‘Boobs are not news’, claim feminists and anti-Page 3 campaigners. But, it seems, boobs are news – or at least Harry Potter actress Emma Watson’s boobs are news. Watson posed semi-topless for a shoot in Vanity Fair, and, since then, war has broken out among feminist tweeters over whether or not this means she is still a feminist.
Among those giving Watson flak for baring some under-boob was professional prude Julia Hartley-Brewer, who tweeted, ‘Feminism, feminism… gender wage gap… why oh why am I not taken seriously… feminism… oh, and here are my tits!’. It seems the Talk Radio host thought it was contradictory that the self-acclaimed feminist Watson would pose for a non-serious fashion shoot and continue to make semi-serious political arguments. Critics of Hartley-Brewer called out her ‘sexism’ for claiming that a woman could not be ‘sexy and serious’ at the same time.
Watson defended herself in a press interview, saying she was ‘quietly stunned’ at the reaction to her breasts. ‘Feminism is about giving women choice’, she said. ‘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.’
The furore over Watson’s breasts is a storm in a teacup. The only people to take issue with the shoot were Hartley-Brewer and journalist Giles Coren, who made some idiotic remarks on Twitter about the size of Watson’s breasts. Hardly shocking. The shoot itself wasn’t controversial at all. In fact, it was really quite boring. Watson defended the pictures as ‘interesting and beautiful’, and said she was ‘creatively involved and engaged’ with the shoot. In truth, she isn’t even topless – she is wearing a see-through mesh shirt with a jacket covering all but a part of her breasts. It was a standard fashion shoot, not a scandal.
But what this faux panic over breasts does reveal is how warped feminism’s idea of choice and equality is. Watson claimed that feminism was about ‘choice’. But contemporary feminism’s stance on nudity and breasts in particular has been anti-choice for quite some time. 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’. Feminists can’t seem to make up their minds: are women publicly baring their boobs good feminists, or bad women?