In case you missed it this week, Emma Watson bared her breasts. Kinda. Just a little peekaboo for a magazine shoot, but it was enough to get certain feminists in a tizzy. How dare Ms. Watson show her boobies! What kind of feminist participates in partial nudity? Where all the world can see it! *gasp* In true Emma Watson fashion, she gave the naysayers a great big pfffffffffffft! And she had Gloria Steinem in her corner. Take that, “good” feminists! All of this had me thinking: Who decided what constitutes good feminism and bad feminism? Why do some feminists view a sexy photo in a less-than-feminist light, while other feminists throw their fists in the air and offer up a “You go, girl!” This is just another example of how the feminist movement is far from being unified. It seems, at times, that we aren’t even on the same team.
Feminism does not bring to mind any one definition, something clear-cut to help us make a list of what a feminist does and does not do. And even inside the movement we still have marginalization of certain segments of society. While the overall consensus would seem to be that the feminist movement is about equality for women and female empowerment, we seem to be divided at times on what that equality and empowerment should look like. And how we should go about realizing those goals. Part of the problem seems to be that we all value certain issues differently. A stay-at-home mom might not be as invested in fighting for equal pay. A cisgender female who has a good job and some semblance of security might not identify with a trans female who just wants to be able to go pee in the ladies room without a ruckus. Even within this issue, there will be those who insist that trans females and their needs shouldn’t fall under the trans umbrella, while others champion for all women regardless of what the birth certificate shows.
The Emma Watson story took a turn into “racism” territory when people brought up the fact that Watson criticized Beyonce, saying Beyonce was pandering to the male gaze on her album cover. This seeming hypocrisy pissed off a few people who felt like Watson was saying that white women can be sexy and seductive–and feminist–but if a black woman does the same, she’s exhibiting bad feminism. Do I believe that Emma Watson was implying that? No, I don’t. But I do believe that the fact that some people’s minds went immediately to racial hypocrisy has to mean that there is some validity to their argument. All of this highlights the fact that until we all stop looking for things to divide us and instead look for our common threads , we will never be cohesive or effective.