So despite trumpeting the virtues of feminism for years, establishing the HeforShe campaign, being UN women’s goodwill ambassador since 2014, as well as being a quality actress, it seems that not even Emma Watson is safe from the lunacy that is modern feminism.
In case you are unaware, Miss Watson recently came under fire from her feminist colleagues for appearing in a photoshoot for Vanity Fair in which parts of her breasts were showing (to everyone's horror, I'm sure). To a normal, well-adjusted human being this is pretty innocuous, but according to the brilliant minds in modern feminism she has committed a cardinal sin. She has dared to be a successful woman in what they claim is a society hell bent on oppressing her.
Those who have criticised Miss Watson say she has invalidated her feminist ideology by ‘objectifying’ herself for the pleasure of her ‘patriarchal oppressors’, (that’s men for the mentally sound among us). For you see it’s perfectly fine for women to be empowered and sexualise themselves, but the second they start making money from it it’s suddenly not allowed.
Of course this reaction is ridiculous. But it’s far from surprising if you know how feminism has been going for the last few years. While people like Watson will say feminism is about equality, it seems feminists struggle on what equality actually means. For every feminist supporting Watson’s right to use her own body as she sees fit, there are several others who don’t and it’s this disparity I will focus on here.
Whenever you ask a feminist on either side of the controversy about their opponents, you will all too often get the ‘well they’re not real feminists’ response which is pretty much a catch-all answer used to discredit those they disagree with. This is a response I have heard more times than I can reasonably count whenever I’ve pointed out some stupid thing another feminist has done.
The problem is that all these people, regardless of their opinions, ARE feminists. The anti and pro Watson sides simply represent two of the countless divides within the feminist movement. If you fancy developing a hernia you should try googling all the different denominations of feminism there are in the world, that being an absurd amount with each one contradicting many others to lesser or major extents.
It is because of these countless divisions that you often see feminists viciously attacking each other over issues, like this one, you’d think would be an easy sell. From fashion to politics to sex, I struggle to find any common ground over which feminists can unanimously agree and resist dog-piling those who disagree with them.
A prime example of this would be the advent of so-called ‘Freedom Feminism’ as coined by the feminist scholar Christina Hoff Sommers (who everyone, especially feminists, should read up on). The basic idea of ‘Freedom Feminism’ is that women are free, in Western society at least, to make their own life decisions but have to also accept the consequences of said decisions. It says that while there are disparities between men and women that should be addressed, they are down more to the different choices men and women make than overt sexism.
While admittedly I am a little biased in favour of this idea as I am a fan of Miss Sommers’ excellent work, even a total stranger to it would struggle to find anything especially offensive about it other than a civil disagreement. Feminists say otherwise.
Those who advocate for this kind of feminism or similar kinds that do not blame ‘the patriarchy’ for everything can expect to be harassed, insulted and labelled with all sorts of absurd buzz words like ‘misogynist’ or be accused of having ‘internalised misogyny’, (a ridiculous idea that women who disagree with feminists are deep down misogynists but don’t know it because ‘the patriarchy’ has indoctrinated them into being so).
It is because of behaviour like this as well as a generally hostile attitude to contrarian points of view throughout the movement that feminism has, in my eyes, lost the battle. Where it once stood unanimously for equal rights for women to men, it has now devolved into a toxic, mean-spirited mess too occupied with attacking its own followers to achieve anything worthwhile.
While there are those within the movement who are otherwise rational, considerate people, even they wind up engaged in the trench warfare that discussing feminist issues has become. Each engagement forces people into dealing or receiving personal attacks as to one’s character and intentions, rather than addressing the issues at hand.
To be clear, I have my own disagreements with Emma Watson’s beliefs, i.e. the fact she thinks we can achieve gender equality by focusing solely on women’s issues, although that is another topic. But I think that despite that she does advocate for legitimate equality and does not subscribe to the fanatical lunacy so many others do. However if this whole farce has done anything, it has shown that the feminism Watson believes in is far from the reality.
I think the next time Miss Watson claims feminism is about supporting women and achieving equality, we should all look back at this and remember that for every feminist like her, there are plenty more who would rather poison the well to maintain their warped views and in so doing drag the entire movement down to their nasty, vindictive level.
*If you would like to listen to Christina Hoff Sommers' views, she has an excellent show called The Factual Feminist which I absolutely reccommend to anyone.