Emma Watson posed in a fairly revealing top for Vanity Fair and some folks are calling her out, saying the image clashes with her feminist views. The idea that an outfit dictates a person’s politics is ludicrous, and Watson’s reaction strikes the perfect tone between anger and bewilderment. People who understand that bare skin and feminism aren’t exclusive concepts have also rushed to defend her right to be photographed wearing whatever she wants, and to agree with her remarks. Watson is correct that her tits have nothing to do with feminism, and that feminism is “not a stick with which to beat other women.”
Which means it’s time for her brand of feminism to evolve and include women of color.
Watson “felt very conflicted” watching Beyonce’s self-titled visual album because it had a feminist theme, yet it looked like Beyonce had surrendered to the male gaze. IE, you can’t call yourself a feminist and grind / wear outfits that reveal your thighs / sing about hot monogamy. Your sexiness has grown too large, leaving no room for feminism.
This supposes that while Watson is intelligent and self-aware enough to wear a revealing top as a statement of empowerment, Beyonce is not. It assumes that Beyonce is unaware of the context of her performance. It’s belittling and condescending. It’s policing her black skin – how much of it she can show, and in what way she can show it – and rejecting the feminist identity she’s claimed for herself.
As she is experiencing the same judgment she directed toward Beyonce a few years back, Emma Watson has an excellent opportunity to learn and grow. The UN organization she spoke for, HeforShe, focuses on outreach to men in support of feminism. I hope her next move is to reach out to women of color.
Without them, feminism is a hollow concept.