If you’re a woman who engages publicly in that whole feminism thing, it’s almost inevitable that you will find yourself followed around the internet by a small squadron of the Internet Lady Hate Army, baiting you with disingenuous questions and bad-faith “challenges” and general abuse. If you’re a famous woman, well, that just makes it worse.
Consider the case of Emma Watson, the Harry Potter actress turned UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, who’s been a favorite target for this seething mob ever since she publicly embraced the F-word in a nervous speech before the UN in September 2014.
Only a week ago she faced a torrent of Twitter abuse for the terrible crime of reminding the world of the pro-feminist sentiments of fellow Harry Potter veteran Alan Rickman shortly after she learned of his death.
Now the troll army is targeting her again, this time with a Change.org petition demanding that the actress “[s]pend one week in a Calais migrant camp for feminism (without bodyguards).” The petition-writer, a Melbourne man by the name of Oscar Izard, declares that
In order to show how safe current migration is to Europe, particularly regarding the cause of feminism (I reject wholeheartedly the notion that North African and Middle Eastern migrants are unsafe, and rapists), Emma Watson should spend a week’s holiday in a Calais migrant camp, without guards of course, to show how safe, and how pro feminism these migrants are.
So far the petition has garnered more than 10,000 digital signatures. It’s unclear how many of them are from the likes of “Mike Hunt” and “Amanda Huginkiss.”
Even if you set aside all the ludicrous straw manning going on in the petition — who exactly is arguing that the refugees are feminists? — the petition is pure trollery, aimed at a woman who isn’t even particularly associated with the refugee issue. (Indeed, in reporting on this story, the Independent had to go back to September of last year to find a Tweet from Watson supportive of refugees.)
Watson’s big issues are education for girls and the HeForShe campaign she promoted in her UN speech. The only reason Emma Watson is the target of this petition is that, well, she’s Emma Watson.
Naturally, the increasingly trollish Breitbart has injected itself into the middle of all this, offering a rather strained justification for the petition’s weird focus on Watson.
Ever since she was invited to give a widely praised speech at the UN on the topic, she has become a poster girl of modern feminism. Her simultaneous embrace of female equality, mass migration and the misogynistic non-western cultures brought with it, is widely seen as typical of left wing activists today.
In this context, the petition can be interpreted as an expression of frustration with the contradictions of modern liberal feminism, rather than merely a personal attack on Ms. Watson.
Truly an argument that only a Breitbart reader could love.
The underlying assumption of this supremely bad-faith petition drive is to suggest that if Watson personally doesn’t rush off to embed herself in a refugee camp, this somehow proves that feminist women, and women in general, are terrified of refugees and think they’re all a bunch of dirty rapists.
But the fact is that many women are active in helping refugees already, some of them former refugees themselves, others the Western women who are the real target of the petition; we just don’t hear much about them because they are less famous than Watson.
Had petition-maker Oscar Izard spent any time in the refugee camps himself, he surely would have noticed this.