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Equal rights

Dagmar Breitenbach
September 24, 2014

Gender equality is "your issue, too," actress Emma Watson told men as she launched a UN campaign for gender equality. The reaction: praise, support - and tons of hate mail.

Emma Watson and Ban Kin Moon
Image: picture-alliance/Photoshot

Sometimes, standing ovations and hate campaigns can be just moments or inches apart.

When actress Emma Watson, 24, helped kick off a campaign on gender equality this past weekend, she received a flood of pledges from around the world, including from fellow celebrities and politicians.

The British actress, who rose to fame as Hermione in the Harry Potter films, spoke in her role as a United Nations Women's Goodwill Ambassador in New York on Saturday, launching the HeForShe campaign to unite men and women for gender equality.

Benefits of equality

"We want to end gender inequality - and to do that we need everyone to participate," Watson said in her moving speech to the UN. "We want to try and galvanize as many men and boys as possible to be advocates for change."

Unnecessary hoax

But for all the positive responses on the Internet and social media to her moving speech, the young feminist also received hate mail and threatening messages.

On the 4chan online message board, someone created a site with a countdown, threatening to release nude photos of the actress - which would make her the next victim of a series of leaked nude pictures. Anonymous 4chan posters claimed the release of such photos would hurt her credibility as an ambassador for gender equality.

On Twitter, users have also spread a fake report of the young feminist's death under #RIPEmma hashtag.

Others, however, said people should take Watson's words to heart: "If we stop defining each other by what we are not and start defining ourselves by what we just are - we can all be freer and this is what HeForShe is about -it's about freedom."

So far over 100,000 people have liked the HeForShe Facebook page and over 101,500 people joined the UN's HeForShe online movement.

If you haven't seen Watson's speech, it's here: