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Let’s talk about Emma Watson and the Vanity Fair controversy

We discuss the controversy that’s surrounded Emma Watson and THAT photo shoot… and how what you wear doesn’t determine or negate your feminism


Emma Watson was criticised recently for posing topless for a Vanity Fair photograph. I should probably correct that; the photograph was of her nearly topless. I clarify, because every headline I read claimed she “stripped topless,” so I was actually surprised to see her covered up in the photograph. Not that this is the point at all, but different clothing styles show all sorts of cleavage, side-boob, under-boob, and any type of boob in general. So why is everyone up in Watson’s grill?

Well, after seeing the photograph, some had a total meltdown. People took to social media to criticise Watson because she was a “hypocrite.” Apparently, some people had got the wrong end of the stick and thought Emma Watson, back in 2016, had condemned Beyoncé’s use of sexuality in her Lemonade album. However, Watson cleared things up by tweeting out a copy of her interview to her 24 million Twitter followers.

In the original transcript, Watson is quoted as saying: “[Beyoncé] does make it clear that she is performing for [Jay-Z] and the fact she wasn’t doing it for a label, she was doing it for herself and the control that she has directing it and putting it out there, I agree is making her sexuality empowering because it is her choice.”

She continued: “The second is that I would say you do get sense of, ‘I can be a feminist, I can be an intellectual, I can be all these other things, but I can also be ok with my femininity, and being pretty and with all these things that I thought might negate my message or negate what I am about.’ That really is the most interesting thing about the album. It is so inclusive and puts feminism and femininity and female empowerment on such a broad spectrum.”

Watson also fired back at critics, saying: “It just always reveals to me how many misconceptions and what a misunderstanding there is about what feminism is. Feminism is about giving women choice, feminism is not a stick with which to beat other women.

“It’s about freedom, it’s about liberation, it’s about equality. I really don’t know what my tits have to do with it. It’s very confusing. Most people are confused. They were saying that I couldn’t be a feminist and have boobs.”

As we celebrated International Women’s Day on the 8th of March, social media was covered in quotes and messages about feminism and inspirational women. People even wore red and changed their social media profile pictures to show a “sign of solidarity” that they believed in women’s rights. Yet the same women were some of those attacking Emma Watson’s topless-but-not-really-topless photo shoot picture.

It has been said time and time again; feminism has nothing to do with what you wear. It’s about women having the same opportunities, rights, respect, and choices as men. To criticise Emma Watson over what she wants to wear is backward, and it goes against the very nature of feminism. You cannot tell her how to live her life, just as you cannot tell anyone else.

By baring part of her chest, Watson is not an object — she is living in a society that is objectifying her. I wouldn’t say that being a feminist means you have to show off parts of your body, but it is clear that feminism is about free choice.

Emma Watson can do and wear what she wants. And so can any woman.

  • M. Paddington

    Showing sideboob is sexy NOTHING TO DO WITH feminism. God you milennialls always trying to make a big deal of nothing. Let her wear what she wants Emma Waston is a minx

    • Nobody

      Have you even read the article? Sit back down.

  • Paul

    Sorry got to comment. Just love the situation here and the author of the article is clearly battling with a great deal of cognitive dissonance.

    > Feminism is about equality!: “women having the same opportunities, rights, respect, and choices as men”
    > The top female supermodel makes 50x more than man: $47 mill in 2014 v the top male model at $1.5 million
    > Nobody says anything about the inequality or the hypocrisy entailed in women objectifying themselves whilst complaining about being objectified
    > Emma Watson personifies these facts
    > People finally get angry at these facts
    > Feminism is about free choice!: “it is clear that feminism is about free choice”.

    Being equal and being free to do whatever you like are NOT the same.

    • Georgie

      Really the whole point is saying Emma Watson can do whatever she wants. If she wants to objectify herself that’s OK. It’s not right or fair that society can objectify her. I think you’re possibly missing the point the author is trying to make. I don’t think she is saying they are the same- the author wrote “it is clear that feminism is about free choice.” So the phrases “being equal” and “having free choice” are not synonymous but being equal means you should HAVE free choice. Emma Watson’s statement said “It’s about freedom, it’s about liberation, it’s about equality.” This is completely true. Feminism has to do with all of this, but they don’t all mean the same thing. You’re misunderstood I am afraid. Hope that makes sense. Shoot me a message if you’re still confused x

      • Paul

        Being equal is not the same as being free to do whatever you want without consequence and it certainty does not follow. Being equal doesn’t mean you should have freedom to do what they like, which let’s be clear is not saying you should have freedom to act in a certain way, Emma Watson and women and indeed men clearly have that freedom. That’s not the argument. The argument is for freedom is act in a certain way without consequence, which here is criticism. That is what is a load of rubbish. You say equality and this freedom aren’t synonymous but then you quote Emma Watson using them all synonymously. I mean, we aren’t even discussing equality any more, because as I said women objectify themselves much more successfully than men. I’m making no judgment about that. But isn’t even about ;freedom’ either because women already possess the freedom to objectify themselves, as Emma Watson freely just did. This is about freedom to do whatever you like and not accept the consequences, which here is people criticizing here. Nobody put her in a gulag, nobody took away her freedom, they criticized her, and that’s your argument. Sorry to be so abrupt, but it’s so far down the rabbit hole of entitlement you’re probably having visions of a very smiley cat sitting perched on a tree branch.

        • Aiswarya

          But being equal means you should have free choice! Perhaps Emma Watson’s words didn’t quite say that but the author knows what’s meant. A lot of people disagree with you and think this is not about accepting consequences of doing what she wants but they critiizse her objectifying herself as a sexual object. She can do what she wants, that’s the point