She’s one of the most famous people in the world; she’s broken the internet, risen to worldwide fame through her own reality TV show, made millions of dollars off of her successes as an entrepreneur and business woman, and is now juggling all of this while raising a family. Kim Kardashian West is a business mogul in her own right, but what controversy has brought her to the media’s attention this time around?
After Kardashian West posted her ‘racy’ nude on Instagram on March 7th to celebrate International Women’s Day, the world reacted in a variety of ways. Many deemed her to be a ‘slut’, with Bette Midler most notably tweeting “If Kim wants us to see a part of her we’ve never seen, she’s gonna have to swallow the camera.” Most ironic of all was Chloe Grace Moretz tweeting “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” a bit too soon after her mostly nude Nylon magazine cover. However, many others backed Kim up, with Modern Family star Ariel Winters tweeting that “men and women should have the right to choose what they do with their bodies.” The world seemed divided over the issue – something I find saddening at a time where third wave intersectional feminism is making a rise.
However, most shocking was the public reaction to Australian street artist Mark Wells’ creation. Wells, otherwise known as ‘Lushsux’, recreated the image onto a three storey building in Melbourne, only for it to be coated in white and brown paint and have the word ‘slut’ written over the bottom less than 48 hours later. In a world divided by feminism and sexism, an inevitable response to this image was resistance, for which he said so himself, “I was a little bit bummed out, but it was a given.”
The incident leads us to understand how society perceives feminism and how it digests it, and how we as a society are very much divided on the issue. Free speech extends beyond our opinions, encompassing our actions and what we choose to put out there. This photo was Kim saying “I have every right as a human being to do whatever I want with my body as long as it isn’t hurting anyone else. It’s my body, it’s my choice”, and I personally gave it a “like”. However, a lot of people don’t share this view. One general anti-feminist consensus is that she should cover up and be ‘respectful’ – but I pose the following question: how does nudity correlate with self-respect? As a human being, you have the choice in how you show your body, as long as it’s legal and harmless, which this image was. If you respect and love your body it allows you to have the sexuality to show it in any way you please. That means if you want to follow Kardashian West’s trend of posing ‘provocatively’, then you should go ahead. If you want to cover up every inch of your body, then you should go ahead and do that. A person should have every right to act upon their own will as long as they’re not hurting anyone else. The same applies to the rich and famous, and perhaps more importantly as they have the power to send this message to millions of people.
The sexist reaction to both Kim’s Instagram photo and Lushux’s mural is seen as a complete double standard in the celebrity world. Recently the internet has seen a backlash for the ‘double standard’ set out in society in regards to female and male nudity. For example, here are tweets from Capital FM’s official twitter account.
The Twitter account, which has a following of over 880,000 people, outright mocks both Kim Kardashian and Miley Cyrus for actively consenting to pose naked. But when Justin Bieber and Zayn Malik do it, suddenly it’s okay. It just goes to prove that there’s a complete double standard in society when it comes to nudity – it’s okay for one sex, and not for another. Another interesting factor in this argument is the concept of consent.
When the iCloud photo leak scandal took place in August 2014, Jennifer Lawrence was arguably the most targeted actress of them all. Her nude photos, that were shared only with her then long distance boyfriend Nicholas Hoult, were released to the world, with the reaction being beyond shameful. I was online at the time this happened, and I don’t know of anyone who didn’t take a look. All of my male friends had downloaded the snaps and were making comments about how ‘hot’ and ‘naughty’ the photos were. Overall, the world was fine with these images – of course there was shock, and people quickly labelled the female celebrities as ‘sluts’, but everyone was quick to take a look and download the archive. However, when Kim Kardashian West posed naked of her own accord, she’s met with disgust – the world is quick to brand her a ‘whore’ or a ‘slut’ with no byproduct of pleasure. So what’s the difference in these two cases? Consent. When images are released online against a female’s will, it’s scandalous yet arousing; but when it’s an image shared with complete consent, it’s appalling and leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths. The problem isn’t the naked body, the problem is the perceived ownership over it.
The general public don’t have an issue with the female body. They have an issue with females being comfortable enough to share it. And that attitude is sexist.
What about her husband? What does Kanye have to say about this? What will her children, North and Saint, think about this when they grow up? Some may say She’s a wife and a mother, therefore she shouldn’t be doing this. The reality of the situation is that she’s her own human being before she’s somebody’s wife or somebody’s mother and those two things don’t discontinue that fact either. In Kardashian West’s own words, “I am a mother. I am a wife, a sister, a daughter, an entrepreneur and I am allowed to be sexy.” She also poses the rhetorical question on her blog, “”I don’t do drugs, I hardly drink, I’ve never committed a crime—and yet I’m a bad role model for being proud of my body?” I believe she responded flawlessly; “”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. 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.”
At the end of the day, however a woman expresses her sexuality is none of anyone’s business – from the ‘skimpiest’ to the ‘frumpiest’ choice of clothes, a woman has her right to choose. Women are not property. We have the right to consent. We have the right to express freedom.