THE BLOG
09/23/2014 07:26 pm ET Updated Nov 23, 2014

Dear Hackers: Your Nude Photo Threats Against Emma Watson Only Help The Women's Rights Cause

Robin Marchant via Getty Images

It is deeply satisfying to watch the dastardly actions of bullies backfire spectacularly. Such has been the case with the hackers who are threatening to release nude pics of Harry Potter's Emma Watson because of recent comments she made supporting feminism as UN Women's Goodwill Ambassador. On the online forum 4chan, a countdown clock to the release of said pics has been posted, with one comment noting, "She makes stupid feminist speeches at UN, and now her nudes will be online."

The threat is clearly designed to tear Watson down and undermine her women's rights efforts. In reality, all it's spurred is a fiery retaliation against the hackers -- and more publicity, support for Watson's cause.

Suddenly, Watson's work with UN Women -- which was previously getting minimal coverage -- is all over the place. While justly attacking the hackers as "vile" and "grotesque," these stories are showering attention on the UN's HeForShe campaign, the international effort to empower men in the fight for global gender equality that Watson has been championing.

But here's the real beauty of the counterblast against the hackers: consciously or not, it's captured the essence of the gender-inclusiveness at the heart of the UN initiative. In the wake of the photo leak threat, both genders have stepped up to rah-rah Watson, including male celebs such as Simon Pegg, James Van Der Beek and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Slate's Phil Plait, who powerfully wrote in a story today:

Some will go to any lengths to oppress women; loathsome knuckle-dragging Men's Rights Advocates and their ilk have already shown what they will do in order to shut women up. I've seen many, many media outlets make that the story, but I refuse to do so; they crave the attention, and I will not feed it to them. This isn't about them. It's about women, and men supporting them. It's about all of us. And doing this isn't white-knighting, it isn't mansplaining, and it isn't weak, or unmanly. It is, quite simply, doing what's right and standing up for others.

Not only has the scandal emboldened men to voice their support for women's rights, but as an extra added bonus, these hackers have shown just how important such a campaign it is -- single-handedly refuting any claims that gender inequality and ugly misogyny are no longer a problem.

So thanks, online trolls, for launching the most successful and effective PR blitz for the UN HeForShe campaign to date! We appreciate your help in fighting back against jerks like you.

This story first appeared at Ravishly.com, an alternative news+culture women's website.