When we thought 4chan had threatened to leak nude pictures of Emma Watson as retaliation for her United Nations speech on feminism last week, it was outrage-on-internet-business as usual. After all, women being verbally attacked and sexually threatened for speaking up is nothing new. Finding out that it was all part of a hoax, however, means He-for-She-gate is a full-blown meta-misogynist clusterfuck.
Rantic Media (also known as Social VEVO), the supposed marketering bros behind the threat – hoax or no, it was still a threat – swears that the goal was to bring attention to the sexism of 4chan and the recent celebrity photo leaks. But sexually threatening an outspoken woman to shine a light on how outspoken women are sexually threatened – well, that’s idiotic at best. The Emma Watson hoax was a cravenly opportunistic move to gin up attention using a real issue, a real woman and real fear that women and marginalized groups across the internet face constantly. That’s not marketing or consciousness-raising: it’s harassment.