You might think that the title of this post is crazy and how could anyone be thankful for the disgusting and down right abusive actions of individuals who have made threatening remarks on the Internet regarding the release of naked pictures. If you don’t know what I’m talking about please read this.
It was only yesterday that I shared the magnificent and celebrated video of Watson’s impassioned speech at the UN. My facebook feed was (and still is) filled with shares of the speech by my female friends. It seemed as though for once, the ideals of feminism were being dished out in such a way as to make them digestible. I felt like a lot of women were saying, “Yes!” and a lot of people (both men and women) were starting to feel included in the message. I think that the HeforShe campaign is brilliant because it reminds us that feminism and equality are not female-only fights. We all (men, women, and everyone in between and beyond) have the right to push back against gender inequality.
Such a beautiful moment it was, that for a second there I could even imagine that everyone who saw the speech felt like I did and like so many of my friends did. I felt that perhaps everyone could see how great this will be for all of us. But it is not so.
Within 24 hours there was news that members of 4chan, which is responsible for a lot of these celebrity photo leaks, were threatening to expose Watson next. Disgustingly, one member wrote, “That feminist bitch Emma is going to show the world she is as much of a whore as any woman”.
Since reading about this, I have shared my disgust and repulsion with others on Facebook and I have noticed how my friends have commented with visceral distaste for these actions. It would seem that NOT EVERYONE wants equality. Should we be shocked? Should we be surprised? How do we think patriarchy and misogyny work? It is naïve to believe that there aren’t millions of people around the world who are agents of inequality.
So yes, it is shocking but really it shouldn’t be. It is the status quo. It is what women have had to live with since the beginning of time. It is – dare I say it – normal.
But what I love about these idiots outing themselves like this is that it has gotten people’s backs up. Watson’s speech was so moving, so genuine that it connected with many of us in a very deep way. And thus these sexist, misogynistic remarks from the 4chan members cut even deeper. Their abuse affects all of us. Their words sting, their message appalls and their hatred jumps out at us. If it weren’t for the fact that many of us were united in our shared appreciation and awe of Watson’s speech the day before, then we wouldn’t have all felt the distinct slap against the preverbial face the next day. We all stood up, heads held high, for just one second. We looked at ourselves, at the female race, and felt pride and strength and courage. And within 24 hours we experienced first hand what it is like to be put in our collective place, to have the wind knocked out of us.
I am talking collectively now but I want to remind you that individually women experience this kind of abuse and worse, each and every day. I want to remind you that there are women who do not feel they have the right to speak their minds, do not have the right to choose what is done to their bodies, and do not have the right to protest because as soon as they do, they get silenced. Now we all know what that feels like if only for a second. We know how unfair and how petty and how sad it is that a man should feel the need to assert his dominance by destroying the honour of a woman. But I am glad we know how it feels. Because I can assure you there were some who were not aware of how bad it is. There are still some who say, “Oh but women have it so good now, women’s lib was so successful, things have changed so much”. Yes things have changed but that doesn’t mean that the struggle is over.
So, now you know. Everything in Emma’s speech still stands true. And no, this is not someone else’s problem. It is for all of us to deal with. We have to feel the pain now of this atrocity, we have to witness the abuse to know how bad it really is. We need to recognize that this is exactly what is going on and that it has never been more relevant to fight, actively fight, for equality!