Emma Watson vs The Fappening

Copyright: #heforshe

Copyright: #heforshe

Beth Middleton balances the support for Emma Watson’s talk on feminism with the reality of male internet usage, passing round stolen nudes of celebrities, and she asks, can we support one and not the other?

As far as gender equality is concerned there’s been two big events in Western media recently.

…the male voice of the internet is ready and willing to step in on the gender equality discussion.

1. Emma Watson’s empowering speech at the UN on what feminism means to her and why men should be in on the conversation.

2. The delicately-named ‘fappening’ (this link is SFW) where private and compromising photos of stars, the majority of whom were female, were stolen from their supposedly secure online accounts. Certain celebrities’ photos went viral, including Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton and Kaley Cuoco.

What I have found most interesting about these two events is that they tell very different stories. The #HeForShe campaign that Emma Watson introduced at her speech has had a large positive reaction from the Twitterverse and Facebooksphere with dozens of celebrities jumping on the band wagon. This implies that the male voice of the internet is ready and willing to step in on the gender equality discussion.

You would expect then, to have seen wider condemnation of the fappening, and perhaps a refusal on the part of the majority of men to view these stolen images. That’s not what I’ve seen. I’ve seen the majority of those that enter into the discussion (both men and women) saying that these stars have been stupid, that they got what was coming to them, and what sort of idiot would take naked photos of themselves anyway?

…what sort of idiot would take naked photos of themselves anyway?

A respected female star reaches out to men and pleads that they support gender equality but unfortunately many of them are too busy viewing naked photos of Jennifer Lawrence to notice.

My ‘standing up for the victims of the photo leak’ moment happened whilst out at a birthday meal with a close friend. It became apparent that the naked Jennifer Lawrence photos had circulated his work place via email. He assured me that he had not opened them and laughed the whole thing off. But I was cross about it and wouldn’t let it drop. Why hadn’t he said anything? Why hadn’t he told the author of the email that emails like that were not appropriate, particularly not at work?

His response was that if he had said anything he would have been picked on by everyone else in his office. He would have been laughed at and mocked and he has to go and work there, with those people, every day.

If I’m being honest with myself I haven’t spoken out about how angry I am about the fappening.

If I’m being honest with myself I haven’t spoken out about how angry I am about the fappening. How whenever someone jokes about it I seethe a little at how the invasion of these women’s privacy has become a national joke. I only felt confident in telling this close friend what I thought because I knew he wouldn’t judge me or tell me I was taking it all too seriously.

This made me think that, more than ever, men are a victim of gender stereotyping as much as women are. And that Emma Watson’s speech is entirely relevant and entirely needed. In part of her speech she said, ‘both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong’ and maybe, if men felt comfortable in being sensitive and women felt comfortable in being strong, the response would have been different. Those men who are sensitive enough to see what is wrong with the situation would have felt comfortable in speaking out. Those women who are strong enough to have said something wouldn’t be branded as touchy.

And the overwhelming voice will not be scorn and ridicule but support for the victims of a deplorable crime.

Let us know what you think below. I would really like to hear other young people’s opinions and their reactions to both the leaked photos and Emma Watson’s speech at the UN: @rifemag

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