On 8 March 2016 was International Women’s Day. A day dedicated to the celebration of various and diverse identities of women. In an endeavour to wish my contemporaries a happy Women’s day via social media, using twitter, I noticed a Kim Kardashian censored nude ‘selfie’ in my news feed. As seen below:
In true Twitter fashion millions of fans and critics reposted and commented mostly with disapprovement of the image. Among the disapproving comments were world renouned women of celebrity status that included the following:
- Bette Midler, who (according to biography.com)is an American singer-songwriter
- Chloë Moretz according to my analysis of her Twitter bio seems to be a famous actress and occassional , covergirl.
- Pink is a world renouned singer-songwriter of punk rock music and ballads.
Now here they are respectively…
The above images of Bette Midler, Chloë Moretz and Pink all exhibit elements of nudity through the selective exposure of their bodies. The only difference between the ‘Kim K celebrity critics’ and the actual Kim Kardashian nude selfie is that she used actual horizontal censor bars for her privates instead of having strategically placed pieces of clothing.
The negative exchange among these women is what academic Kimberle Crenshaw referred to as ‘the virgin Madonna-versus- whore dichotomy’. In Crenshaw’s work on intersectionality and rape culture she explores issues around a female being a victim of rape worthy of justice depending on her sexual chastity or lack thereof. Crenshaw describes ‘the virgin Madonna’ as the modest female with little to no sexual experiences and the ‘whore’ as the sexually promiscuous female that exposes her body.
Herein lies the duplicitous double standard of female sexuality. Where participation in subtle or explicit nudity is deemed ‘acceptable’ for certain women i.e. the ‘modest’ women but not for sexually alternative women.Upon expansion… Granted, Kim Kardashian’s debut was that of a sex tape hence her ‘sexual alternativeness’ HOWEVER instead of becoming the said ‘modest’ or ‘acceptable woman’ to avoid the ‘whore’ label. There are various moments of her celebrity repertoire, in the entertainment industry, where she reclaims that aspect of her identity as a sexual being. More than nudity I think owning your truth as a woman is more empowering and impactful than denial. Bette Midler, Chloë Moretz and Pink are also entertainers that during different times in their careers exploited the very thing that they are critcizing.
Can somebody say: “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”
As a woman, non-constructive criticism of certain women and the praising of others is counter-productive as well as regressive in the greater scheme of ‘women empowerment’ and unified resistance against the policing of the female body.
Chloë Moretz as an adolescent, young woman, who so happens to be a celebrity and has never birthed a baby does not even begin to qualify in giving a mother of 2 and wife advice about “setting goals for young women”. You are the young woman dear, be the “example” you are looking for if Kim’s example bothers you so much. More than just being a mother and wife Kim Kardashian is a businesswoman whose current networth is approximately $85 million.
Although the phrase ‘women empowerment’ is inclusive of all types of adult females it is in no way negating the diversity of womanhood, femininity and unique expression thereof.
Ultimately, the crux of the matter is that as women we should disrupt and challenge the status quo of having to either ‘use our brains’ or ‘our bodies’ i.e. only being smart or sexually expressive. I mean we can be both sexy, smart and more all at the same time we are multi-faceted beings.The absence or presence of clothing on the adult female body does not take away from the accomplishments from the said female body in question. If this bothers you, remember:
Let us build one another and stop the divisiveness on the arbitary basis of “who is not wearing what” antics of slutshaming. We are a global family of women sharing the struggle of our bodies being constantly policed and violated when we choose ‘deviant’ exposure of it. ‘Covered up’ or not choose to be part of the solution and not an addition to the problem.
On Intersectionality: Essential Writings
Book by Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw