Why Being Naked Doesn’t Affect Someone’s Feminist Status
The human body is a beautiful thing, in all its forms. It is something we should love, and be proud of. Yet, for some reason being confident in your body, or exposing any part of your physical being as a woman, is viewed as feminist suicide.
Emma Watson, actor and United Nations ambassador recently had her feminist status questioned by a few individuals who had an issue with her being proud of her body. Within the March edition of Vanity Fair Magazine, Watson posed for many photographs as she promoted her new movie Beauty and the Beast, and discussed many socio-political issues such as her ‘He for She’ campaign. However, it was one particular photo of Watson with her breasts partially exposed that sent the internet into meltdown.
The photo sparked outrage, with many stating that Watson couldn't be a vocal feminist if she was willing to expose herself in the mass media. Others criticised Watson for simply bowing to patriarchal norms and for contradicting previous statements on how the female body is overly-sexualised, as she herself was reducing her person to her body.
But haven’t we learned not to mess with Miss Watson yet?
The activist fired back in a press interview, that there is a ‘misunderstanding of what feminism is [there] is a mess of many misconceptions and misunderstandings … on what feminism is about [it’s about] giving women choice, it’s a not stick with which to beat other women with, it's about freedom, it's about liberation’. Watson perfectly sums up exactly what feminism is and how her breasts have nothing to do with her beliefs, views or how seriously she should be taken as a woman and an activist.
But this story is not a rare one. What Watson has perfectly highlighted is the on-going sexist double standard in the media, and how female strength and empowerment can be mistaken and twisted to represent weakness and oppression.
Feminist writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie defines feminism as ‘the equality of the sexes’. In line with what Watson states, women should be allowed to do, and have the exact same opportunities as men and vice versa. Watson appeared in Vanity Fair with her breasts partially exposed and was attacked, but how many men have we seen completely naked in the media and instead of being attacked are praised for doing so.
I believe that Men and Women should have the ability and the choice to be as revealing of their bodies as they want. No person should be ridiculed, attacked or have their merits and beliefs re-evaluated based on the amount of skin they display.
Simply, men would never face the level of backlash that Watson has received. Actors like Tom Hiddleston, someone who by no means has spoken about gender issues to such an extent as Watson, was praised and awarded the infamous ‘Rear of the year' trophy, for showing his bum in the TV show, ‘The Night Manager'.
The only reason that Hiddleston showed his bum was to sexualise the scene he was in, Watson did not show her breasts to sexualise herself, but to show confidence and strength in herself and her body. It is ironic who became the target of sexism. Both actors have the right to show off their bodies and use them in whatever way they wish, neither deserve any sexist attack.
As a society, we need to re-evaluate the way we view bodies. Too often male bodies are viewed as pillars of strength, while female bodies are viewed as being weak sexual forms. We should only view someone’s body, in the way they wish it to be viewed. Women’s bodies can be sexual, but only if they choose to present themselves in that way.
To be a true feminist, we must support all women and men in their chosen representation of themselves. Just because we want to cover up, doesn't mean we must attack women who don't. We all find strength, confidence, and power in different ways, and must support everyone in exercising their right to do this. This is the feminism I believe in, I practice and one of the main reasons I am proud to be a feminist.
If your feminism isn’t for all women, all men, for all races, genders and sexual orientations, then it isn’t feminism.