Among other socially important news stories this week – Kim Kardashian posted a selfie.
But alas, not the conventional, head and shoulders, face-drowned-in-make up-with-immacuate-shiny-hair kind. The naked in front of a bathroom mirror kind.
In months, a week or even days, the media excitement and fan frenzy will die down until it’s tossed on the pile of previous mildly shocking celebrity activity, along with her full frontal Paper Magazine photo shoot and her sex tape.
But for now at least, general opinion seems to be divided into two categories: the, “Wow, she’s so hot and confident, good for her!” side, and the “Wow, what an attention seeking little whore” side.
I personally have very mixed opinions on the subject.
Love them or loathe them, we cannot escape the fact that over the last eight or so years, the Kardashian klan have taken over the celebrity ‘tabloid’ world once dominated by Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan. I’ve read arguments that the sudden growth in reality TV and social media was the end of the tabloid, murdering the middle man by letting the viewers and the followers hear it and see it from the horses mouth, making the once untouchable, fantasy like public figures infinitely accessible. E!’s Keeping Up With The Kardashians is arguably the biggest reality show ever made, making a whole family of privileged, non-talented, not extremely interesting individuals the most popular celebrities of this decade. In 2003, Kim Kardashian was a young woman giving Ray-J a blow job and receiving (what looked like the most dull and unsatisfying) cunnilingus (I have ever seen). Eleven years later, she was on the cover of American Vogue. She went from sex-tape-with-a-B-list-Rapper-trash to modern American ‘Royalty’. (Sorry, Will and Kate)
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The fact is, the reason that Kim Kardashian and her family are so famous is prominently due to her appearance in the sex tape. It’s apparently what garnered interest in momager Kris Jenner’s show pitch. So firstly, why people are so shocked that Kim posted a naked selfie I have no idea. Plus, her titties and nooni are ‘modestly’ covered with post-edit black strips – I mean, I’ve already seen her bare vagina in LOVE and Paper magazine and have seen her bare arse one million more times than I will ever see my own. It’s hardly new imagery, is it?
The word ‘feminism’ means different things to different people.
Some purely believe that feminism means ‘the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes’ – the Oxford definition of the term.
Some believe it is the females power to do whatever the hell she wants to do with herself or her own body as long as she’s not hurting anyone else. Some believe feminism means that women shouldn’t be the sexual objects that over centuries they’ve been glorified to be.
So in the same breath, Kim could be seen as the anti feminist and the heroine of feminism, depending on your individual view. Whether she was in control of the sex tape release or not, on some level subconsciously, Kim lost ownership of her body. Anyone with access to the internet could and still can view her body in the act of sex/making-love/fucking, an act which is mostly conducted in private with hopefully loving and comfortable connotations. If it’s true that the tape was released completely against her will, then in some sense Kim was deemed control less and ultimately sexualised in the most horrendous way. Her private life was and is everyone’s property. For Kim or her handlers to turn that awful violation into millions of dollars, a brand and a career is arguably the greatest feminist victory. You can’t argue that Kim’s hustle is second to none. Along with the heavily constructed reality show, social media means that her and her family can be in complete control of what we all see. This selfie is a perfect example of that sentiment; her body is beautiful (as is her bathroom), she took the photo and she released it. Like her body, it is completely hers. Just because we as the public can view it, doesn’t change that. Plus, why does her naked body have to mean that it’s sexual? She isn’t posed in an overtly provocative way. The caption, “When you’re like I have nothing to wear LOL” is directed more to women than it is to men. I mean, it’s just a body. A body that has produced two babies. We all have the same reflection just before we step into the shower, whatever shape or size we are or how styled our hair or faces. If Kim is a whore, does that make Venus de Milo one too? (OMG Venus is such a slut, standing there parading her tits and almost showing her vag! Does she have no shame?)
Call this comparison crazy, but man (humans) ‘created’ Kim Kardashian in the same way he (they) sculpted Venus.
“You painted a naked woman because you enjoyed looking at her, put a mirror in her hand and you called the painting “Vanity,” thus morally condemning the woman whose nakedness you had depicted for you own pleasure.”
― John Berger, Ways of Seeing
And yes, feminism is equality between the sexes. So why is it that men can post nude photos, get their dicks out at every opportunity, moon like ten year olds and walk around with their BARE NIPPLES on show in the summer without a bat of an eyelid?
But on the other hand, I have to admit: there is still a part of me that finds it a little bit… well… sad. I’m currently searching deep within myself to confirm why I feel that while fully standing for the paragraph above. All I can gather is that I find it sad that we, as a Western society, obsessed with appearance, bourgeoisie and celebrity, created the Kardashian-kraze in the first place. The whole image of the family and their whole lifestyle is an astronomical glorification of fame and money as overarching life goals. I find it sad that we have placed someone with no significant spirit, courage, talent, and magnanimity, bravery, intelligence, or perseverance, so high on a pedestal that young girls could look up to her. Kim and her sisters are only really famous for their bodies and the men that they marry, subsequently suggesting that they only know their worth through their appearance, patriarchal acceptance and the male gaze. I don’t know that many pre teen girls to ask, but from what I gather, quite a few of them look up to the Kardashians. Instagram is to them what radio and television was to me growing up – powerfully manipulative contributors to adult psyche. If posting a photo if your naked body is celebrated and then normalised, I have no doubt that young girls will start posting similar things themselves. Kim’s selfie could give a much darker message – your appearance/sexuality is your worth. You are a sexual object.
It’s sad because women shouldn’t have to show off their bodies to be looked up to, or to emphasis their talent, confidence or power. No matter how talented she is, the focus is always predominantly on the female celebrities sexuality.
Of course, negative responses from other celebrities were rife. Kim began tweeting those that had openly criticised her. Among those were Bette Midler (someone who is incredibly successful without ever using her sexuality) with a relatively witty response, and teenage actress Chloe Moretz, who is yet to succumb. Kim went on to age-shame (have I just created a new discrimination?) Bette and “attempted” to slut-shame Chloe over a Nylon cover featuring Chloe and her bare leg. In all honesty, I would have stuck with my initial argument and maybe even respected Kim a little bit if she hadn’t retaliated and had instead marvelled in her own confidence with an unfuckwitable silence. But, who am I to pass comment or to even have an opinion… It’s her life.
Mainly, it’s sad that we care so much about any of this. Perhaps if the sexes were equal (trust me, we are far from it), there wasn’t such intense emphasis on female sexuality, women were not so cautious, conscious or considerate of their appearance and more confident and content within themselves, all we would see when we refreshed our Instagram feeds (maybe there wouldn’t even be a need for Instagram) was a grown woman standing in her bathroom.