(Full disclaimer: this is a piece written by my friend Mei-Lu McGonigle, which I have asked for and received permission to share; these are her words, not mine; I thought them important to share, and am grateful Mei-Lu has given me permission to do so):
“I firmly believe that there’s enough material to write two strong position papers: a feminist defense of Kim Kardashian West AND a feminist critique of Kim Kardashian West. But the critique would not address her appearance or her taking selfies.
When a woman panders to male gaze as Kim Kardashian West does, for enormous financial reward, the enemy is not the easy target (KKW & her vanity), the enemy is patriarchy. Sisters and brothers, let’s keep our eyes on the prize. When we attack KKW we’re feeding into the myth of female competitiveness, “cattiness”, shrillness, and we replace one culture of control over appearance with another. It’s a great way to keep feminists fighting amongst themselves rather than focusing our energy on the real enemy: patriarchy.
As females, we grow up in a culture of intense judgment and scrutiny, where any excuse to bring us down is routinely used on us by authority figures, even the ones whose jobs are to enable us to grow into the best versions of ourselves possible. We have to be absolutely perfect in order to be considered peers with men and when we fail to be perfect (because, like the challenges set to Cinderella by her stepmother, the perfection we’re expected to achieve is unattainable) by being too fat, too thin, too beautiful, not beautiful enough, too fashion & beauty obsessed, too dowdy, we are mercilessly pilloried for it. Just take a look at the Democratic nominees. If you’re anything like me, you’ve internalized this culture of female disempowerment so deeply that you find yourself internally criticizing Hillary with an intensity that you don’t extend to Bernie, even if you are rooting for her. (Even when people criticize Sanders or Trump’s appearance, it doesn’t have the force of the criticisms leveled at Clinton. Unlike Sanders & Trump, Clinton does not have the luxury of presenting herself however the fuck she wants & still be taken seriously.) This is the deepest, most insidious, most difficult form of sexism to combat because it has been reinforced in us so deeply.
So I ask you, with respect, whenever you’re about to make a statement in judgment of a woman’s choices, please consider not making it. And please know that, even if I don’t agree with you on this or any other issue, I still respect you. Because I believe diversity of opinion makes us smarter and makes our society so much more interesting. Peace out!”
(via Mei-Lu McGonigle)