Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Intimidating Emma Watson: It's Our Fight Too

There is one purpose and one purpose alone in the nude photo leak threat to Emma Watson - to put her back in her box.

Following her powerful and highly praised speech to UN delegates on gender equality, Watson has been targeted by hackers unhappy with her call to action and the launch of the HeForShe campaign.

By sticking her head above the fence and using her position as UN Ambassador to ask both men and women to actively participate in the fight against sexism and misogyny, Watson has to deal with attempts to humiliate and shame her. In a cruel twist of fate, this response to her speech highlights exactly what needs to change.

It's not okay that we live in a world where women are attacked for speaking out about inequality. It's not okay that we live in a world where women are subjected to physical, sexual and emotional abuse because of their gender. It's not okay that we live in a world where gender pay-gap's still exist. It's not okay that women are objectified and valued based on their physical appearance.

In a perfect demonstration of misogyny in action, the threat of hackers to publish nude photos of Watson is a show of sexism. When Daniel Radcliffe spoke out about gender inequality, no hackers threatened him with photo leaks. In fact, there was no threat to humiliate him at all. Or John Legend. Or Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Or Patrick Stewart who spoke out for the Ring The Bell campaign in an effort to end violence against women.

By threatening such action, hackers are attempting to silence Watson. The only way to counter-act such behaviour is to be vocal in our disgust at it. Intimidation wins in the halls of silence.

We are still talking about women's rights in 2014 because it's still an issue. As someone who has been in the firing line for discussing the need to advance gender equality, you are shouted at to stand down. The ignorant, and worse, The Daily Mail, cry about women's lib gone made and reverse sexism. Portraits of feminists invoke images of man-hating, bra-burning, shrill individuals who won't be satisfied until all men are kept underground solely for the purposes of reproduction.

The challenging of that perception in Watson's speech was one of the most powerful elements of it; the declaration that this fight is one that needs participation from both men and women.

It's sad that there are people in this world who will tear you down for speaking out. It's unfair that by highlighting an issue, Watson has been made a target. But such an event makes it all the more important to speak out - not just for one individual, but for all of us.

Nearly 100,000 people have signed the online petition to fight gender inequality. In Ireland, 954 men have made the pledge. We need to do better.

Mucho Love,

Vicky xoxo

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