Short answer, yes. It’s a much more complicated topic than you think. So we are all aware of the hot topic surrounding Emma Watson and the Vanity Fair shoot she did with the amazing photographer Tim Walker, and it involved boobs. A lot of people are asking the question about how this affects her standing as an outspoken feminist, and some are only scratching the surface.
It’s been a long hard battle against topless lad mags and page 3, so has Emma set us back? I mean, posing topless for an addition to some guys spank bank and posing topless for a woman’s fashion magazine is the same thing right? I mean you could argue that boobs are boobs and the context doesn’t change anything, but the point is context changes everything. Breasts have long been sexualised despite their sole purpose being to provide nutrients for cute little babies. To the straight man, boobs are these mysterious sexual objects that they want to look at whenever they can because to them they’re sexy. To those of us that have breasts, they don’t carry the same amount of appeal, they’re normal. When it comes to displaying them guess what demographic finds them sexual? That's right, the first one. Now lets think about the targeted audience for Vanity Fair, It’s usually women right? It’s very rare that a fashion magazine is catering to the same level of male gaze as a copy of playboy (not that I’m saying it doesn’t cater completely). Because women aren’t usually interested in breasts as sexual objects in the same way straight men are. That is unless they are trying to discredit another woman for letting people know they have boobs.
Julia Hartley-Brewer kicked off the whole ordeal somehow (I mean I don’t know who she is) by tweeting "Feminism, feminism... gender wage gap... why oh why am I not taken seriously... feminism... oh, and here are my (t*ts)!". I honestly can’t tell you what I think about this, I just kind of feel bad. I mean to be living your whole life thinking that your boobs are sexual by default and not stop to think why? To have such a loose grip on what feminism means that you believe you have to cover up certain parts of your body to be taken seriously? Emma Watson obviously doesn’t think like that? right? Oh wait, didn’t she say a very similar thing about (our Lord and Saviour) Beyoncé?
“As I was watching [Beyoncé’s visual album] I felt very conflicted, I felt her message felt very conflicted in the sense that on the one hand she is putting herself in a category of a feminist, but then the camera, it felt very male, such a male voyeuristic experience of her.”
- Emma Watson
I understand that was a while ago, but to be in the middle of such a ‘scandal’ and to not acknowledge something you said like that to me just seems a little off. There is a particular brand of feminism I don’t like, and Emma has been slipping into that territory for a while now. I’m starting to think how she dealt with is really showing her true colours. Emma 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.’. So does that mean Beyoncé’s first visual album wasn’t her choice? I don’t know her personally but I’m pretty sure she made more creative decisions on the project than Emma did on the Tim Walker shoot. So where is the equality in the judgment? I’m getting the feeling that Emma’s recent statements are doing nothing more than covering her own ass, which is really disheartening. Perhaps she has learned and evolved since her Beyoncé statement, but she hasn’t made it clear. To come out an apologise about something and show that she has learned from her mistakes would really help strengthen her argument so why not? It’s something I don’t quite understand, and until it’s been cleared up I’m still going to be suspicious.