Feminism: Black, White, and Shades of Gray

I recently read an article on none other than U.S. national treasure, Miley Cyrus.  You see, while I have never exactly been a fan of hers, I can respect some of her ideas Рespecially her recent ones. Ok, so mostly he recent ones. Ok. Only her recent ones.

Miley has been very outspoken about her criticisms for the way that society pigeonholes women. Most notably she has made statements about the perception of women’s breasts – mainly nipples – and how the censorship and ick factor of women’s nipples is kind of, well, bullshit. And it totally is. In fact, I was watching a clip of Miley on Jimmy Kimmel making this exact point, and I couldn’t help but smile at the points that she was making. The over-sexualization of women’s bodies is something that really needs to be thrown away in the garbage. Like now. Let’s kick it to the curb. When’s trash day?

But – and it’s a big but – as I watched this video I saw some related links/comments referencing the recent statement that Miss Cyrus made about the Nicki Minaj vs. Taylor Swift Twitter-tastrophe. Let me tell you, the respect that had grown for Miley quickly plumetted. One-hundred to zero, real quick.

Miley openly dismissed Nicki’s points because Nicki had come across as “angry” and “mean.” I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. Why? Because I am over this pseudo-feminism. Miley has no problem advocating for the FREE THE TITTY!!! campaign yet she openly admitted that she can overlook Nicki’s comment on the industry’s dismissal of women of color simply because Nicki wasn’t polite about it. This is a prime example of what is commonly referred to as white feminism.

“White feminists” are women who advocate to be equal to that of men (they dress up as Rosie the Riveter and talk about how amazing the suffragettes were) but who fail to support, and even worse, to acknowledge, that women of color have struggled in a way that white women will never understand.

Do they know what it feels like to grow up in a world where every leading lady has porcelain skin? Do they feel adolescent shame when they look in the mirror and don’t see themselves as beautiful because the “ideal” woman is shoved in their face everyday – whether it’s a pop star, book character,or Disney princess? The answer is no. White women simply do not have this experience.

And that’s not a crime. Ignorance is not a crime, but you know what is? Parading around as a feminist who is liberated and socially-aware, only to knock down another woman because her struggle is not relevant to you.

Taylor Swift made an ignorant comment, and the moment I saw her reaction to Nicki’s tweet I cringed in embarrassment. I am a fan of Taylor Swift’s music, much more so than Nicki Minaj’s, and as a fan, I felt shame for Taylor. What Taylor saw as a personal attack and “pitting women against women” (irony considering Taylor’s nominated music video was essentially a drawn out and over-done fuck you to Katy Perry) was really just Nicki pointing out how flawed our society is and how women of color are not represented nor given the recognition that they rightfully deserve.

Bottome line for those who consider themselves feminists: Feminism is not just about over-sexualization. It is not just about getting the same income as a man. It is first and foremost about supporting your fellow woman, and acknowledging that every woman experiences different prejudices and dismissals. See things from their perspective. Acknowledge their pain and their struggle, and fight for it as if it’s your own.

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In Defense of Kim Kardashian

So let’s talk about the portrayal of women in the media. Okay, so that’s a very broad spectrum, let’s narrow it down: the portrayal of women in ads and magazines. Photographs that are photoshopped, portraits that have been distorted.

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I hesitated to write about this because it is such a widely discussed topic, like, I figured it’s just like beating a dead horse. However that notion quickly went away because I realized why the photoshopping of women’s bodies in the media is so widely-discussed: because it’s still happening everyday. Things aren’t changing. It’s just a widely renowned fact that the images of women are distorted into cartoony versions of themselves.

The most recent and talked about example of this is the fully nude spread that reality star, Kim Kardashian, recently did for Paper Magazine. Everyone and their mother seem to be so concerned about how Kim hasn’t grasped “motherhood” because she’s released these nude photos, but why aren’t more people criticizing the use of photoshop in those photos?

Some parts of Kim’s body were vastly altered to be much smaller than they actually are: waist, arms, even nipples for crying out loud. The magazine’s distortion of Kim’s body is ultimately them rejecting her actual body as a woman and a mother. Yet people are saying that Kim is at fault for not grasping the meaning of “motherhood.” Women need to stop attacking each other for being comfortable enough to expose their bodies, first of all, and realize that their opinions are based on old-fashioned standards set by a patriarchal society.

Instead of shaming her, why aren’t we shaming the magazine industry for contributing to the culture of distorting perceptions of women’s bodies? By making her waist thinner (thus accentuating other parts of her body) they are objectifying her. Her body is no longer her own but a tool used to peak the interest of men.

Sure, perhaps Kim intended for that. I’m sure she is very aware of her status as a sex symbol, but I applaud her for making a decision regarding her own body nonetheless, and I doubt it was her idea to do all the “touch ups” that are obvious in the photo.

Women’s bodies aren’t something that they should be shamed for. It’s our culture that needs to stop twisting things around and hiding the truth about women’s bodies: like men, we too come in all different shapes and sizes