Watson should wear whatever she wants



Emma Watson attends the Metropolitan Museum of Art Met Gala in New York on May 2.

By Shankari Sureshbabu , Columnist

Emma Watson, the world’s favorite witch and women’s rights activist, got some backlash when she posed for a revealing picture in Vanity Fair.

When it was posted, many people criticized the outspoken feminist for being hypocritical. Julia Hartley-Brewer, a British radio presenter, was one of the most vocal about her displeasure. She said that Watson “complains that women are sexualized and then sexualizes herself in her own work. Hypocrisy.” But this, if anything, reveals the mass misunderstanding of what feminism is.

As popular feminist author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie graciously defined for us, a feminist is someone that believes in the social, economic and political equality of the sexes. A lot of people seem to think that this only applies for women who are modest, proper and polite. Or for women who are low-maintenance, not “crazy,” or not “weird.” But women make up half of the world’s population, and feminism is for the empowerment of all of them.

The overt sexualization of women as props and a woman choosing to wear something revealing may seem like similar or correlated things, but I believe they’re very different. Believe it or not, sometimes women just want to look good for themselves.

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    For women, it can be difficult to ride the line between, “I want to look nice” and “I don’t want to be defined by how I look.” But regardless of how women choose to look, that should not be a factor in the respect they receive.

    The most frustrating part is that Hartley-Brewer is a woman herself. I am sure she has, at some point in her life, understood the feeling of being judged for what she is wearing.

    Her criticism of Watson bravely baring her body hurts her rights as much as it does Watson’s. The more women bash other women for being “too risque,” “too loud” or “too out there” to be a feminist is when the true meaning of the movement crumbles from the inside.

    Simply put, Emma Watson can choose how to dress whenever she wants. Feminism celebrates body positivity, and her advocating for women across the world is not diminished because she also sometimes likes to pose for magazine shoots. In fact, feminism fights for the rights for women to be able to do that and still be respected.

    As Watson herself said, “Feminism is about giving women choice. Feminism is not a stick with which to beat other women with. It’s about freedom. It’s about liberation. It’s about equality. I really don’t know what my tits have to do with it.”

    Women every day face this debacle of having to choose to be pretty or to be taken seriously. Feminism in its essence is trying to empower women so that distinction need not be made.

    Why can’t women be brilliant, hilarious and strong while still rocking a mini skirt? Emma Watson and many others out there are trying to make a world where they can.

    Shankari is a sophomore in LAS.

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