Emma Watson has been a public figure since she was 10-years-old, and she's always been smart enough to keep her personal life private. Aside from a smattering of boyfriends, her studies at Brown University and a vague notion of her spiritual affiliations, there's little anyone knows about the actress' private life.

Emma WatsonEmma Watson continues to fight for women's rights as she is attacked over and over again

There's something deeply admirable about the 26-year-old's ability to stay out of the spotlight when she's not shooting or promoting a movie or working for UN Women, which makes it all the more upsetting for her when her personal accounts are hacked. For some reason, the bottom feeders of journalism are obsessed with trying to uncover incriminating or scandalous images of her - despite the fact that she knows better than to take any, or let any be taken of her.

What is it about the 'Beauty and the Beast' star that makes people so determined to uncover nude photos of her? The internet went into uproar when she posed for a series of artistic photographs in Vanity Fair this month. In one picture, she wore a sheer blouse and a white bolero that lay over half of her breasts, and people were terribly upset that you could NEARLY see her nipples. Tabloids were calling it a 'topless photo' when it clearly wasn't. They accused her of being a hypocrite, tried to claim that she once criticised Beyonce over the same thing, and she was left utterly baffled as to why her decision to bare skin was anti-feminist.

Now, since it emerged that a selection of her private photographs had been stolen and leaked online, various publications immediately started reporting about 'Emma Watson's nude photos'. There were no nude photos. They were images of her trying on a variety of outfits with her stylist two years ago. Even after her publicist explained this, many of the headlines simply turned to 'Emma Watson's "nude" photos'. Even in an article from The S*n newspaper, they cropped an image of her in a strapless dress at a point just below her shoulders to make it look as if she were naked in the image.

Even if she knows that hackers will never get what they're after, it doesn't make Emma Watson feel any less violated that people are trying. It's not about the content of the photos and it never has been. It's about a sexist bitterness towards her where people are determined to push her off her high horse of feminism and discredit her as a worthy ambassador for ambitious women and girls everywhere.

'After I gave my speech [at the UN] there was a website that was set up threatening to release naked photographs of me', she said in a HeForShe interview in 2015. 'I knew it was a hoax, I knew the pictures didn't exist, but I think a lot of people that were close to me knew gender equality was an issue but they didn't really think it was that urgent... I was upset that the media immediately reported it as fact without any evidence to the contrary and it just publicized something that was really negative.'

More: Emma Watson is a victim of photo hacking

In the end, that's what she's been targeted for. She's an intelligent and beautiful, as well as kind and diplomatic, woman. She doesn't use her sexuality to make headlines, and she harnesses all that publicity in raising awareness about sexism all over the world. In a Hollywood/internet culture where no-one can hide their flaws, where less-than-flattering post-gym shots are taken of female models and spread across front pages, and emails are hacked to uncover uncomfortable remarks about other celebrities, those traits are basically deplorable.

Emma Watson realised this when she was 15 or 16-years-old and an image surfaced online of her posing with a bottle of beer. It was a wake-up call for Emma, who began to realise just how little she had to do to be pounced on. In general it seems that the media want to capitalise on themes of equality, but while this constant attack on Emma Watson's character continues, it is becoming dangerously clear that we have a long way to go to see an equality between men and women.