Feminism is a really complicated and multifaceted topic. At it’s core, feminism is simple: the idea that women should be able to be compensated for their work, be afforded opportunities and receive adequate healthcare in the same way that men are. But, as we burrow deeper into the issue, sometimes feminists themselves find a topic that is divisive, and exploitation vs. self empowerment has proven to be one of those topics.
No matter how busy you are, it’s unlikely that you’ve avoided hearing of the controversy surrounding Kim Kardashian’s latest nude photos that surfaced on her Instagram. This isn’t a singular case of a woman posting a so deemed “scandalous” picture on the popular social media platform, nor is Kim Kardashian the only woman posting nearly-nude photos on the internet. Likewise, criticism from other feminists isn’t unusual when it comes to something like this. The reason this matters? Because it’s created a conversation about intersectional feminism and is looking to be a divisive topic within feminism as a whole, something I find important to address.
Those who believe it’s not a negative thing to post such photos, or any action of the like, have a tight argument. Self publishing images of yourself isn’t exploitative. It’s a matter of desire and free will. If a woman wants to post a naked picture, who are we to tell her not to? If that’s a way she empowers herself, or it is an exhibition of her confidence, then good for her. If you don’t like it, don’t post hateful comments and degrade her, just ignore it. Move along. You’ve got better things to do!
Those who have argued against such images also have a fair argument. Chloe Grace Moretz, teen celebrity, and Bette Midler, legend, both threw some criticisms Kardashian’s way to the effect that she basically isn’t setting a good example for young women who should know, from a young age, that they have much more to offer than their bodies. That’s absolutely true, and something that Kardashian herself probably wouldn’t deny. Though, criticizing a perpetually spandex clad reality-TV star seems like a strange place to start a movement toward fighting objectification of the female body, right?
This isn’t meant to be an article about Kim Kardashian, honestly it isn’t. But she is so famous and so influential that this instance of her making waves within the intersectional departments of today’s feminists is incredibly interesting. If you don’t think Kim’s setting a good example, then don’t follower her and don’t encourage your daughters or friends to do so either. If you think she’s displaying empowerment and confidence, then follow in her footsteps if you’re so inclined.
My point is: who cares? If you want to show everyone your body and how proud of it you are, it’s no skin off my back. If you don’t want to post pictures like that, then fine, I’ll refer back to my previous question: who cares? None of us are an authority on what makes a woman confident, empowered or strong, because those adjectives apply to each person differently. You aren’t a bad feminist if you post naked photos online. You aren’t a bad feminist if you don’t. You ARE a bad feminist if you tear down another woman for making a choice that you wouldn’t make solely because you don’t approve.
As feminists, shouldn’t we agree that if we divide ourselves over such trivial matters as a perpetually scantily-clad celebrity posting pictures on Instagram almost less scandalous than had she been wearing a bikini, we will begin to fragment our power? It’s just like any cause: those who work together are stronger than those divided.