At the end of last week, a photo of Emma Watson in Vanity Fair in which her breast were somewhat revealed, sparked controversy when Julia Hartley-Brewer, a British radio presenter and commentator tweeted “Feminism, feminism…gender wage gap…why oh why am I not taken seriously…feminism…oh, and here are my tits!”
Now, in my opinion, the question of whether the photo is indicative of hypocrisy on the part of Emma Watson, does not really require discussion. The firm answer is no. As Gloria Steinem, one of the most high profile feminists, said “Feminists can wear anything the fuck they want.”
Sexualisation or Liberation?
However, what this ‘debate’ has exposed is a serious issue with the way in which some women view and treat other women. The photo only became ‘sexualised’ because breasts, by some (women), are perceived as inherently sexual. The image should be sparking a feminist debate because of the fact that breasts are still viewed as inherently erotic, and even minor exposing of them is perceived as utterly unacceptable, while it is socially acceptable, even admirable, for men to take their top off. What is worse is that it is not men perpetuating the idea of breasts as intrinsically sexual, not the male objectifying the female, as they are so often accused of doing, but other women.
An incontrovertible problem, with the attitude of women towards their counterparts has been brought to light by this ‘debate’, one which needs to be addressed in order for feminism to move forward. A discussion needs to be started that will teach us to love and respect ourselves and each other. How can we fight for equality if we constantly seek to knock other women down, to beat each other with the ‘bat’ of feminism? The answer, clear and simple, is that we cannot. Feminism, from its inception, has had many strands, disagreements and divides, and this can, at least be understood to have had an influence on the fact that it has yet to have achieve complete success. In order for it ever to do so, we women need first, to unify, acknowledge, and accept our differences, appreciating that we are all fighting the same fight- for equality. Until we do so, the movement will be forever inhibited, the fault of no one but ourselves.