Julia Hartley- Brewer tweeted her views on Emma Watson’s recent Vanity Fair photoshoot. I found her comment, which aligned with many other people’s views on the issue, extremely unsettling:
“Feminism, feminism… gender wage gap… why oh why am I not taken seriously… feminism… oh, and here are my (t*ts)!”
What’s wrong with showing your t*ts, Hartley-Brewer?
There are two main issues that have been highlighted due to the controversy surrounding Watson’s photos. Firstly, if she was a man nobody would bat an eyelid. Yes, it sounds ridiculous putting it in this context because realistically most of us aren’t going to be in Vanity Fair (sorry). However, imagine this scene: it’s a very warm, sunny day. The flowers are blooming, birds are singing and our friend Jim decides to take his shirt off as he walks along the road because he finds himself getting a bit sweaty. He’s walking along a relatively busy street just wearing his shorts and his flip-flops. This is fine, this is Britain, no one cares. Now imagine if our friend Jane did the same thing. It becomes quite a different situation. But why should it be? Jane has the same capacity to be warm as Jim. Jane has the same ability to sweat as Jim. So why can’t Jane take her shirt off and just wear shorts like Jim?
The second issue is that, arguably, Watson’s Vanity Fair photoshoot has had more attention than the ‘He for She’ campaign did. Watson has made waves in the feminist movement with this campaign and used it to help both women and men all around the world: not solely in Third World countries, nor just in First World countries. She is innovatively using the media to encourage people to help others. However, when you google ‘Emma Watson’ the first result is an article about her photos in Vanity Fair. It seems that Watson showing part of her breasts has eclipsed the ground-breaking work she has done to challenge gender norms.
Why has there been so much negativity surrounding Watson’s photos? My answer would be that in our current society, women are taught to hate each other by films, by magazines, even by books. It has become the norm to hate other women, so much so that it is now easier to criticise other women than to applaud them for their achievements. I catch myself doing it consistently and it is exhausting. A completely different way to react to Watson’s photoshoot is to celebrate the fact that she has the confidence and power to show her body in such a way. We should be proud of her.
In a recent interview, Watson said that ‘feminism is about giving women a choice. Feminism is not a stick with which to beat other women with’. Hartley-Brewer, that is exactly what you are doing – you are using the word ‘feminism’ to beat other women.
(Image courtesy of: http://www.hercampus.com/school/smu/6-reasons-why-emma-watson-true-blessing)