Sunday, 13 March 2016

'I'm Not Like The Other Girls'

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A snap of me devilishly revealing my slutty, unintelligent knee! 

Recently there has been an uproar about one of the most famous women in the world, Kim Kardashian, posting a naked selfie. Reactions have ranged from positive, praising Kim for celebrating her body, to negative, describing her as a poor role model for young women.

I don't personally feel as if someone posting a picture of their own body really warrants my opinion, or anybody else's, but the level and type of vitriol directed at Kim for doing so is really concerning, and I believe it feeds into deeply-held beliefs about women's worth, and our relationship with our bodies.

I suppose one of the most concerning aspects of this whole story is the reaction of other women. With Chloe Moretz reaching out and saying that Kim should be 'teaching women that we have more to offer than just our bodies' and Pink suggesting in a Twitter post that we should be using our intelligence rather than our bodies to 'get attention.' What really worries me about these arguments is how they are packaged to appear to be empowering women, 'you have so much more to offer' they say, 'so why would you rely on your body?' I don't really blame Chloe for expressing these opinions because I imagine I would have said similar things at her age, but Pink's entirely simplified, binary view suggests she should know better by now.

I don't think it is entirely surprising that this idea is popular, however the problem is that it feeds just as much into sexist ideas as anything else. Simply put, the minute you try to put down another woman for her own form of self expression or her choices (except if those choices or that expression actively harms another person or group), you've already lost me, and many other women who understand that being sexually open and confident about your body is not the same as aligning yourself with patriarchal standards.

As a teenager I believed that I wasn't like those 'other girls.' I was different, looking up to stars like Pink and Avril Lavigne and relating to that pop star image of the outsider girl. This was my version of feminism, one that shamed other women for their choices and how they expressed themselves. What I didn't realise at the time is that the alt girl pop propaganda was lying to me, telling me that if I acted a bit more like one of the boys and not like one of those 'stupid girls' (to directly quote Pink) I would be respected, and by who exactly? A set of very judgemental women and the group whose opinion undoubtedly still mattered the most, men. I believe that this argument plays on girl's insecurities about ourselves, teaching us to direct that frustration at other women rather than societal pressures.

As women, we are taught that our sexuality and our bodies are to be concealed. We are patronised and lied to, told that within our bodies lies so much power (true), and that we should 'respect ourselves' by not giving too much away (false). This is why the idea of virginity exists, a notion that encourages young men to get rid of it as quickly as possible and for women to hold on to it as a source of their worth. This is why we are taught to wait to have sex for fear a man won't respect us if we give ourselves away too easily. This is why the act of showing a little more skin than others deem acceptable results in being called a slut. We are painted as seducers who use our sexuality to trick men, to 'cocktease', to manipulate, heaven forbid that we might actually enjoy our own sexuality.

Moretz, Pink and professional slimeball Piers Morgan's views on Kim's nakedness correspond to the notion that women's bodies are the source of their worth. They may not think so, but they do. Shaming a woman for showing her body makes the assumption that she is doing it for men. Their appeal that we should look for the qualities other than our bodies, whilst also telling Kim to cover up, implies that we lose a part of ourselves when we reveal a little more. It feeds into a demonisation of women, of our 'tits' and 'asses' as bad, sexually charged, attention seeking instead of, you know, our own damn tits and asses. If a woman takes control of her body and chooses to express it, she is irresponsible, attention seeking, yet if a woman's body is depicted by another it is art. Why else is it that some nude shots of women are represented as 'tasteful' or 'beautiful' or 'honest', many of which are taken by men, whilst Kim's own choice to show her body to the world is somehow an attack of womenkind?

We do not have to be this gross, impossible, contradictory amalgamation of qualities that society demands of us, namely that we should use our brains but conceal our sexuality and our bodies, oh but also look conventionally pretty. This is a reductive view that seeks to keep women in a certain role just as much as anything else. It is a method of keeping women as the other, entrenching the 'I'm not like the other girls' culture that introduces misogynistic views in a warped feminist format. It is important that we don't buy into the othering of women that appears in the words of Moretz and Pink, that says you can be better than those dumb girls, that encourages us to hate women who we should support and respect. You don't have to agree with or necessarily like Kim Kardashian as a person to know that criticising her for founding a career on her sexuality and being open about her body is a way of slut shaming her.

There is nothing wrong with 'the other girls.' The 'other girls' have different life experiences and opinions and relationships with themselves and this is to be celebrated. Other women are not your enemy, they are not the people holding us back from equality, it is those who uphold and champion patriarchal standards that should be criticised.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments! 

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8 comments :

  1. You are so right ! Few years ago, I would have blamed girls doing that, because I fought for feminism as it has something to be respected and you have to get on the norms of it too. But fuck norms! Even they are in favor or not, and as you said it is not my part to judge , and have to accept or not what she did, because it is her body and it is only hers to decide if she wants to show it to the world or not!
    I recently joined the Suicide Girls community and there was a time I would have said that's lame thats reflecting a very wrong image of women. But there should not be " a GOOD" image of women , society should accept that we are different and that's all. Otherwise , dumb guys posting their anatomies on private (spammed) Facebook message would drag down all the MEN... but actually it doesn't. As for the gay people, the image that the TV spread of us , is often not the right one when they show gay men as crazy ladies and lesbian as big butches, but do we have to find that they are dragging us down ? No, because we are all different and one case of figure is not to be relying on for whole community ! Hopefully!

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    1. Thank you for your comment Lorna! Yes I completely agree that societal perceptions and real life are two very different things and should be treated as such. Ultimately it's about choice and working against being shamed for those choices! xxx

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  2. A great post! Completely agree with everything your saying. Kim K is owning her own self by sharing naked pics. If they'd been leaked instead lots of people would have sympathised and proclaimed that it wasn't fair and that the men who got hold of the photos were wrong and sick etc. But the moment she chooses to control her photographs and release them herself she's deemed a slut and attention seeking. Double standards by a society governed by men and women that think like men!

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    1. Absolutely true! You've summed it up better than me actually. It really is the double standard, which ironically is something men tend to argue about women too, that we've got it easier for certain reasons! Thanks so much for your comment xxx

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