The XX Factor

Emma Watson Threatened With Nude Photo Leak for Speaking Out About Women’s Equality

Over the weekend, actress Emma Watson gave a speech supporting the HeForShe campaign, a project run by UN Women in support of women’s equality around the globe. Watson, in her role as a Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women, denounced the negative impact that rigid gender roles have on both men and women. 

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. Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong… It is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum, not as two opposing sets of ideals.

Watson spoke personally about how she came around to feminism, citing, among many examples, how “at 14, I started being sexualized by certain elements of the media.”

Sadly, Watson is continuing to be victimized by that intrusive, objectifying attention. Business Insider reports that users on 4chan, which has been one of the major conduit sites for the stolen celebrity nude photos, have created a website called “Emma You Are Next,” which features a clock purporting to be counting down to a leak of naked photos of Watson. “I think it is right that I should be able to make decisions about my own body,” Watson said in her speech, but the creators of this site, reacting to the speech, are sending the message loud and clear that they think some anonymous people on the internet should be able to usurp that right whenever they please. 

Though there’s no way to know if this is a real threat, or just an ugly prank, Jill Filipovic of Cosmopolitan captured some 4chan users explicitly suggesting nude photo leaks to punish Watson for her outspoken feminism. “That feminist bitch Emma is going to show the world she is as much of a whore as any woman,” wrote one. “She makes stupid feminist speeches at UN, and now her nudes will be online, HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH,” wrote another. [Update, Sept. 24, 2:30 p.m.: It appears that the Emma You Are Next site was a hoax, though the details of how and why are still being hashed out. It’s frustrating to see hoaxers, regardless of their motivations, try to confuse this issue.]

In addition to the clock the website features a photo of Watson wiping away tears. The choice is a telling one, demonstrating that the point of releasing these photos—or threatening to—is not the pleasure of seeing someone naked. After all, there are millions of images of naked women who happen to be consenting available online. It’s about getting those tears, the pleasure of hurting and humiliating a woman who offended you by being unobtainable, and by standing up for other women.