March 11, 2016


Kim Kardashian West & Encouraging Female Expression Instead of Repression

Gregg DeGuire/WireImage
Gregg DeGuire/WireImage

On International Women’s Day, while some showed their appreciation to and for women they admire and respect, some engaged in a recycled, ignorant act of body shaming and slut shaming—of Kim Kardashian West, specifically.

A quick recap: On Monday (March 7) Kim posted an older nude photo of herself, with two black censored strips keeping the post an R and not an NC-17, both on Instagram and Twitter. She was rocking the blonde hair she debuted during Paris’ fashion week last year.  “When you’re like I have nothing to wear LOL,’ she captioned the photo. 

Quickly, celebrities chimed in with their judgments. “If Kim wants us to see a part of her we’ve never seen she’s gonna have to swallow the camera,” Bette Midler tweeted. “I truly hope you realize how important setting goals are for young women, teaching them we have so much more to offer than just our bodies,” Chloe Grace Moretz tweeted

Wait, but how is shaming someone something you’d want to teach other women? Whether you’re cool with Kim posting an old, somewhat-nude selfie of herself or not, is judging someone negatively for self-expression what we want to be “teaching” women? 

Kim Kardashian West responded to criticism with such sass that many, including myself, believed it was Kanye West or Khloe Kardashian who was behind her phone, flexing those Twitter fingers. “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,” and “hey @BetteMidler I know it's past your bedtime but if you're still up and reading this send nudes #justkidding.” Damn!

If all of this wasn’t tiring enough, the engagement online by prudes and apparent saints who have never engaged in sexual acts ever skyrocketed. Those who love to bring up Kardashian’s sex tape with Ray J of 13 years ago came out to play, because that’s all they’ve got in their Cheetos-dust-stained pockets. Some men listed the men Kim’s dated in her past, and spewed insults… because no one EVER dates anyone before they, you know, marry someone and start a family with them.

It’s absurd that women are being judged by not the men they date, but how many men they date. I have to deal with the feeling of foolishness when looking back at an asshole or two I’ve dated in my past, but at the end of the day, that was my choice; that’s on me, no one else, as is how I choose to show someone I like or love them. (But I think some already know how I feel about owning one’s sexuality.)  I respect a woman who follows not just her heart, but simply what she wants and how she wants it, rather than a woman who shames someone for doing so. Why is it in the hands of other men to judge a woman for what she chooses to do with her body, and with whom she decides to share her time with? 

But wait, we’re not done with the shaming saga (on International Women’s Day, no less!). Pink took to social media on March 8 as well, to share a message: “Shout out to all of the women, across the world, using their brains, their strength, their work ethic, their talent, their ‘magic’ that they were born with, that only they possess,” she wrote. “It may not ever bring you as much ‘attention’ or bank notes as using your body, your sex, your tits and asses, but women like you don’t need that kind of ‘attention.’” She continues to touch on “attention,” and ends with “#bestrong” and “#upyourrealworth.”

Ironically, Amber Rose, a woman who’s been shamed publicly for her sexuality, came to the defense of Kardashian West, who many assumed was who Pink was referring to her in her poorly timed, petty message. Amber posted P!nk’s message, and captioned it with a message herself: 

“Damn Pink we were all born naked society sexualizes our breast and bodies. If a grown mother of 2 is comfortable with her body and wants to show it off that's none of ur business or anyone else's. Now, if u wanna talk to kids and be a mentor to young teens, tell them to go to school and to not use their bodies to get ahead?! I'm all for it! But please as a grown woman let another grown woman live as she wishes. That's our problem! We're so quick to down each other instead of uplifting! Pink, We've seen u damn near naked swinging from a rope( Beautifully) but what's the difference between a rope, a pole and a pic on Instagram? Classism. Because u sing while ur half naked does that make it ‘Classy’ or is it because u have a ‘talent’? I'm not dissing at all Pink just curious after u said ‘You'll never have to make a silly excuse for yourself.’”

Let me play this part back: “As a grown woman, let another grown woman live as she wishes. That's our problem! We're so quick to down each other instead of uplifting!”  Again, how are we, women, telling other women, especially young women, to stand up for themselves, and to be themselves, by judging and shaming a woman who’s doing that?

Kim took to her official website, according to Just Jared, to lay it all out on the table, by saying things like, “I never understand why people get so bothered by what the people choose to do with their lives,” and “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.”

I think the worst part of this entire string of events is that it only shows us how strong the stigma is against women not only expressing their sexuality, but simply discussing it and standing behind it. Women are either objectified or shamed, instead of celebrated or empowered—so much so that as women, we’re busy defending ourselves, or fighting with each other, instead of expressing ourselves. How are we even supposed to have a conversation about sexuality, if all of the above happens when one woman posts a photo of her own body, willingly and happily? 

While there has been progress over time, moments like these make it feel like we still live in a society were it’s easier to demean women instead of embrace them.