Another day, another horde of angry people on the internet who don't understand feminism.
This time, the target of the online outrage is a recent Vanity Fair photo shoot featuring Emma Watson. Some people are accusing Watson of being hypocritical for posing topless while also preaching gender equality.
In one of the photos published in her new Vanity Fair cover story, Emma Watson is pictured topless, with only a strategically-placed, thick lace shawl keeping the photo PG-13.
In the accompanying article, Watson speaks about her activist efforts in gender equality, including how she made sure to reinterpret the Disney princess Belle in a more empowered, feminist lens.
Some people, however, saw a dichotomy with the interview and the topless photograph.
The common claim among Watson's detractors seems to be the actress (or any woman, it would seem) cannot both champion women's rights and also be a sexual being.
This type of attack on famous feminists who embrace their sexuality is absolutely nothing new. Many of the most well-known feminist celebrities of today— from Lena Dunham to Beyoncé — have faced similar criticism from people who believe feminists are required to be buttoned-up and asexual to be taken seriously.
While this incident makes clear that there are still people out there ready to decry any woman who shows some skin, it also showed there were many more people ready to come to the defense of true feminist ideals.
And then, there's my personal favorite response to the criticism:
Responses like these point out the impossible standards that seem to be placed on women: a choice to either be asexual and severe and taken seriously, or to embrace their body and seen as frivolous.
As the author of the piece was asking Steinem, a close friend to Watson, her thoughts on whether Watson's outspoken activism has the potential to grow annoying for her fans, Steinem highlighted the underlying misconception in the question: that a feminist has to be serious and devoid of fun.
If you did a story on a young male actor who was very private and involved in activism, would you think he was too severe or serious? Why do women always have to be listeners? Emma is interested in the world, she is caring, and though she is active she is also joyous and informed... It's possible to be both serious and fun, you know. That response is why men will ask a woman, 'Why don't you just smile, honey?'
Of course, Steinem nails it. So can everyone just stop worrying about a bit of underboob and move on to the bigger issues, please?