By KATE LEAVER
Yesterday, she made an extraordinary speech about feminism at the United Nations.
Today, Emma Watson has received vicious threats against her safety, her privacy, and her life.
It’s almost as if we asked the universe to neatly demonstrate why Emma Watson’s speech was important. Because the way Watson was savagely treated by men online and in real life? That’s just one reason WE. STILL. NEED. FEMINISM.
Within hours of Watson’s stirring, brave speech, she was publicly targeted by hackers threatening to expose naked photographs of her. “Ur Next, Emma Watson” began trending and sophisticated commentary like this started going viral: “She makes stupid feminist speeches at UN, and now her nudes will be online, HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH”. She was called a whore, among other things I do not wish to repeat.
More disturbingly still, vile things were written about her body and she was killed off by an elaborate death hoax that involved fake media coverage like this:
The tide of online hatred and slander that immediately followed an evidence-based, brave, important speech by a terrific young woman is vile and unacceptable. That’s obvious. It’s a gendered character assassination — and before you ask whether that would happen if a man had spoken to the UN about a global issue, case in point: Leonardo Di Caprio spoke about climate change today and there has been no such reaction.
Now, protecting Hollywood celebrities from online trolling is obviously not the #1 priority for global feminism. Emma Watson herself would not suggest that it is. There are impoverished women dying in developing countries because their basic rights are not protected. We cannot address some of the most appalling inequities of this world we live in without achieving gender equality. It’s one of the most urgent things we can do as a human race.
Since she spoke up about this very issue, Emma Watson has had brutal criticism from all angles. It’s not just mysoginists who have been targeting this 24-year-old woman. It’s feminists. It’s human rights activists. It’s academics.