This week Emma Watson gave a rousing, humble, and thought-provoking speech to the UN General Assembly in New York.
Watson, who was appointed an UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, was there to launch HeForShe, a campaign which calls on men to become “agents of change” and advocates for women in the fight to end gender inequality.
Within 24 hours of her speech, a group of anonymous individuals threatened to publish nude photos of her in a few days time.
The site, EmmaYouAreNext.com, has since been uncovered as nothing more than a hoax, albeit a pretty intricate one, by a group of prolific Internet spammers going under the false moniker of “Rantic Marketing.” While some claim that targeting Watson in this way merely fuels publicity for her campaign and therefore is not a bad thing, I disagree. The damage has already been done.
Let’s take a look at the situation: A woman speaks up for gender equality — is at pains to point out that in being a feminist she is not (nor should we be) man hating.
She advocates that men should be allowed to show emotion (and essentially forgo the aggressive macho stance that is expected of them) so they can also be freed from the imprisonment of gender stereotypes. And what does she get? She’s attacked … by men acting in completely gender stereotypical ways.
Men who want to humiliate, degrade, and strip her (literally and metaphorically) because she dared to speak out and do something good for the world. “How dare the little wand-waving actress do such a thing? Let’s bring her down a peg or two and make her a sex object that we can all pour over, objectify, and ultimately show to be the inconsequential piece of meat that women are.”
HORRIFIC. On every level.
So what if the images never existed or weren’t published? That isn’t the point. If a woman is held at gunpoint and threatened with rape, but is never actually raped, is that OK then? Because that is what these sub-humans did. They took a glorious moment in her life (just imagine how proud her mom must’ve been of her level-headed, bright, sincere daughter surviving the pitfalls of Hollywood and a childhood movie career and giving a speech like that?) and tried to ruin it. For her and for every woman she was supporting.
It is irrelevant what they hoped to achieve by such a hoax — the closing down of malicious cites like 4Chan or whatever. The fact is that they threatened to essentially destroy Watson’s credibility at her most credible moment.
Woman hating has got to stop. Let’s take a look at some sobering facts from around the world, just to see where exactly women stand:
- Violence causes more death and disability worldwide amongst women aged 15 to 44 than war, cancer, malaria, and traffic accidents.
- Globally, 10 million more girls are out of school than boys.
- According to the most recent statistics from the U.S. Census, women earn just 77 percent of what men earn for the same amount of work.
- Women in some countries have no right to own the land on which they live or work. Not only can such a state trap women in abusive marriages, it also contributes to a phenomenon that economists have deemed the “feminization of poverty.” More than 1.5 billion people in the world live on less than $1 a day, and the majority of those people are women.
I could go on and on. But if I did, I’d find myself on a list somewhere being taunted that “nude pix” of me (which trust me, do not exist — I’ve never been that proud of my butt to put it on film) would be exposed? Will all women who are brave enough to confront these issues be subjected to online threats, stalking, or abuse?
Jennifer Lawrence didn’t even try to make a stance on anything political and yet private photos she took were posted online to try to tarnish her successful Oscar®-winning career. Thank god for the Lena Dunham’s of the world who accused those that viewed the photos of essentially raping Lawrence.
Women shouldn’t be blamed for taking such pictures, as it’s akin to saying a rape victim “wore a short skirt” or “had a few drinks” and therefore deserved what she got.
The only way we can stop women from being silenced, shoved back into our boxes and chained to the kitchen again, is to be vocal in our condemnation of the people who try to tear others down. To voice our utter disgust at the hackers who claimed to have stolen these photos. To refuse to be stopped. And I would apply this thought to every area of your life.
Don’t be afraid to speak up in class for fear the boys will tease you.
Don’t feel you have to wear sexy clothes to be accepted by your peers.
Don’t feel you have to be quiet because the men at work make the decisions.
Don’t feel you have to explain your sexual choices and sexuality to others.
Don’t feel you have to be anything other than who you are.
And Emma, great speech. Don’t let the nasty little trolls get you down. In years to come, no one will remember what they said, but we’ll all remember how great you made us feel.