A heated debate on Emma Watson’s breasts
Cherry Wilson has a question for BBC viewers to chat about: ‘Is Emma Watson anti-feminist for exposing her breasts?’ Watson – young, attractive, feted, middle-class and rich – did not expose her breasts on Page 3 or in a Stag do film. She gave us a flash of bosom inside the reassuringly expensive Vanity Fair magazine. For milk-fed sops who’ve never escaped the nipple and those others who demand we #freethenipple (from what?), Emma’s are not on view. Her breasts are not served to us in the manner of Saint Agatha on the red carpet at a TV awards do. All we see is part of her bosom, no more than you’d see if Emma pulled on a bikini and asked us if we were ‘Beach Body Ready’.
Cherry Wilson says Emma Watson’s breasts have ‘sparked a fierce debate on social media about what it means to be a feminist’. We thought feminism was about expanding freedom. It turns out its about scoring points on Twitter, pursing your lips, arguing for censorship and seeing deep-meaning in a nice gel’s cleavage.
LBC radio presenter Radio Julia Hartley-Brewer opined on Twitter: “She complains that women are sexualised and then sexualises herself in her own work. Hypocrisy.” Sexy? That’s a matter of interpretation. The pictures of Watson are pretty dull. Flick through any fashion mag – especially those really pricy ones – and you see more flesh than in a 1980s Argos catalogue.
Wilson considers the evidence and wonders, ‘So can you bare your breasts and still be a feminist?’ It’s a remarkably stupid question, not least of all because it’s laced with snobbery. Emma’s one of the BBC’s ‘us’ – a strong, knowing liberal who will get ’em out with a wry look and parodist’s nous. She not one of ‘them’ – the weak working-class woman who gets ’em out for cash in top shelf magazines and for a laugh at Aintree.
“Emma Watson has done more for women and for young girls than most of us put together,” says Sam Smethers, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, ‘the UK’s largest membership charity for women’s rights’. How so? “She’s an empowered woman who is posing for a very tasteful image,” says Sam. “She’s not being exploited, she doing it in a controlling position. It’s a positive use of her body.”
Victoria Jenkinson, 20, a member of Girlguiding, adds: “A woman should be able to choose what she wants to do. This is what feminism is all about in 2017.” Putting a date on feminism implies it’s an evolving standard.
On the plus side, at least Emma breasts look homemade. When Elle magazine pumped out ‘This is what a feminist looks like’ t-shirts, it was soon revealed they were made by women working for 60p an hour in Mauritian sweatshops. If we’re seeking out trends, the important and voguish thing is not to be a feminist, but to look like you are. All the excellent campaigners who fought for female choice and equality are now on par with a cheap schmutter.
“Feminism is about giving women choice,” said Watson as the world appraised her artfully staged photos. “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.”
Yours, not much. But getting them out in magazines, plenty. As Ella Whelan notes, ‘The No More Page 3 campaign called for the banning of boobs from the pages of tabloid newspapers like the Sun, because, it claimed, pictures of topless women have no place in print media. However, the official campaign’s Facebook page celebrated Watson’s shoot, sharing an article that said ‘Emma Watson’s boobs prove we still need feminism’.
Blimey! If feminism is only of interest because Emma’s breasts are on display, how on earth did it become so important?