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Piers Morgan, Am I Doing Feminism Right?

Hey Piers,

The prevailing wisdom seems to be that women should try not to care about the trash opinions of men, but I’m tired of taking the high road when it comes to male opinions on the Internetso hi!

Often, when I write about you, or Scott Adams, or Chris Brown, or Bret Easton Ellis, or Adam Baldwin, or any of the other incorrigible, relatively high-profile misogynists out there, I see comments like “of course [insert man’s name here] had a bad opinion on gender politics! How is this news?” But just because something isn’t surprising doesn’t mean it should be ignored. Some people might argue that it’s a waste of time for feminists to bother with the opinions of irredeemably sexist men (as you appear to be!), but when those men have a significant social media following (like you do!), it’s hard for me not to consider how those opinions will influence their fans. Assuming some of your nearly 5 million twitter followers are there in good faith and not just to gawk at controversy, you have a wide audience of people who respect you and value your insight. A wide audience to whom you announced the death of feminism yesterday after Kim Kardashian and Emily Ratajkowski shared a nude selfie:

Over the past 13+ hours, you’ve continued shaming the two women:

Piers, you are not the arbiter of feminism, and you are not an ally. It’s unbelievably disingenuous to feign concern over the future of feminism when you’ve used your significant social media platform so often in the past to publicly shame women for expressing opinions on women’s rights. Remember that time you compared the Jezebel writers to Nazis for an article they wrote in support of Susan Sarandon? Judging from your track record, it seems less like you think feminism is dead because two hot ladies showed their boobs, and more that you’re scared of modern Western women taking advantage of the benefits feminism offers them.

You used Emmeline Pankhurt’s image in that tweetI imagine she’d have a few choice words on you invoking her legacy for this purpose!—and you’re right that the challenges facing Western women now are much different than the challenges faced by Pankhurst and her fellow suffragettes. But modern Western women still deal with rape culture, threats to our reproductive rights, and undeniable gender bias in the workplace, among other significant systemic challenges that we’re told by men are irrelevant compared to the struggles endured by women in the past, or modern women in developing countries.

The thing is, I doubt you’ll meet a Western feminist who isn’t grateful to the legacy of historic feminists, or who doesn’t agree that women in the third world face significantly more challenges than women in the west. We’re allowed to be aware of our privilege as modern Western women and still want to improve our own lives. Those ideas aren’t mutually exclusive, and acting as if they are is just a form of silencing women. You tell us to stop asking for so muchPankhurst helped get us the right to vote, isn’t that enough?—but all we’re asking for is the rights you as a man already have.

I’m reminded of something Teresa Jusino wrote the last time people, yourself included, hassled Kim Kardashian after she posted a nude selfie: “the worst thing a woman can do in the world is seek attention. No one likes a woman who wants to be seen.” Teresa’s being sarcastic here, for the record, but the point is that you and other men accuse women of ‘seeking attention’ as if that’s a bad thing. As if there’s something inherently wrong in wanting eyes on us. As if seeking fame, and taking up space, and making a pointall things women are shamed foraren’t seen as God-given rights for men.

I’m also reminded of something Emily Ratajkowski herself wrote last month after she was widely criticized for delivering a speech in support of Bernie Sanders (a speech which men responded to by telling Ratajkowski to “show us your tits”; when her shirt’s on, men want it off, when it’s off, feminism’s dead, I guess). In an essay for Lenny Letter, Ratajkowski described the many times she was implicitly shamed by teachers and family members simply for having a mature body at a young age. She describes a family member sobbing at the dinner table out of concern for how men would respond to Ratajkowski’s developing body. And she writes:

I see my naked body in the mirrors of all the places I’ve lived, privately dressing, going through my morning routine. I get ready for my day as one of my many roles in life — student, model, actress, friend, girlfriend, daughter, businesswoman. I look at my reflection and meet my own eyes. I hear the voices reminding me not to send the wrong message.

And what is that message exactly? The implication is that to be sexual is to be trashy because being sexy means playing into men’s desires. To me, “sexy” is a kind of beauty, a kind of self-expression, one that is to be celebrated, one that is wonderfully female. Why does the implication have to be that sex is a thing men get to take from women and women give up? Most adolescent women are introduced to “sexy” women through porn or Photoshopped images of celebrities. Is that the only example of a sexual woman we will provide to the young women of our culture? Where can girls look to see women who find empowerment in deciding when and how to be or feel sexual? Even if being sexualized by society’s gaze is demeaning, there must be a space where women can still be sexual when they choose to be.

[…] I refuse to live in this world of shame and silent apologies. Life cannot be dictated by the perceptions of others, and I wish the world had made it clear to me that people’s reactions to my sexuality were not my problems, they were theirs.

Kardashian and Ratajkowski taking a nude picture together while flipping the world off is a feminist act. The world has told Kardashian that by asking for attention she’s undermining her intelligence, acting unseemly, and somehow negating her significant business accomplishments. It’s told Ratajkowski that simply existing in the open is dangerous for a woman, that she must cover up and hide in order to be safe from men. For the two of them to stand together in solidarity, asking for attention and claiming their nudity as a thing that’s for them, not an invitation to men, is radical.

That’s what I think this comes down tothis picture isn’t for men. It’s not an invitation for you to comment or proposition them. It’s not ladylike, it’s not gracious, and it’s not compromising. It’s a threat to your understanding of how a woman should be. Feminism isn’t dead, but your world order might be.

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