Emma Watson’s speech on feminism at the UN headquarters on Sept. 21, while not above critique (can we stop ignoring race while talking about the pay gap, please? Because white women actually make more than pretty much everyone else except for white men), was a solid step forward in getting people to acknowledge that feminism is still essential. I was heartened by the collective positive response to Watson’s speech. She talked about about pretty basic stuff, but it was at least a start. Go Emma!
Well, that optimism lasted all of 24 hours. The next day, as reported by Vox, an anonymous group set up a website to threaten Watson with the release of nude photos. Users on 4chan and Reddit applauded the news—one 4chan user even called feminism “a growing cancer” and hoped that the threats would silence Watson.
This August, a video released by feminist gamer Anita Sarkeesian elicited a similar response, with horrific violent and sexual threats from anonymous users forcing Sarkeesian into hiding at a friend’s house.
Ironically, in their attempts to disprove the notion that it is still difficult to be a woman, these anonymous users just proved Watson and Sarkeesian’s assertions.
These extreme reactions to feminist acts increasingly prove how necessary feminism still is. If a woman cannot demand equal representation, equal pay, and basic dignity without being threatened with physical and sexual violence, then why is anyone even arguing whether the movement is relevant anymore?