Thumbnail image via Metro UK.
Even though Emma Watson is better known for her role as Hermione in the Harry Potter series, in recent years she has been an activist for the education of girls and the head of UN Women’s HeForShe campaign, which strives for men to understand and join the cause of gender equality. Unlike others, she has fought hard for the cause she believes in: she was present at the Women’s March in January and just this past Tuesday, International Women’s Day, she spent her day leaving feminist literature all around New York at memorials that honored female pioneers.
With the premiere of her new movie Beauty and the Beast, for which she refused to wear a corset due to the false body goals this imparts on girls and wanting her version of Belle to be active, Watson has been doing a lot of interviews and promo. However, when her Vanity Fair photos were revealed, she faced some major backlash. She was called a hypocrite by some feminist (and many non-feminist) groups because she was posing topless in one of the many pictures that the magazine published. She has consistently proven how much she actually believes in feminism and she has backed her words with strong actions. In response to the backlash, Watson told Reuters: “Feminism is about giving women choice, feminism is not a stick with which to beat other women with. It’s about freedom, it’s about liberation, it’s about equality.” It seems a little crazy to think, after all that she is done in favor of feminism and gender equality, that Emma having and showing her breasts have anything to do with her being anti-feminist. But this goes beyond that. Yes, it is unfair and honestly ridiculous to think that a leading woman in the feminism movement and activist such as Emma is being hypocritical by having her picture taken while being topless, but it’s not just that.
You have probably heard the phrase “Sex Sells,” and in advertising, we often see these women in sexy poses and little clothing selling a product that has nothing to do with their naked bodies, like perfumes, burgers, alcohol; you name it!.
Why isn’t that considered anti-feminist? Probably because in these cases, the male or the spectator is in power of the female body. The world is constantly begging to see more of the sensual female body, but once they do, someone is called a “hoe.” The world is okay with female nudity as long as they are the ones controlling it and the female is not enjoying it. Once that woman is empowered and confident in her body, everything is, apparently, wrong. That is why Emma has been getting so much backlash on her photos: she is confident in herself and empowered by her body, she has never cared and she has always defied stereotypes and labels.