True Feminism

Emma Watson is still a strong advocate

Megan Jenkins, Staff Writer

Ominous music resonates through the cold, open corridor. Crows screech as they hurriedly fly by. Three iconic friends walk through the chilling scene as they come across one white-haired boy, smirking with childish delight. Leading the way, the red-head girl storms up to the bully, pointing her magic wand directly at his throat. She takes a step back before delivering a powerful punch in what will later be known as one of the most girl-power scenes in the international best-selling series Harry Potter.

Hermione Granger, played by actress Emma Watson, is an empowering character who breaks the stereotype of the typical “damsel in distress.” With her intelligence and dedication, Hermione proves herself to be a powerful witch who Harry Potter must rely on in order to complete his journey. Just as Hermione breaks patriarchal norms in Harry Potter, Watson is constantly breaking patriarchal norms in the real world.

After modeling for a photoshoot in Vogue where her underboob was exposed, several criticisms were made about Watson for being a hypocrite and a fake feminist. Newslines and Twitter feeds were filled with this debate.

The debate was initiated by Julia Hartley-Brewer on Twitter after she tweeted a picture of Watson and captioned it with “Feminism, feminism… gender wage gap… why oh why am I not taken seriously… feminism… oh, and here are my (t*ts)!” and later tweeted that Watson “complains that women are sexualized and then sexulaises herself in her own work. Hypocrisy.” Many people supported Brewer’s claims, agreeing that exposing one’s chest objectifies them and goes against the ideals of feminism.

However, these claims against Watson are completely missing the point of feminism. Rather, they are only proving the point of why such a movement was created. Emma Watson showing her underboob isn’t going against feminism, but rather is embodying what feminism is fighting to protect, the right for everyone to have a choice.

There is a common misconception when it comes to the meaning of feminism. Feminism is not anti-men, nor is meant to promote women superiority. Feminism, as stated by the Huffington Post, is a movement to create economic, social, and political equality for all genders. Feminism is a movement for everyone. It’s about equality for everyone. Most importantly, it’s about giving people choice.

Watson’s decision to wear a braless top is solely her decision. She defended herself in an interview with BBC News, stating “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. I really don’t know what my t*ts have to do with it.”

On top of that, the claim that Watson is sexuliazing herself because she showed her chest in a photoshoot brings up another issue in today’s society and culture. Breasts are not inherently sexual, but it is our society that has sexualized them. Our culture is so flooded with images of breasts as sexual objects in magazines, in film, on billboards, etc, that the moment we catch sight of someone’s boob, people tend to immediately think it’s sexual. This isn’t the case at all.

Our culture is constantly presenting women as objects of sexual desire within the media, creating these sexist norms about how a woman should act and be valued. When young girls and boys are exposed to these representations of women, the idea that women are merely objects, rather than people with emotions, starts to set in. This is incredibly unhealthy as it creates unrealistic expectations out of women and puts pressure on women to fit in these sexist roles which they might not be able uphold or even want to. The explotation of women needs to stop.

Women should be able to breastfeed their child in public or pose without a bra on in a photoshoot without being ostracized from our society or criticized for sexualizing their own bodies. This is what feminism fights to protect. We need to understand the definition of feminism in order for actual change to happen—one based on equality. If we continue to let these false definitions and misunderstandings of feminism control reality, we are only going to lose progress in the movement for equality.