Celebrity nude leaks are no threat to feminism

Torn between culture and progressiveness, families are key to female freedom of expression

Yara al-Wazir
Yara al-Wazir
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Emma Watson’s new appointment as U.N. Women’s Goodwill Ambassador was welcomed with positive praise last week. Her speech echoed sentiments that the public and feminists have shared for years: it’s a global struggle that affects everyone. Yet the blogosphere has erupted with threats to leak nude photographs of her.

Although the threats have proved to be a hoax, the very idea that nude photographs are a threat to feminism is oxymoronic; if anything, they highlight the struggles women face with a society that is threatened by their natural form.

Women in the Middle East, including celebrities are not exempt of these issues. Images of Lebanese Olympic skier Jackie Chamoun were released last year ahead of the Sochi Olympics and her apology was unnecessary. Women must not feel the need to apologize for taking such images; it is those who intrude on a woman’s personal freedoms who must apologize.

Public rhetoric is so threatened by the images of nude female bodies that it refuses to accept it, even years into the struggle. The 1970s feminist movement of burning bras during protests and sit-ins was meant to highlight the threats felt by society by these images, and it is dismal that they are still shared to this day.

Putting ISIS militants aside, families are the double-edged sword to gender equality in the Middle East. Torn between culture and progressiveness, families are key to female freedom of expression.

The label “feminism” is an ongoing personal struggle in itself, and as outspoken and vocal as I am of the struggles of feminism, I spent years hating that word and the very idea that I have to fight for my basic rights to freely express myself, let alone speak out on issues such as education and employment.

Torn between culture and progressiveness, families are key to female freedom of expression

Yara al-Wazir

Personally, it was my brother’s support that helped me overcome these hurdles. The support wasn’t directed at me per se. It was seeing his interaction with his female colleagues and peers that made me realize a culture of accepting and tolerant men was one of the key factors to women feeling comfortable enough to express themselves and contribute positively to society.

It was his understanding nature that allowed me to accept the label and made me realize that this is a struggle we all share together. We all have our own ideas of what is right and what is wrong, and what is culturally acceptable and what is not, but what we must remember is that these ideas are ours, and must not be imposed on those around us.

This is a call to every man who has a sister: let her be, let her speak, and let her share. That is the greatest gift you can give to her. The greatest gifts are not looking out for her chastity or making her aware of what society would think or say of her actions, it is supporting her despite of what society would say Although every individual is free to have their own views and expressions, women must feel at liberty to share their views and desires towards equality, just as much as men share them towards inequality.

Nude leaks actually helped the cause

Nude leaks do not threaten feminism, if anything, they helped echo the cause, Misogynistic tendencies are no longer accepted or tolerated, and this very reaction by the blogosphere was simply a repetition of what Watson discussed in her speech.

She expressed her intent to include men in the conversation about women and equality so that their daughters, mothers, and sisters are not sexualized and objectified in the future. At this moment, I would like to extend the invitation to every human being.

Gender equality is not an issue of the genders, it is an issue of humanity; the struggle for equality will not end until we are as comfortable letting our daughters walk to school and travel alone as we are with men.

It is an issue that will not end until women and men are both convinced that in the process of job applications, no one faces prejudice, and that the decision is based solely on ones background and experience rather than gender. The fight for equality will not end when there are threats to releasing male nude images, which doesn’t seem to be an issue in Hollywood or in the Middle Eastern celebrity blogosphere, but rather when the issue of female nudes is no longer seen as a threat or a hurdle.

Yara al Wazir is a humanitarian activist. She is the founder of The Green Initiative ME and a developing partner of Sharek Stories. She can be followed and contacted on twitter @YaraWazir

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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