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Send Nudes: Kim Kardashian, Feminism, and the Right to Bare All

When you’re like I have nothing to wear LOL

A photo posted by Kim Kardashian West (@kimkardashian) on

Kim Kardashian is nothing if not fascinating in the truest sense of the word. Love her or hate her, people don’t seem to stop talking about her, even as they complain that no one stops talking about her. She’s also a woman, one of several in a business empire led by women, which means that she’s going to be scrutinized more than a man in her position would be even if she posted photos of herself in business suits all day.

She posted the above “throwback” photo on Instagram a couple of days ago. Keep in mind that she recently gave birth to her second child, and is probably actually sitting around in sweatpants (albeit really fancy designer sweatpants). It was a throwaway joke post that she threw her own black bars over so that it would comply with Instagram’s current policies.

But apparently, the #FreeTheNipple fight is only for women who post pictures of their bare breasts for artsy or political reasons – you know, real reasons – not for “attention-seekers” (“attention whores?”) like Kardashian.

Because as we all know – the worst thing a woman can do in the world is seek attention. No one likes a woman who wants to be seen.

Inevitably the negative comments started piling up on the photo. At first, Kardashian took them in stride:

So basically, this is a woman who’s just given birth trying to make herself feel sexy (because society tends to make women feel like crap if they don’t look a certain way) by posting a motivating picture of herself. That’s actually pretty impressive. When lots of women have #fitnessgoals, they often seek “thinspiration” outside themselves. Kim Kardashian just be like I wanna get back to Me a Year Ago!

But then other celebrities started depositing their two cents on her photo, so what was basically a #TBT not on a Thursday ended up being “news.”

Really Bette? Really? No, the entire point is that she’s showing us exactly what she wants us to see – no more, no less. And yes, she’s taken nudes before, so it seems weird that Midler is pouncing on this one. And why did she feel the snide comment about “swallowing the camera” was necessary?

This tweet from Chloe Moretz is at least a well-meaning, thoughtful argument about feminism. And yet, she seems to be missing the fact that, by making this comment, she’s feeding into the very environment she’s criticizing. Yes, women are more than just their bodies, but that doesn’t mean they’re separate from them, nor does it mean that they shouldn’t present that body any way they like in public without being shamed for it. What’s more, re: “setting goals” – uh, Moretz realizes that Kardashian also runs or co-runs several multi-million dollar businesses, right? She also happens to be a wife and a mom to two kids.

Yes, there is more to Kardashian than just her body – yet her body is the only thing anyone seems to comment on.

Oh, and then there’s this asshole:

Well, it’s good to know that he doesn’t just reserve his contempt for the breasts of older women. He wants younger women to cover up, too. When will Morgan realize that no one cares about how he thinks women should present themselves?

After a while, Kardashian started firing back in ways that were often hilarious:

OK, that swipe at Moretz was totally unnecessary given what Moretz was trying to say. Also, there are plenty of people who don’t know who Kim Kardashian is, or why she’s famous. Just because you haven’t heard of someone doesn’t mean no one has, and if I’m going to talk about women tearing down other women, I’ve got to point this out, too.

Except that later, Moretz tweeted:

Except…that’s kinda what she just did by using a throwaway photo Kardashian posted as an opportunity to preach about how, by being nude, she’s undermining everything else she’s done. By equating “respecting the platform that you’re given as a celebrity” with whether or not a woman is clothed, or how much she’s clothed. By reinforcing the idea that a woman naked automatically means she’s taken less seriously, but not taking men any less seriously when we see topless or sexily-posed photos of them.

In the case of Midler and Morgan, it’s clear that their only intent was to take cheap pot-shots and insert themselves into a national conversation. In the case of Moretz, it’s more complicated. She’s a young feminist with a platform who’s trying to do good when expressing herself, and the pot-shot was on Kardashian’s part. I wish Kardashian would’ve taken that moment to tell Moretz that her nudity shouldn’t distract young girls from the fact that she’s an entrepreneur in a family of female entrepreneurs. That women are multi-faceted and shouldn’t have to “pick a side” of themselves in order to play into respectability politics.

But look, that’s a lot for 140 characters.

As individual women, we may or may not choose to use our bodies or our sexuality as a mode of empowerment. As individual women, we may not even understand how another woman could ever even see it that way, and so it’s easier to look at a naked woman and write her off as “feeding into the male gaze.” But if feminism is about every woman having the choice to move freely through the world and designing her own life free from gender-based bias, then we have to respect other women’s choices, even if we don’t agree with them, as long as those choices don’t interfere with another’s right to choose.

#FreetheNipple is for all of us, kids.

(via The Daily Dot, featured image via Instagram)

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Teresa Jusino (she/her) is a native New Yorker and a proud Puerto Rican, Jewish, bisexual woman with ADHD. She's been writing professionally since 2010 and was a former TMS assistant editor from 2015-18. Now, she's back as a contributing writer. When not writing about pop culture, she's writing screenplays and is the creator of your future favorite genre show. Teresa lives in L.A. with her brilliant wife. Her other great loves include: Star Trek, The Last of Us, anything by Brian K. Vaughan, and her Level 5 android Paladin named Lal.