Emma Watson Stands Up for Women’s Right to Laugh

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July 31, 2014;The Guardian

In Turkey, a politician has called on women to cease the heinous practice of laughing in public. Apparently, that disgusting behavior is reserved only for men. The politician, deputy prime minister Bülent Arinç, gave a speech in honor of the holiday Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, reminding women to be “chaste” and to restrict their laughter to the privacy of their homes.

The Deputy PM has unwittingly sparked a social media movement using the hashtags #direnkahkaha (resist laughter) and #direnkadin (resist woman). His most formidable foe in this campaign is “Harry Potter” series star Emma Watson, herself a goodwill United Nations ambassador for women, who quickly tweeted a picture of herself doubled over in laughter in public linked to an article about the deputy PM’s unusual take on women’s laughter. Watson’s power? She has 13.8 million Twitter followers, according to the Guardian.

Unlike the vicious reactions to celebrities who have spoken out on the controversial war in Gaza, Watson’s laughing tweet doesn’t appear to have attracted anything comparable. Her credibility comes from more than her fame and her Twitter followers. Like Mia Farrow and Angelina Jolie, Watson is seen as serious enough by the United Nations to be a goodwill ambassador. The UN doesn’t seem to be perturbed by her activism or Farrow’s—or Jolie’s, for that matter.

Our take? Keep on laughing, Watson! And for others, keep speaking out on the public issues of our time that concern you. Your voices spur those fans who might not otherwise engage in discourse about current events to think, even for a moment, about something serious—even if the serious topic is the right of women to laugh in public. Sometimes to LOL is to make an important statement.—Rick Cohen