Feminism: one of the most polarizing words in the English language. To some it brings to mind the ideas of empowerment and gender equality, and yet to others it brings to mind man-haters and hypocrisy. Due to this polarization, questions of what feminism is and how it is shown often arise in relation to celebrities, most recently with Emma Watson. Recent comments and scrutinies of Watson, accusing the star of being anti-feminist, have been anti-feminist themselves and are absolutely unwarranted.
The criticism stems from Watson’s Vanity Fair cover shoot, in which she posed in a revealing crochet shawl. After the photos came out, a British radio host, Julia Hartley-Brewer tweeted “Feminism, feminism… gender wage gap… why oh why am I not taken seriously… feminism… oh, and here are my tits!” This tweet is extremely anti-feminist because it undermines every one of Emma Watson’s achievements, while simultaneously undermining her right to make choices about what she wears and what she shows the world.
Hartley-Brewer later tweeted about arguments she was having with people she called “feminazis”, clearly still not understanding at all what feminism is about.
Watson has countless achievements already at the young age of 26. She devoted a lot of time to her education, despite her successful acting career and graduated from Brown University. She has since become the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador. Through the UN, she has been a large supporter of the HeForShe campaign, which aims to encourage men to support women and gender equality. She has also always focused heavily on the empowerment of young girls and has fought for education of young girls in parts of Africa where that is not the norm.
To attempt to undermine all of these achievements in something as petty and ridiculous as a subtweet is absolutely appalling, especially coming from another woman. However, it also shows the deep-rooted misconceptions of feminism that exist in America and Europe. Feminism does not mean women have to hide their bodies or that all men are terrible people, as many who use the term “feminazis” like to believe. Feminism stands for women being able to make their own choices and have every opportunity that a man has.
How could that be considered such a ridiculous thing to fight for?
Feminism also should mean women supporting other women and the choices they make. A woman should have the right to show her sexuality or not show it without being scrutinized and undermined.
This recent drama only serves to show how truly important the work of feminists is. We live in a world where when you Google Emma Watson, the first things that come up are countless articles focusing on a petty tweet, barely mentioning all of her achievements or the importance of them, so clearly feminism is necessary to our society. It will be necessary until men and women can focus more on what’s in a woman’s brain than what she puts on her body. It will be necessary until feminists are praised rather than undermined. It will be necessary until women can support each other and their decisions rather than resorting to social media to attempt to undercut everything they’ve worked for simply because of a magazine cover. And finally, it will be necessary until men and women are equal not just in this country, but in every country around the world.