Emma Watson's Vanity Fair photo causes controversy: Bad feminism or freedom of choice?
Natalie Portman and Emma Watson have a lot in common.
They are both actresses with a keen interest in their academic pursuits, have pursued their educations from Ivy League colleges in the United States, with Portman graduating from Harvard and Watson is pursuing her degree from Brown University.
The two are also outspoken feminists, Portman has been outspoken about Hollywood's portrayal of women stereotypes and Emma Watson is the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador.
And now both the actresses have been involved in controversies that involve their sartorial choices on magazine/newspaper cover shoots.
After Natalie Portman was criticised for going pantless for an article in The New York Times where she spoke about her directorial debut, Watson has now come under the line of fire for her Vanity Fair cover photo.
The question is: Can you be a feminist and pose in a nearly see-through top for Vanity Fair?
Here is the said cover:
Maturing from Hermione to Belle in @beautyandthebeast is a true coming-of-age story for @EmmaWatson: "I couldn't care less if I won an Oscar or not if the movie didn’t say something that I felt was important for people to hear." Read the full cover story at the link in bio. Photograph by Tim Walker.
And the cover photo:
In our March cover story, the newest Disney princess @EmmaWatson opens up about her metamorphosis from child star to leading woman (link in bio). Photographs by Tim Walker. A post shared by Vanity Fair (@vanityfair) on
The backlash was swift. Julia Hartley-Brewer, a British radio presenter and commentator, accused Watson of being hypocritical.
"Feminism, feminism... gender wage gap... why oh why am I not taken seriously... feminism... oh, and here are my (t*ts)!" Hartley-Brewer tweeted.
Emma Watson: "Feminism, feminism... gender wage gap... why oh why am I not taken seriously... feminism... oh, and here are my tits!" pic.twitter.com/gb7OvxzRH9
— Julia Hartley-Brewer (@JuliaHB1) March 1, 2017
She later defended her tweet, saying Watson 'complains that women are sexualised and then sexualises herself in her own work. Hypocrisy.' and that 'Emma Watson has criticised Beyonce for her rauncy acts on-stage and now she is posing almost topless to promote her new film.'
Her comments launched a heated debate on social media.
Watson, whose Beauty and the Beast remake comes out this month, said she was stunned by the vitriol she's received.
"They were saying that I couldn't be a feminist and have boobs," she said in an interview with Reuters. She said she was also surprised by the 'misunderstanding' that exists around what feminism means. "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. It's not — I really don't know what my t*ts have to do with it."
Here's the interview:
So what does Gloria Steinem, arguably the most high-profile feminist, think about this controversy?
Steinem laughed at the notion that Watson was a 'bad feminist' because she appeared in a revealing photo.
"Feminists can wear anything they f****** want," Steinem told TMZ. "They should be able to walk down the street nude and be safe."