It’s 2017, let Emma Watson do what she wants

A couple of weeks ago, Emma Watson did a photoshoot. She made a decision, and did what she wanted to do. It really shouldn’t have become a massive news story: a celebrity does a photoshoot for a magazine, wow. But, obviously, as there are lots of unsavoury people in the world, the reactions to Watson’s photo (where she was topless but also wearing something) were not kind. She was bashed for being a feminist whilst doing a semi-topless photoshoot, because apparently the two things are mutually exclusive.

Julia Hartley-Brewer’s response was the first one I saw, where she tweeted a picture of Watson’s photoshoot with the caption: “Feminism, feminism… gender wage gap… why oh why am I not taken seriously… feminism… oh, and here are my tits!”. Criticisms like this aren’t new, they happen all the time. Especially when women decide to take control of their own body and life… people aren’t happy. Obviously. There are so many reasons why criticising Emma Watson’s photoshoot is wrong, I almost don’t know where to start.

Firstly, as Emma Watson herself said in response to the criticisms: “Feminsim is about giving women choice”. Exactly! One important purpose of feminism is to give women CHOICE over their life, and what they do. If anything, the photoshoot should have (and I’m sure it did for some people) made others take Watson’s message about feminism MORE seriously – not less, like Hartley-Brewer is suggesting. It’s 2017, surely we have got to a place where we can accept that women can make their own choices about what they do (or do not) do with their bodies? And surely they should feel free to do so without the thought of having to face criticism?

Secondly, women should be supporting other women. As the knowledgeable Jack Johnson once sung, “we’re always better when we’re together”, and that is true for most aspects of life. Those who identify as women should be supporting all the others in the world who do the same. We should be supporting everyone. Literally no good is going to come out of women bringing each other down, or attacking each other. All this does is reinforce the aspects of the patriarchy which feminism is trying hard to eradicate.

Thirdly, male celebrities pose topless all the time. All. The. Time. Obviously this double standard isn’t new, but its infuriating nonetheless. I saw a photo the other week (from the Daily Mail, obvs), where they had censored the woman (who was also wearing a bikini??) with a black bar over her chest, but had left the man who was standing next to her’s nipple uncensored. This is so indicative of attitudes, that it’s almost laughable. And, going back to Emma Watson, she wasn’t even fully topless!

It’s awful to see someone who works so hard for gender equality be ripped by the media for doing a photoshoot. These journalists criticising her for these pictures seem to forget the other (way, way more important) roles that Emma Watson does. She’s a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and helped to launch the incredible HeForShe campaign. We should be applauding her for having the time to do all these things, and managing to look great in a photo campaign for Vanity Fair. Let the girl do what she wants, and let her continue to be a great role-model for younger girls, who will see that they too can have control over their bodies, and their lives.

Frankie Elsey

(Image courtesy of Vanity Fair)

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