Two weeks ago Emily Ratajkowski and Kim Kardashian reminded the world of their totally bodacious bodies — lest anyone forget, by posting a topless selfie, middle-fingers to the world, up. It was a follow-up photo to a similar selfie Kim had posted a few weeks prior, which, after receiving negative backlash she posted the following on Twitter:
From being told to act like a mother, to stop pretending that these nude mirror moments are empowered acts of feminism, to message boards screaming, “What message are you sending to young women??” Kim has received as much negative attention for selfies like these as she has money for her app.
In the midst of the uproar Emily took to her Twitter, to say:
“I am not shamed or apologetic of what my body might represent to you.”
"Aren't we passd this bs way of thinking? The whole goal here is to let wmn do what they want for their reasons. To have the power to choose."
To which she received equal measure backlash and support, speaking to the divide the feminist movement has long felt over the boob issue. The battleground of breasts as political movement continues to be one thick with controversy. Should we be prude or libertine? What's better for the cause?
While the argument can-- and has been-- made that these photos are intended for the male gaze and only contribute to a women’s position as object, for a movement that currently feels lost in the nebulous between “bad” and “good” feminism, women imprinting their views on other women is equally as dismissive and damaging.
So here are twelve questions I have. Feel free to chat with me in the comments below.
1. If we, as women, are fighting for agency of our bodies, why are we so up in arms when someone (most often a celeb) uses their million-follower platform to show agency over their own body? Filtered or not.
2. How can we as a society be closer than ever to accepting sex work, as real work, and yet, still treat this issue so preciously?
3. When can we stop discussing sex as a moral issue?
4. When can we stop telling other women what it means to “be a mother?”
5. Why do we only feel like it’s progress when we see other women who are “like us,” posting nudes. That is, not "perfect,"-- a la Kim and Emily's tiny waists and huge boobs? When Refinery29 posted un-retouched photos of 25 women with real breasts the comments were encouraging. Readers said it was a beautiful series and asked for “more like this.” Facebook mom groups are always posting links to what “real” bodies look like after breastfeeding. These posts are celebrated. Confusing.
6. Is it less feminist when it’s a woman with a beautiful body? Is it the "perfection" that causes it to be less feminist?
7. Does baring nipples, with movements like #freethenipple, actually desexualize them? Maybe I don't think nipples are a big deal, but are we kidding ourselves pretending that they are not sexual?
8. In an industry where some of the most celebrated female characters have been written by old, white men, should we not celebrate when this isn't the case? Thinking about Lena Dunham's character on Girls, and her flashing vagina Basic Instinct style last week. Are women owed some kind of power play-- a middle-finger to the years spent under the male gaze?
9. If women want attention or validation, why are we so offended by this? Do we have to completely reject patriarchal beauty standards in order to be good feminists?
10. Why can’t we operate from within the structure that exists to take back our bodies? Can we be sexual creatures without operating under the regime of the male gaze?
11. Why is the feminist platform so divided over what it means to be liberated?
12. Can you use your body as a marketing tool and still have control over it?
The only answer I’ve come up with so far is this:
Flaunt your body if you love it. Don’t flaunt it if you love it. But just love it, OK? That’s the most liberated thing you can do.
"Flaunt your body if you love it. Don’t flaunt it if you love it. But just love it, OK? That’s the most liberated thing you can do."
Arianna Schioldager is Create & Cultivate's editorial director. You can find her on IG @ariannawrotethis and more about her on this site she never updates www.ariannawrotethis.com