One of the most important, and rewarding, parts of identifying as a feminist is uplifting all women, no matter their choices in life. Meaning supporting women who are college graduates, and strippers, prostitutes, and lawyers. Now this a difficult exercise in checking my own privilege, understanding that as women (particularly women of color), we have a collective struggle that transcends educational or professional circumstances. I've struggled with this as I grow into my own womanhood.
I've found it to be quite trying, to accept and support different versions of feminism that do not reflect my own; to stop myself from judging women who pursue sex work, or women who are transgendered. I try to recognize my privilege as a college-educated, employed, straight woman when I see other women twerking on the gram or watch any version of Love and Hip Hop. No, Cardi B. and I do not have the same definitions of success, but we are both women of color and we do share similar realities that link us intrinsically. This is the true meaning of intersectional feminism, understanding that oppressive institutions like racism, classism, sexism, homophobia, or transphobia, are interconnected and cannot be examined separately from one another. All of these institutions matter when we discuss gender equality, reproductive health, and the political participation of women.
Now again, it’s a challenging version of feminism to associate with. To consistently work on understanding the diversity of the women around you. To ensure that you are supporting their socio-political agency, and giving them the space to share their narratives without judgement. It’s hard, and what makes it harder is when I come across nonsense from people like Kim Khardashian. Apparently she penned her first “feminist” “article” this year for International Women’s Day. This “article” was a response to the negative comments she received after posting a nude selfie on Instagram (Bette Midler said that Khardashian would need to swallow a camera for us to see a new part of her body. Bette Midler is an American treasure) Kim posted her “article” on her app, which you need to pay $2.99 per month to access, saying: “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."
Is this feminism? Does throwing the word empowerment around to support any lucrative and sexually exploitive action we partake in constructive? Are we teaching our daughters that posting nude photos of ourselves is a form of revolutionary self-love? I’m sorry but this is what can be defined as content less feminism and it challenges nothing. What Kim Khardashian is doing lacks real agency, it is based on nothing but likes and money. Posting nudes does nothing for the movement to liberate women, particularly coming from a woman who is the personification of the over-sexed, capitalistic machine that is social media. She makes millions of dollars from showing her body, and now wants to use the umbrella of feminism to try to distract us from what is really going on. NOTHING. Nothing is going on but nudes being posted. This thought-less excuse for feminism perpetuates the notion that success come from what we look like and how sexy men think we are. Nothing, nothing to see here but traditional 1940's version of female sexuality on display for consumption.
Being proud of your sexuality as a woman is essential, but if you’re going to pen an article about how being naked on Instagram is empowering, save it for the dummies who pay $2.99 to watch you pluck your eyebrows every month. I do support the sexual liberation of women, to be proud of our bodies, to be proud of the pleasure we get from being sexy and having sex. Showing our daughters that life is not just about being the sexy woman online, that there are real issues that women face and must tackle together: easy access to contraception, sex education in which boys and men were taught that female pleasure and orgasm matter as much as their own, victim blaming for survivors of rape and sexual assault. What about those things? Do posting nudes and whining about mean twitter comments address those things? No Mrs. West, your nudes have no political agency.
I strongly believe in intersectional feminism, and will support any woman who wants to see change, but we also need to recognize when the terms empowerment and feminism are being used to distract us.