Emma Watson just got hit with the exact kind of discrimination, sexism, and hate-speech that she is fighting against. The Noah actress, 24, made her voice heard this past weekend by standing up in front of a group at the United Nations in New York City to speak in support of feminist causes, and was swiftly punished for it.
The well-spoken star made headlines on Saturday, Sept. 20, when she gave a thoughtful, expressive speech as the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, launching the HeForShe campaign. As news of her empowering words spread, Watson was met with a strong backlash from an online community.
Users of 4chan, an anonymous Internet sharing forum, threatened to release compromising photos of Watson as retaliation for her stance. Though they have since been removed, derogatory messages about the actress promised to release nudes as a direct punishment.
"It is real and going to happen this weekend," one since-deleted post reportedly read. "That feminist bitch Emma is going to show the world she is as much of a whore as any woman."
Another message reportedly added, "She makes stupid feminist speeches at UN, and now her nudes will be online, HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH."
Though the words are no longer available, users made a website with a countdown clock, threatening the actress that she is "next." Adorned with the 4chan logo, the site shows a photo of Watson crying and includes the foreboding message, "Never forget, the biggest to come thus far." The warning is likely in reference to the recent string of celebrity nude photo leaks, which hit stars including Jennifer Lawrence, Vanessa Hudgens, and Kim Kardashian.
It's the form of aggression and misogyny that Watson decried during her UN speech.
Explaining her path to identifying as a feminist, which included being "sexualized by certain elements of the media" at the age of 14, Watson said, "I decided that I was a feminist. This seemed uncomplicated to me. But my recent research has shown me that feminism has become an unpopular word. Women are choosing not to identify as feminists. Apparently, [women’s expression is] seen as too strong, too aggressive, isolating, and anti-men, unattractive even."
She went on to address male listeners, asking them to join feminist causes at the focus of the campaign. "Men, I would like to give this opportunity to extend your formal invitation," she said. "Gender equality is your issue, too. Because to date, I’ve seen my father’s role as a parent being valued less by society. I’ve seen young men suffering from mental illness, unable to ask for help for fear it would make them less of a man… If men don’t have to be aggressive in order to be accepted, women won’t feel compelled to be submissive. If men don’t have to control, women won’t have to be controlled."