The backlash was swift. Julia Hartley-Brewer, a British radio presenter and commentator, accused Watson of being hypocritical.
“Feminism, feminism… gender wage gap… why oh why am I not taken seriously… feminism… oh, and here are my (t*ts)!” Hartley-Brewer tweeted.
She later defended her tweet, saying Watson “complains that women are sexualised and then sexualises herself in her own work. Hypocrisy.”
Her comments launched a heated debate on social media.
Watson, whose “Beauty and the Beast” remake comes out this month, said she was stunned by the vitriol she’s received.
“They were saying that I couldn’t be a feminist and have boobs,” she said in an interview with Reuters.
She said she was also surprised by the “misunderstanding” that exists around what feminism means.
“Feminism is about giving women choice. Feminism is not a stick with which to beat other women with. It’s about freedom. It’s about liberation. It’s about equality. It’s not — I really don’t know what my t*ts have to do with it.”
Watson, 26, has been a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador since 2014. That year, she spoke at the United Nations headquarters for the launch of the “He for She” campaign, which encourages men and boys to support gender equality.
“We want to end gender inequality — and to do that we need everyone to be involved,” Watson said.
“The more I have spoken about feminism, the more I have realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. … For the record, feminism by definition is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.”
The former “Harry Potter” star has also traveled to Bangladesh and Zambia to promote girls’ education, according to her UN Women profile.
So what does Gloria Steinem, arguably the most high-profile feminist, think about this controversy?
Steinem laughed at the notion that Watson was a “bad feminist” because she appeared in a revealing photo.
“Feminists can wear anything they f****** want,” Steinem told TMZ. “They should be able to walk down the street nude and be safe.”