Those in the entertainment industry, whether actors, musicians or anyone else associated who are given a public platform to speak their minds, often find themselves espousing political or social opinions on behalf of various causes. The public oftentimes feels as though the artists are merely giving lip service to causes in order to better their media profiles, without realizing the consequences that may come from taking such opinions public. While showcasing her latest role as gender ambassador on Facebook, Emma Watson recently revealed that she faced strong backlash herself for stating her opinions about a cause close to her heart.
During a recent live Q&A session on Facebook, held to spread the word about International Women’s Day in London and the HeForShe campaign for equality, Watson revealed that she herself had faced online threats due to speaking her mind. After giving a speech about feminism in September at the United Nations, the 24-year-old actress was hit by an immediate recoil. A website with the address emmayourenext.com sprang up, threatening to air nude photos of Watson, complete with a countdown until the release of the photos.
The English actress, model and activist was not worried, because she knew there were no nude pictures of her to be found, but she admits to being enraged. “I knew it was a hoax,” said Watson. She was correct. The website was later revealed to be a prank engineered by a self-described “social marketing and PR” agency called Rantic. Months later, Watson reflects on the situation, saying that if anything, the threats against her made her more determined to fight the cause.
The Harry Potter heroine spoke about gender equality during the session, saying that a handful of those closest to her were aware of the issue, but did not feel it was “that urgent,” believing the fight for gender equality to be history. After the immediate reaction which came, according to Watson, “within less than 12 hours” after she spoke out for women’s rights, those same people who felt as though the matter was not as important as Watson was making it out to be were surprised. The Brown University graduate said that “one of my brothers in particular was very upset.”
As the main impetus of HeForShe, Watson’s focus is to inspire men to join the force against gender inequality. The 2014 British Artist of the Year believes firmly that the support of men behind the cause is just as important as that of women. So far, the campaign has drawn the commitment of 240,000 men. Watson also recognizes that the campaign for gender equality is also a cause for the LGBT community and transgender people, saying “this is their movement.”
Watson believes that even everyday gestures can help the cause. She recalled a situation in which she, the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, took a man to dinner and offered to buy both meals, resulting in an atmosphere of awkwardness until they shared an honest conversation about the issues behind the uncomfortable feelings they were both experiencing.
During the Facebook Q&A session, Watson also spoke of the strong influence of her mother during her formative years, as she struggled to be an average teenager while at the same time being globally known due to her appearances in the Harry Potter movies. Citing the “strength and resiliency” engendered in her by her mother, Watson praised the way her mother had raised her to feel as though “what I was thinking and what I was doing and what I was saying were ultimately more important” than the way she looked on the inside, even if Hollywood, the media and the Internet were pushing her to feel just the opposite.
By Jennifer Pfalz