They are not about female inclusion. They are about female exclusion.

A friend brought my attention to an article at Mamamia about Kim Kardashian and “empowerment.”

Kim Kardashian and Emily Ratajkowski posted a joint topless nude selfie on Instagram this morning and we’re all meant to sit back, have a look at the black stripe over their boobs, their middle fingers in the air and that omnipresent bathroom mirror and say, “Oh, Thank God for female empowerment. How empowering. Just look at those two women empower. I need to get me some of these empowerment black strip things. Thank you Kimmy, you have made me see the empowerment light.”

Last time Kim K did this she tweeted that, “It’s so important that we let women express their sexuality and share their bodies.”

If it has to do with a woman and we put the words empowering, liberation and control in there, it’s all totally okay. Don’t go putting shade on that empowering female parade by “judging” Kimmy for getting her gear off.

If you dare judge a woman who is exercising her God given nude empowerment you simply don’t get it. Just look at what Kim K said to Bette Midler when she questioned the last nude selfie:

It was rude, ageist and probably worst of all humorless, but totally okay because Kim has better boobs than Bette. And Kim’s boobs are empowered. And Kim is nude so she definitely knows what she is talking about.

That’s the thing, isn’t it, or at least one of them. Kim Kardashian posting selfies of herself looking gorgeous is not so much “empowering” as it is competitive. “Empowering” would be average women, in all our dumpiness or scrawniness or bulgyness or flatness, posting selfies. Gorgeous women saying look how gorgeous I am is just more of the same old thing – women treating themselves as commodities for inspection because that’s the way the larger world treats them, and triumphing over other women in the process. I suppose you can call that “empowering” if you want to, but it seems pretty silly.

In this Instagram snap are two international celebrities who have both got a lot of things to sell – products, movies, themselves mainly. They have had $100,000s of dollars invested into the way they look (from cosmetic and surgical procedures to stylists, clothes, hair, eyebrows, everything and anything). And the way they look is largely dictated to by what men find attractive. So all that control over their bodies? Men are pulling the levers at the very start of the chain. They have personal trainers and dietitians, they starve their bodies and pump certain parts up, maybe because it makes them feel good, but most probably because their bodies need to look a certain way so they can market themselves and earn more money.

Which works for them, but that’s no reason for the rest of us to treat it as a branch of feminism because “empowering.”

Yeah, that equals empowerment to me. Two privileged women in LA (BTW: who have more clothes than some department stores) whose life success has been based on what they look like, topless in a bathroom, with nothing to wear, giving the world the finger.

Send them to gender studies at Oxford University STAT. They have so much to contribute to the discourse. Or, more importantly for gender studies and feminism, let’s send them into the bedrooms of young women across the world to talk about the power of their bodies. The power of all sorts of different shaped, differently used, amazing bodies that will never be perfect but could get you on a basketball team or to work, the beach, to a party with really, really good friends where you laugh and talk even though you are four whole kilograms bigger than you think you should be and your eyebrows aren’t perfect, and your skin isn’t flawless and your stomach isn’t flat and your arms don’t look good without sleeves.

Oh, that’s right, they are in their bedrooms already. Telling our daughters how empowering it is to look exactly like they do and take a nude selfie while you are at it.

Kim’s nude selfies are not about feminism. They are not about liberation or empowerment. They are not about female inclusion. They are about female exclusion. They are about selling the Kardashians. They are about celebrating the “right” type of body – thin, flat stomachs, big boobs kind of like a blow up Barbie.

Of course they are. They’re saying “Don’t you wish you looked like us? You poor sad flabby ordinary women?” What’s “empowering” about that?

They are about screwing with the minds of young women who look at them (because they can’t help but look, they are everywhere, all the time) and think so that is what female liberation looks like.

Kim K’s nude selfie will get attention, it will get clicks, it will allow the Kardashians to keep charging advertisers $200,000 to $400,000 for one Instagram post alone.  It will keep a woman’s value stuck in that awfully fragile and mean and energy sucking world of how they look, not who they are as people.

Vive la Kardashians. They are taking women, one “empowering” selfie at a time, to the very worst place inside herself.

That’s not empowerment. That’s two, very privileged, mean girls in a bathroom taking pictures of themselves and giving the world the finger.

Wait, aren’t they giving the finger to patriarchy?

Hahahahaha just kidding.

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