The world’s gone mad. At least, that’s the only conclusion I could come to after I saw yesterday’s internet photo of the day, and the bizarre responses that followed.
On Twitter, a selfie of Emily Ratajkowski and Kim Kardashian had gone viral. In it, they stand in a bathroom with their breasts exposed, holding their middle fingers up to the camera. It is clearly a picture of two women who enjoy – and make money from – their sexuality. And, perhaps, they should have left it at that. Indeed, Kardashian has, for the most part.
But one of its subjects has long harboured ambitions to become a feminist icon. That is Ratajkowski. Since the photo has gone up, she’s bombarded her Twitter followers with pseudo-intellectual statements explaining its purpose, captioning the image: “However sexual our bodies may be, we need to hve the freedom as women to choose whn & how we express our sexuality”.
It’s not the first time Ratajkowski’s tried to play the feminist. In February she penned a rambling, extremely dull essay for Lenny entitled 'Baby Woman', all about her struggle trying to be "sexy on her own terms". (Pass the violin.) It was lauded across the Twittersphere, just like this photograph has been, where people appear convinced it’s some sort of feminist statement. Those who have criticised it, such as the journalist Piers Morgan, have been hounded for not understanding the cause.
If there’s anyone here who doesn’t understand the cause, it’s Ratajkowski. She seems to be suffering somewhat of an identity crisis. On one hand she wants to fight against the objectification and oppression of women’s bodies, yet she happily profits from her ability to titillate men. This is a woman who appeared in one of the most sexist videos of all time, Blurred Lines, in which she pranced around naked to appease the likes of Robin Thicke. This career highlight did nothing to advance women’s rights. It merely endorsed art that demeans and dehumanises femkind.
Ratajkowski says she wants ownership of her body, yet gladly accepts direction over its use. Indeed, the only acting role I can remember her having was in Gone Girl, where played the male protagonist's mistress – her cameos mostly involving snogging and nudity. Yet she bemoans being sexualised on other people’s terms. As soon as you sign a contract to pose naked, you are being sexualised on someone’s terms. Either stop, or quit complaining.
I’m not saying don’t get your breasts out. Hell, if I looked like Kardashian or Ratajkowski, I’d do exactly the same. I would not, however, kid myself that what I was doing had some sort of deeper meaning to it, or was in any way helping others.
If anything, through their work Kardashian and Ratajkowski have promoted unrealistic ideals for women, many of whom will never be able to achieve the look they both can. And despite really not having to, they have continued to advocate industries that treat us as pieces of meat. We will never get away from objectification when the world's most powerful women continue to sell their bodies. They are not our sisters; they’re our rivals. And their latest publicity stunt is our latest setback.
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