In Defense of Kim Kardashian, Lady Godiva, and the Nude Selfie by @voldemortsbicep

A couple of weeks ago, an irrelevant slug known as Piers Morgan yet again criticized Kim Kardashian, Madonna, and others for their “ass-baring stunts.” He doubled down on his earlier ill-received comparison of Kardashian and Emily Ratajkowski to famous Sufragette Emmeline Pankhurst.

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He asked, “Can real women stand up & attack this nonsense please?”

I would be happy to!

Earlier this week, Morgan wrote a column for the Daily Mail, in which he asked, “Does any smart, intelligent, independent woman actually DISAGREE with me?”

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(Spoiler alert: Um, yes.)

Hi. I’m a real woman. At least, I think I am. I’m not sure what that phrase means, and evidently women that show their own bodies (that is, those square inches of their bodies that have been deemed forbidden) are not real women, according to Piers Morgan, the irrelevant slug. I also doubt he would think I’m smart, intelligent (those are synonyms, pal), or independent, since I have a habit of posting photos of my own smokin’ bod.

If he’s so irrelevant, why am I spending so much time on him? Obviously anyone who appeals to feminists by calling us “ladies,” describes Donald Trump as “smart, cunning,” and describes sex workers as though they’re subhuman is not worth my time. I do hesitate to give him overmuch attention; he’s not known for his intelligence and expending too much effort on his opinions threatens to legitimize them. It would be a mistake to treat a tabloid as if it were The New York Times.

But his deluded belief that he works the door at Club Feminism is sadly prevalent among men—just check the retweets. I recently unfollowed a different dude on Twitter for a flippant tweet along the lines of, “Sorry your girlfriend thinks Taylor Swift is a feminist.” To which I say, sorry you think you get to dictate who women identify with. Sorry you think you’re so beyond woke you can make belittling jokes.

Morgan asked, “Since when did feminist empowerment mean naked, bird-flipping selfies or a**e-baring red carpet stunts?”

Well, thanks for asking, Piers. It’s since we fucking said so.

Naked women are nothing new, but we always seem to be talking about them. From Lady Godiva to Miley Cyrus, the female body has been the subject of art, advertising, and worship for, um, ever.

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(Come on, ladies.)

So what is it about posting photos of yourself that is anti-feminist? What about it negates your ability to be taken seriously as a woman? Why is it that Terry Richardson can photograph undressed and barely legal celebrities in the name of art, but when Madonna wears a thong on the red carpet she’s “hijack[ing]/distort[ing] the cause of feminism.” Madonna, a survivor of domestic abuse, is not being empowered in the way that Piers Morgan, an asshole, wants her to be empowered.

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(This chick gets it.)

I publicly post nudes. I’m a feminist. I’m feminist AF, if we’re getting technical. Frankly, I didn’t think freeing my nipples was radical anymore, but evidently, it is.

But what if I want to run for office? What if I have children one day and they see my pictures? What if a guy I’m dating doesn’t like my body being out there like that?

What if you shut up? My kids and partners are gonna have to be a-okay with my nipples, they’re part of this sweet package. And I enjoy writing about my own vagina far more than I would ever enjoy holding political office.

But let’s stop there for a second: Why do I have to make that disclaimer? Why should showing my nipples majorly impact someone’s respect for me? Why can’t you hold the image of a capable woman and her nipples in your mind at the same time? Whose problem is that? It cannot possibly be mine. I know I’m smart, and even smart women have tits. Even smart women can like their tits. Sorry not sorry to shatter that illusion for you.

What gastropod Piers Morgan remains unconvinced of is that women show off their bodies for reasons other than money and men. He asks, “How does it promote female equality to so lamely, publicly titillate men and make them view women purely as objects of sexual desire? Or to encourage women to think that is the only way they can achieve success?

(Note that he suggests the fact that men cannot see women as anything but objects is our fault; that we “make them” view us objects. Okay.)

Taking nude selfies and posting them publicly has been one of the most personally rewarding expressions of feminism I’ve found as an adult woman in the Internet age. I’m not making any claims about effecting change or furthering the cause of feminism with my boobs; I’m saying that I like to do it, and it makes me feel strong. I do not make any money from these pictures, nor do I ever really engage with anyone who sees them. They go up on a tumblr, and I never respond to any of the messages I receive there, just because I’m not interested.  

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If not for men and if not for money, why do I do it? The reasons I post nude selfies stem from my lived experiences as a woman, so it’s not surprising that Piers Morgan’s mollusk brain cannot understand them. It is surprising that he won’t shut up about what he doesn’t understand.

(Although men have a bad habit of doing that, don’t they? Here’s lookin’ atchu, every politician that has ever tried to legislate my uterus.)

Catcalling started for me around age twelve, in my small, safe New England suburb. From a young age, I was taught that my body and appearance were up for evaluation at all times. My very presence is an apparent invitation for critique. I get catcalled regardless of what I’m wearing, but when I leave the house in something short, tight, or revealing, I have to brace myself for the extra comments I inevitably receive. It’s easy to think, “Well, what did I expect? Look what I’m wearing,” but I have to fight those resilient shreds of internalized misogyny and demand better from men. A lot of men still do not seem to understand that women dress (or undress) for themselves, and that sometimes the biggest deterrent to doing so is the very attention you seem to think we are thirsting for.

It’s also important to note that I feel safe taking photos. I’m taking them in my own home and distributing them on my own channels. I don’t have to put my physical body at risk to show it off. I’ve been grabbed by strangers in bars and on the street; I’m not willing to put myself in greater danger than I already am, what with all the existing as a woman in public I’ve been doing.

When I take nudes, I’m in control of how you’re attracted to me. I choose what you see, how much you see, and when. I take the male gaze and I taffy-pull it into something I’m comfortable with. And, frankly, I really don’t do it for you—I do it for me. It makes me feel sexy, it makes me feel beautiful, it makes me feel in control. I found a way to take back what so many men have tried to take and manipulate for so long: female sexuality. Instead of hiding my body and my sexuality after years of men commenting on it and telling me what to do with it, now I decide how I want to show it off. It is not a mistake that many of the nudes I take have my “GRL PWR” tattoo visible.

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Perhaps this is the cause of the knots in Piers Morgan’s knickers? With the nude selfie, the woman is now the subject and the capturer. We’re not seeing women how men want them to be sexy, we’re seeing women how they want to be sexy. Women are just doing what men have been doing to us for centuries, but now that we’re the photographer as well as the subject, it’s discredited, it’s impolite, it’s “nonsense.”

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(This pungent slug doesn’t want you to take your clothes off for money. This was pro bono.)

I’ve subverted your ability to use my image as a weapon against me. God forbid someone I trusts ever threatens to “leak my nudes,” but it’ll be too late. Remember when Emma Watson made that extremely gentle speech encouraging men to be feminists and the Internet responded with a countdown to release her (non-existent) nude photos? I’ve taken away your weapon, your big threat: that one day you will reveal that I am a human woman beneath these clothes.

My body isn’t perfect, and I don’t think it is. But I like it, and for so long I didn’t. That was partly because I wasn’t treating myself the way I should’ve been, and partly because I didn’t look the way other girls looked. I’ve got wide hips and a small bum, little boobs and thick thighs. For a while I just tried to starve myself down to skinny, because it seemed like the only body type that mattered. When I got there, it turns out I have the same wide pelvis; you can’t starve your bones. Since then, I’ve been working hard for a strong body that I’m comfortable in, and redefining my own expectations.

I’m proud of my body, and I’m proud of myself for being proud of it. I’m not afraid of it, and I’m not ashamed of it. The more I show my normal body and other women show their normal bodies, the more normal bodies there will be to see. I can’t imagine the difference it would’ve made to see a tiger-striped, big-hipped, pear-boobed woman naked and psyched about it when I was a teenager. The proliferation of “normal bodies” is happening: the Aerie Real campaign promotes the visibility of authentic, unretouched bodies. We’re seeing that that means countless different things.

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Piers Morgan implores us to “think of the children.” He worries about “Kim’s gazillion young female followers on Twitter and Instagram rushing straight to their cellphones to bombard cyberspace with nude pictures of themselves,” as though the Internet, television, billboards and magazines are not already flooded with naked women. What Morgan doesn’t seem to understand is that girls will also be seeing a woman who is comfortable with her body and unbothered by your criticism of her. They’ll see that there is a way to be sexy and proud of it. They will also see another old, white man calling successful women “cheap hookers.” But I don’t think that’s who they’re going to remember.

Posting nudes is a feminist action in so many ways. It deals with body image issues, taking control of your sexuality, finding new ways to be powerful, and subverting the male gaze. Posting nudes doesn’t make me anti-feminist, it doesn’t make me silly or vain or foolish, nor does it negate my intelligence or my opinions. How small-minded must you be to think that showing my nipples means I am not someone to be taken seriously?

Feminism, like everything, changes and adapts as society progresses. Human-slug Piers Morgan compared Emily Ratajkowski and Kim Kardashian to Emmeline Pankhurst, a famous Suffragette. Pankhurst was a militant feminist who often advocated for the violent destruction of property in order to have women’s voices heard. I doubt she would’ve been called ladylike in her time. She fought against the relevant oppression of her era: that women didn’t have the right to vote. Morgan pretends to mourn the death of feminism but what he’s really boo-hoo-hoo’ing is its evolution. Mary Allen, a contemporary of Pankhurst, recalls a conversation with her father wherein he told her, “Either you give up this Suffragette nonsense absolutely and for good – or you leave this house!” Piers Morgan, the personification of sour milk, purports to be promoting “real empowerment” when really he’s just echoing the sentiments of historical anti-feminists.

9(Sorry, Daddy.)

The problems that feminists are confronting now are different than they were in 1879, and control over our own bodies is a central issue. Women being open and unashamed of their own sexuality is vital. It works against the shame that is still poured upon women for wanting sex and being sexual. It works against Morgan talking about sex workers as though their opinions are not valid, as if they don’t deserve the same respect as any human beings. He, of course, makes no mention of their patrons because men are not punished for wanting sex as women are.

In his latest column, Morgan tells us that the “real feminists” are women like Julia Roberts for walking the red carpet barefoot, and Robin Wright for demanding equal pay on House of Cards. Yet again, he’s trying to decide the issues that are on the agenda at Club Feminism, which ones he thinks are valid, as if feminists are waiting around for the men to approve our modus operandi. As if feminists of any era obeyed the directives of men.

I’m going to take a shot in the dark and say that if Pankhurst or Allen were alive today, they would be on my side. A pertinent quote from Pankhurst that Morgan might want to consider, “Men make the moral code and they expect women to accept it. They have decided that it is entirely right and proper for men to fight for their liberties and their rights, but that it is not right and proper for women to fight for theirs.

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(Mary Allen and Margaret Damer Dawson, feminists)

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(Me, also a feminist.)

Taking nudes isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay. Neither is shaving your armpits, or getting married, or having children. If Julia Roberts wants to go barefoot for women while Kim Kardashian goes topless, that’s great, they’re both valid. What’s right for one woman does not have to be right for another woman, and we need to not judge each other for those choices when they differ from our own. Before Piers Morgan continues to spread his ill-informed garbage, I would hope that he considers this: Feminism is never about judging what women do with their own bodies. I would also hope he considers shutting up.

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