Beyoncé fans are not happy with Emma Watson.
Last week, Watson posed on the cover of Vanity Fair in a somewhat racy outfit that showed off her cleavage and mid-section. Unfortunately, many people criticized the photo, claiming that she can’t be a feminist and be sexual at the same time (in actuality, they are not mutually exclusive). A few days after the uproar died down, Watson responded thoughtfully and critically. But on Monday, the Beyhive tweeted some comments Watson made about Beyoncé in 2014 after her self-titled album “Beyoncé” came out. Early Tuesday morning, Watson responded to the Beyhive.
Here’s a quick timeline to explain why Beyoncé fans are coming after Watson and what’s happened since.
On March 1, Vanity Fair published their March cover photo of Watson in a revealing outfit.
In the spread, Watson is featured wearing no shirt and a tiny piece of white fabric that barely covers her breasts. Immediately, a ridiculous debate began where people questioned her feminist credentials. “Emma Watson: Feminism, feminism… gender wage gap… why oh why am I not taken seriously… feminism… oh, and here are my tits,” British columnist Julia Hartley-Brewer tweeted.
As HuffPost contributor Hannah Cranston wrote so succinctly: “In one simple photo, Watson has inadvertently bared a troubling truth that our society still, in 2017, cannot fathom the possibility that women can both express themselves sexually AND express a desire for equality, simultaneously. It appears as though flaunting one’s figure and a feminist agenda are mutually exclusive.”
On March 5, Watson responded to her critics.
In an interview with Reuters, Watson fired back at critics, pointing out that she most definitely can be a feminist and express her sexuality all at the same time.
“It just always reveals to me how many misconceptions and what a misunderstanding there is of what feminism is,” she said. “Feminism is about giving women choice. Feminism is not a stick with which to beat other women with. It’s about freedom, it’s about liberation, it’s about equality. I really don’t know what my tits have to do with it. It’s very confusing.”
Even Gloria Steinem weighed in a few days before Watson responded, telling TMZ: “Feminists can wear anything they fucking want,” later adding that maybe the people criticizing Watson “have an incomplete idea of who [feminists] are.”
Watch the full Reuters interview below.
On March 6, Twitter users unearthed a 2014 article in which Watson criticized Beyoncé for expressing her sexuality in her self-titled album.
The March 2014 Wonderland Magazine article was a discussion between Watson and Rookie Magazine editor-in-chief Tavi Gevinson. Although the issue was not available online until Tuesday morning, many critics cited a 2014 write up from The Cut that covered the original interview.
One notable topic at the time was Beyoncé’s new album “Beyoncé,” which dropped a few months prior. The album was heralded as intrinsically feminist, with empowering songs like ***Flawless, which sampled Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s speech “We Should All Be Feminists.”
This is Watson’s quote from the article that many people are taking issue with:
As I was watching [the videos] I felt very conflicted, I felt her message felt very conflicted in the sense that on the one hand she is putting herself in a category of a feminist, but then the camera, it felt very male, such a male voyeuristic experience of her and I just wondered if you had thoughts about that or if you had any of your own thoughts about any of it really…
Many Twitter users were not happy with Watson, calling her hypocritical.
In Watson’s full quote, the actress admits, conversationally, that she hadn’t “really formulated [her] own ideas” about Bey’s album, but goes on to ask Gevinson her thoughts on the album.
While asking Gevinson her question, she says:
My friend and I sat and watched all the videos back-to-back and I was really conflicted… On the one hand she is putting herself in a category of a feminist, this very strong woman ― and she has that beautiful speech by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in one of her songs ― but then the camera, it felt very male, such a male voyeuristic experience of her and I just wondered if you had thoughts about that?
Here’s a screenshot of Watson’s full thought on Beyoncé and her album:
Early March 7, Watson responded to the Beyhive.
On Tuesday morning, she posted a screenshot of part of the original article with certain parts highlighted in yellow. The first part highlighted is the quote circulated by critics on Monday. The second highlighted area reads:
She does make it clear that she is performing for [Jay-Z]. And the fact that she wasn’t doing it for a label, she was doing it for herself and the control that she has directing it and putting it out there, I agree is making her sexuality empowering because it is her choice.
Wonderland also tweeted a screenshot of the interview and re-published the full interview online.
Read the full tweet below. (If you can’t read this on mobile, click here.)
Many people applauded Watson in her mentions, with one Twitter user asking: “When someone’s feminism differs from our own, or does not meet our standards, do we have to drag and them for being a ‘bad feminist?’”
All too often, our culture is more ready and willing to criticize a woman of color’s feminism than we are that of a white woman. Understanding that feminism can be a little different depending on the person is integral to a productive conversation. What it comes down to is choice: A woman’s choice to openly express her sexuality or not; her choice to wear revealing clothing or not; her choice to access safe and affordable reproductive healthcare; and so on and so forth.
As one Twitter user wrote to Watson: “Emma Watson’s feminism might not look like Beyoncé’s feminism but both are valid and positive.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story stated incorrectly that Watson responded to Beyhive critics on March 8. She responded on March 7.