Emma Watson sparked fierce debate around feminism after starring in a photo shoot for Vanity Fair with the underside of her breasts exposed.
The UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, who launched the #HeForShe movement calling on men to join women in the fight for gender equality and whose break-out role was sassy and smart Hermione Grainger in Harry Potter, was criticised for so-called feminist double standards.
Journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer led the charge, tweeting: “Feminism, feminism... gender wage gap... why oh why am I not taken seriously... feminism... oh, and here are my tits!” A heated debate ensued, with Watson’s fans and critics going head-to-head around the age-old debate of female nudity and feminism.
Watson defended the photo over the weekend, saying that feminism is all about giving women a ‘choice’. Ever our feminist hero, here are nine moments where she’s proven to be a fierce fighter for gender equality.
Watson didn't hold back when addressing the Vanity Fair outrage. She told Reuters:
“It just always reveals to me how many misconceptions and what a misunderstanding there is about what feminism is.
"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. It’s very confusing."
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The actress has spoken out on numerous occasions about the beauty standards that women are held to and is a champion of 'being yourself'.
“I don’t have perfect teeth. I’m not stick thin. I want to be the person who feels great in her body and can say that she loves it and doesn’t want to change anything,” she said.
Working in the film industry, which is undeniably ageist when it comes to women, she said: "I’m excited about the ageing process. I’m more interested in women who aren’t perfect. They’re more compelling."
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In 2014, Watson helped launch UN Women's #HeForShe campaign, which encourages men and boys to take action against negative inequalities faced by women and girls.At the time Watson, who is UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, said:
"I am reaching out to you because I need your help. We want to end gender inequality - and to do that we need everyone to be involved. This is the first campaign of its kind at the UN: we want to try and galvanise as many men and boys as possible to be advocates for gender equality. And we don’t just want to talk about it, but make sure it is tangible."
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Watson said she first started questioning gender-based assumptions when she was eight years old and hasn't looked back since.
"At eight I was confused at being called 'bossy', because I wanted to direct the plays we would put on for our parents - but the boys were not," she recalled in a #HeForShe speech.
She said that aged 14, she began to be "sexualised" by the media, and aged 15 her friends started dropping out of their sports teams because they didn’t want to appear "muscly".
"I decided I was a feminist and this seemed uncomplicated to me," she concluded.
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Overall, women can expect to earn significantly less than men over their entire careers. According to The Fawcett Society
, the current overall pay gap for full time workers is 13.9%. Discussing this stat, Watson said:
"The reality is that if we do nothing, it will take 75 years, or for me to be nearly 100, before women can expect to be paid the same as men, for the same work."
She added: “I think it is right I am paid the same as my male counterparts.”
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When you think of feminism, Disney princesses aren't exactly the first (or indeed second) thing that spring to mind. But Watson hopes to change this.
Discussing her character in the remake of Disney classic 'Beauty And The Beast', Watson said that her character takes on the role of inventor, which was Belle's father's role in the original storyline.
She added that Belle is "absolutely a Disney princess, but she's not a passive character - she's in charge of her own destiny".
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Watson is also a fierce opponent of the stereotypes that hold young women and girls back. She said: "I feel like young girls are told that they have to be a princess and fragile. It’s bullshit. I identify much more with being a warrior – a fighter. If I was going to be a princess, I’d be a warrior princess."
She also previously said that young girls should never 'dumb themselves down' with the aim of being attractive to a guy and added: "Girls should never be afraid to be smart."
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In the spirit of promoting gender equality and championing strong women, Emma Watson launched a feminist book club called "Our Shared Shelf", which is conducted through a group on Goodreads
and has more than 37,000 members. In true feminist fashion, the first book Watson chose was Gloria Steinem's memoir 'My Life on the Road'.
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