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Emma Watson: Legal Action Over Leaked Photos

The ‘Beauty and the Beast’ actress is taking legal action over the leak of allegedly nude photos of her.

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Recently, actress and UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson came under fire for a racy Vanity Fair shoot in which she posed braless for the cover. Many critiqued her choice to participate in a shoot that exposed her body and claimed that it directly contradicted her position as a feminist. British broadcaster Julia Hartley-Brewer took to her Twitter to poke fun at Watson, as she believed the photo sent mixed messages:

However, Watson was quick to fire back at her critics in an interview with Reuters, in which she defined what feminism means to her:

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.

She called the photos “interesting and beautiful,” and a large majority of her fans stood by her as well, tweeting their own opinions back to Hartley-Brewer:

https://twitter.com/_MangoPrincess_/status/836911680214958080

Despite the rallying of her fans, it seems that Emma Watson’s issues with scandalous photographs are far from over. In a statement emailed to TIME, her publicist explained that legal actions are being taken in the wake of private images of the star being shared online. The statement was kept short, explaining that “photos from a clothes fitting Emma had with a stylist a couple of years ago have been stolen. They are not nude photographs. Lawyers have been instructed and we are not commenting further.”

Actress & UN Special Ambassador Emma Watson addresses anniversary gathering.UN ambassador Emma Watson to mark the second anniversary of HeForShe at MOMA. HeForShe is campaign initiated by the UN Women designed to encourage men and boys to take action against all forms of gender inequality. It was formally inaugurated at UN Headquarters on 20 September 2014 and led by UN Ambassador Emma Watson.
Actress & UN Special Ambassador Emma Watson addresses anniversary gathering.UN ambassador Emma Watson to mark the second anniversary of HeForShe at MOMA. HeForShe is campaign initiated by the UN Women designed to encourage men and boys to take action against all forms of gender inequality. It was formally inaugurated at UN Headquarters on 20 September 2014 and led by UN Ambassador Emma Watson.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time the star has been threatened with nude photos. In 2014, Watson was the victim of what ended up being a hoax, in which a website called EmmaYouAreNext.com claimed to be in possession of nude photos of her. The stunt is thought to be a reaction to a speech she gave at the U.N. about women’s rights. Although at the time Watson told The Guardian that she “knew the pictures didn’t exist,” she was still livid at how easily the concept of such photos could undermine her efforts to discuss gender equality.

She later took to her Twitter to discuss her disappointment with those who do not empathize with female celebrities that are subject to violations of privacy:

It is no secret that celebrities are constantly forced to deal with invasions of privacy, and that they understand that this is a consequence of their lifestyles. However, there is a big difference between a paparazzi snapping a photo of a celebrity on the street and a hacker illegally stealing and posting intimate photos of women online. The anonymity provided by the Internet allows people to commit such a sexual crime with little fear of punishment – it took two years to find the hackers behind 2014’s “Celebgate,” the scandal in which over 100 celebrities had their iCloud and Gmail accounts hacked, resulting in the posting of their nude photos online. The five years of jail time the two hackers are facing has not made much of a statement in discouraging the continuation of practices like photo and sex-tape leaks, either.

Actress Mischa Barton (R) and her Attorney Lisa Bloom (L) hold news conference on March 15, 2017 in Woodland Hills, California.
Actress Mischa Barton (R) and her Attorney Lisa Bloom (L) hold news conference on March 15, 2017 in Woodland Hills, California.

Just this week, Mischa Barton was a victim of ‘revenge-porn,’ a new trend targeting women that involves the distribution of sexually-explicit videos of a person without their consent. In a press conference on March 15th, Barton sat beside attorney Lisa Bloom as she gave an emotional statement about her experience:

“This is a painful situation, and my absolute worst fear was realized when I learned that someone I thought I loved and trusted was filming my most intimate and private moments, without my consent, with hidden cameras. Then I learned something even worse: that someone is trying to sell these videos and make them public. I came forward to fight this not only for myself but for all the women out there.”

Bloom’s statement was eerily close to statements given by Watson and other celebrity victims of exploitation:

“Miss Barton and I stand for a woman’s right to choose what images of her own body will be made public. You have no right to exploit her or any woman for revenge or financial gain.”

Actors Justin Long and Amanda Seyfried attend 'China: Through the Looking Glass', the 2015 Costume Institute Gala, at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 4, 2015 in New York City.
Actors Justin Long and Amanda Seyfried attend ‘China: Through the Looking Glass’, the 2015 Costume Institute Gala, at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 4, 2015 in New York City.

Similarly, Les Miserables (2015) star Amanda Seyfried has also had photos of her performing sexual acts with ex-boyfriend Justin Long posted on the website Celeb Jihad, which is infamous for its explicit content regarding celebrities. Although she has not made a statement, TMZ and Gossip Cop reported that her attorney sent a cease-and-desist letter to the website demanding that the photos be removed.

The common threads between all of these situations listed above say a great deal about how society as a whole views women in the public eye: as commodities, as body parts, as public property, but most certainly not as people. It is also worth noting that this list does not even begin to scratch the surface of the larger number of victimized female celebrities. The question remains: how many women have to fight back before any real change is made?

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