In light of recent events on the web, I wanted to talk about slut shaming.
What is it?
Slut shaming is harassment. It’s judgment. It’s condemning a woman for her perceived promiscuity, for having multiple partners (whether or not she actually does), for dressing in revealing clothing, for flirting, for choosing to have an abortion, for taking/sending nude pictures, for for for…
I’m going to talk about my experiences next week, but first let’s look at what’s in the news.
A (Kar)Dash(ian) of Antagonism
Last week Kim Kardashian shared a nude selfie (once again) on Instagram, eliciting both positive and negative comments. The image, captioned with “When you’re like I have nothing to wear LOL,” caused the Internet (once again) to break and erupt in both disapproval and praise. Singer Bette Midler and actor Chloë Grace Moretz were the first on the offense, with Chloë sending a well-meaning yet critical Tweet: “I truly hope you realize how important setting goals are for young women, teaching them we have so much more to offer than — our bodies” (it looks like this Tweet was deleted). Kim immediately made a rather immature jab at Chloë in response, making it all into a popularity game.
I don’t like Kim K as much as the next person likes her—she’s annoying af and so self-absorbed, not to mention that I’d rather eat my toenails than listen to her voice, and idgaf about her life—but the response to her pictures is necessary to examine.
She literally has tons of clothes to wear. And the world has already seen her shiny, naked cheeks. (Remember her ridiculous photoshoot with Paper magazine? I can’t ever pop a bottle of champagne without thinking of her trying to balance the glass on her bountiful behind.) I’m not sure what the intention of this picture is, considering it barely passes Instagram’s nudity policies, but the bigger picture—and not just her ass(ets)—is more important.
Chloë is an admirable young woman in her own right, playing badass female characters (Hit Girl in the Kick-Ass films, for example) and fighting for feminism from a young age. As she inspires girls to do what boys do, it’s understandable where she’s coming from. No, women aren’t just their bodies, and we’re not sex objects.
But to say that Kim is only her body because she displays it so often discounts her other merits. However unintentional, Chloë condemned more than Kim’s body; she condemned what she does with her body, implicitly rehashing Kim’s past exploits with a sex tape. The tape helped launch her name and career, and netted millions! The tape was made in 2003 (she was my age!) when Kim was dating Ray J, who was going to leak it after their breakup. Instead, Kim turned this threat of exploitation into an opportunity.
In this context, Chloë’s statement is tinged with slut shaming, as she’s bashing her for showing her body in the public eye—whether that’s on Instagram or in pornography. To defend her statement, Chloë tweets: “There’s a huge difference in respecting the platform that you’re given as a celebrity and “slut shaming” something I never have done and — would never do.” Other celebrities similarly criticize Kim. Most notably, the singer Pink, whose response can be read here, called out Kim and women for “using your body, your sex, your tits and asses” for attention and money. Now if that’s not slut shaming then I don’t know what is.
I don’t believe that Chloë would ever intentionally slut shame another, but positioning herself against a woman’s choice to publicly display her nude body makes it seem like doing so is wrong. If you don’t think she’s a good role model, then be a better one. Don’t drag her down for doing something that you don’t see as being positive and inspiring. There’s nothing wrong with showing off your body if you want to—whether or not you’re a man or a woman. Some women (like Kim) find empowerment in nudity, whereas others find empowerment in the opposite. Just because someone prefers wearing clothes doesn’t make them better than the person who doesn’t like wearing them on camera, or vice versa.
It’s like shaming someone for wearing shoes or exposing their toes. Some are offended by feet, others not so much. I was talking to a guy friend who doesn’t like his feet. In 90 degree weather he said he wears socks and shoes. Me—I hate wearing shoes. Shoes and socks are like shackles. I’d much prefer flip flops 24/7 (I’m from Florida) to boots. Feet are part of our bodies. Cover them up or leave them bare, whatever you like! But it’s not your place to say whether this is right or wrong.
Model and actress Amber Rose pointed out Pink’s hypocrisy and urged her to “let another grown woman live as she wishes.” She also noted a double standard in the way women are slut shamed while men are praised: “If any sexy guy posted a nude picture with a little black strip over his private areas, everybody would be like, ‘Damn, he’s hot, he’s sexy… Look at that body!’” (to be discussed next post). Numerous women have come out in support of Kim, sparking a nude selfie movement in solidarity. Sharon Osbourne and Emily Ratajkowski are among the #liberated celebrities, and a group of moms also stripped to reveal what their post-pregnancy bodies look like.
Kim has responded to the controversy herself:
“I never understand why people get so bothered by what other people choose to do with their lives.
It always seems to come back around to my sex tape. Yes, a sex tape that was made 13 years ago. 13 YEARS AGO. Literally that lonnng ago. And people still want to talk about it?!?!
Let’s move on, already. I have.
I am empowered by my body. I am empowered by my sexuality. I am empowered by feeling comfortable in my skin. I am empowered by showing the world my flaws and not being afraid of what anyone is going to say about me. And I hope that through this platform I have been given, I can encourage the same empowerment for girls and women all over the world.
It’s 2016. The body-shaming and slut-shaming — it’s like, enough is enough. I will not live my life dictated by the issues you have with my sexuality. You be you and let me be me.
I am a mother. I am a wife, a sister, a daughter, an entrepreneur and I am allowed to be sexy.
You go, Mrs. West, making money and establishing yourself as a businesswoman in the face of public humiliation and all. The photo wasn’t a sext, and there isn’t anything pornographic in the image. It’s just her naked body with censored bars.
But it’s not about you, Kim. With another tweet saying “Sorry I’m late to the party guys I was busy cashing my 80 million video game check & transferring 53 million into our joint account,” you retain my dislike. However, there’s something we can learn from her confidence and resilience: She doesn’t allow judgment to affect her. She can’t be exploited because we’ve seen it all (because she wants to show it off), and she doesn’t care what anyone thinks. She shuts down slut shaming because she’s not ashamed of herself, her body, her sexuality. Let’s support these women for their choices instead of tearing them down. That’s what feminism is all about.
Here I continue a tirade against slut shaming, but let me know what you think in the comments! Are you for or against Kim’s shameless selfies?
Stay #liberated, my friends.
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