM on July 4, 2017 [6 favorites]


> She might have befriended a Ravenclaw and done research in school, or a Hufflepuff who showed her better ways to interact with people or Slytherin and figured out how to have more specific goals than "do well in school". But everyone changes from when they are 11.

In my head-alt-canon, Hufflepuff Hermione becomes the greatest organizer the wizarding world has ever seen, and so the story of the novels becomes the story of the entirely successful campaign for genuine house elf liberation.

anyway.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 1:54 PM on July 13, 2017 [2 favorites]


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