During an interview with actor Forest Whitaker during HeForShe Arts Week in New York — an initiative launched by Watson and the U.N. to promote gender equality — she recalled an encounter that happened to her as a teenager, when photographers attempted to take pictures up her skirt.
“I remember on my 18th birthday I came out of my 18th birthday party, and photographers lay down on the pavement and took photographs up my skirt, which were then published on the front of the English tabloids the next morning”, she said. “If they published the photographs 24 hours earlier, they would have been illegal, but because I had just turned 18, they were legal”.
Watson then remarked on the stark contrast between her treatment as a young woman and that of her male co-stars, Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint.
“Obviously Dan and Rupert, who were my male co-stars, don’t wear skirts, but I think that’s just one example of how my transition to womanhood was dealt [with] very differently by the tabloid press than it was for my male colleagues”.
Watson’s comments are a reminder of how women are treated in the entertainment industry and by the mainstream media in particular. But more than that, it’s a reminder of the double standards for men and women and the objectification, sexism and discrimination against women that sadly still exist within modern society.
A woman is so often treated like an object of desire, and in the entertainment world, actresses are over-sexualized — a perfect example here being how the paparazzi lay in wait to get sexual photographs of Watson.
Watson expanded on her personal experience with discrimination during an interview with Esquire magazine.
“I’ve had my arse slapped as I’ve left a room. I’ve felt scared walking home”, she said. “I’ve had people following me. I don’t talk about these experiences much, because coming from me they’ll sound like a huge deal, and I don’t want this to be about me, but most women I know have experienced it and worse… this is unfortunately how it is. It’s so much more pervasive than we acknowledge. It shouldn’t be an acceptable fact of life that women should be afraid”.