Kim Kardashian is not a feminist — get over it

Kim Kardashian
Kim Kardashian

Once again, ye old internet is so, so mad that Kim Kardashian is not a feminist. In a recent article that I couldn’t access because Kim K not only rejects feminism but Canadians (Alternate hypothesis: An alarm goes off on her end every time someone tries to use a card with less than $40.00 in credit on it that screams POOR! POOR! and immediately blocks the user lest she infect others with Working Classitis), America’s most-hated obsession reiterated that she doesn’t “label” herself a feminist.

At this point, it’s basically illegal for celebrities not to call themselves feminist, even if they really hate feminism, so naturally dozens of hot takes were published over the past week explaining that actually Kim, you are feminist even if you say you aren’t and even if you think the idea of “women’s liberation” is totally ick.

Through said hot takes I’ve deduced that Kim understands why people might assume she is a feminist, writing, “I work hard, I make my own money, I’m comfortable and confident in my own skin, and I encourage women to be open and honest about their sexuality, and to embrace their beauty and their bodies.”

This is actually unintentionally pointed. The reason internet feminism is so insistent that Kim K is a feminist just like themmmm is because they have chipped away everything political and radical about feminism in order to turn it into merely a label someone can choose to wear. (I mean, how hard is it to just put on a t-shirt! Guys! Guys. Please just put on this t-shirt? You can wipe your jizzy hand on it after you’re done watching Latina Teen Gangbang IV!) We needn’t care about patriarchy and other systems of power that marginalize women; we must simply like sex (especially with men!) and we must feel “confident in [our] own skin” and “embrace our bodies”  in patriarchily-approved ways like by posting selfies of our objectified asses on the internet.

By these standards, I guess Kim K is a feminist — but the problem is not, in fact, her unwillingness to identify as such. The problem is that confidence, liking sex, and embracing our bodies (In patriarchily-approved ways, don’t forget!) don’t actually have anything to do with the fight for women’s liberation.

Tellingly, what really pissed off America’s liberal feminists is Kim’s definition of feminism. She writes:

“For me, a feminist is someone who advocates for the civil and social rights and liberties of all people, regardless of their gender; anyone who believes that women should have the same choices and opportunities as men when it comes to education and employment, their bodies and their lifestyles.”

She goes on to say:

“It’s not about he, she, gay, straight, black, white. The fight for equality is about all human beings being treated equally — regardless of gender, sexuality or ethnicity.”

While central to the Matt McGorry school of meninism is the idea that feminism is for everyone (No, like, literally everyone — feminism isn’t really about women, it’s about people. Specifically male people), it’s not. To be clear, I do believe that any individual can choose to join or ally with the feminist movement, but, in order to do so, they must be on board with the goals of feminism, not simply interested in insisting “I’m a feminist!” over and over again.

Feminism is not, in fact, about advocating “for the civil and social rights and liberties of all people, regardless of their gender.” Why on earth would we call it “feminism” if that were the case? We’d just call it “peopleism” or, hey, we could just use the actual word you’re looking for: “liberalism.” But liberals want to believe that vaguely supporting “rights” for “people” is the same as being a feminist, so they were appalled that Kim would say she believed in said “people rights” but still deny her feminist identity.

(I often wonder why it is that liberals are so stubbornly opposed to aligning themselves with their own cause, and instead try desperately to glom on to ours. Can we please start popularizing “This is what a liberal looks like” t-shirts? Just for the sake of accuracy?)

Kim asks why we “have to put labels on things,” and the answer to that, within the context of political movements, is because it speaks to solidarity. If a woman identifies as a feminist, she is expressing solidarity with women, as a class, and women’s fight towards liberation from patriarchy and the gendered oppression that happens under patriarchy (which manifests itself through things like male violence and sexual abuse/exploitation/objectification/harassment).

Kim says she worries that “being grouped or labeled can create separation between people who do (or don’t) fall into certain categories, when they may actually share many of the same beliefs and goals.” But the point of these “labels” is actually the opposite. Allying with a political movement means you share that movement’s “beliefs and goals” and so to join that movement means, not division, but unity. The thing is that that unity has to be based on more than labels.

At Mashable, y saying ‘The fight for equality is about all human beings being treated equally,’ Kardashian is disengaging with the issue and refusing to acknowledge systemic sexism.” This, indeed, is true, and this is exactly why Kim isn’t a feminist. She doesn’t want to acknowledge that sexism exists, never mind fight against it in a political sense. I mean, she’d be fighting herself if she were to do so, seeing as her entire career rests on sexual objectification — something that is inherently harmful to women.

Oddly, though,

A writer at fbomb points out that “the feminist label” has been “stigmatized” for years (and that Kim’s not helping by distancing herself from it). While this is true, the solution adopted by celebrities, mainstream media, and liberal feminists has been to depoliticize the word and water down the message rather than to actually be brave, and stand up for women regardless of that “stigma.” I mean, feminists are hated for a reason — and that reason is our message and our fight. The solution to opposition is not to cave and to cater to patriarchal, capitalist ideologies, selling our message in a way that placates our enemies — it’s to push back.

While Marcie Bianco at Quartz claims Kardashian is contradicting herself by saying she supports “women’s rights,” “equality,” and “women’s empowerment” but isn’t a feminist, she’s not. She knows full-well that she doesn’t want to be part of the feminist movement and she doesn’t support its goals. To her, “empowering women” just means she supports women’s right to, like, make money and get naked. She wants women to be free to do stuff (All sorts of stuff!), but doesn’t actually want to name or address the reasons why women are treated differently in this world and are dehumanized on the regular. Kim’s just being honest with herself and with the world, which is more than I can say for most of our liberal overlords who push sexual harassment and porn culture as “empowerment,” all the while insisting we call them “feminist.”

Despite the fact that Kim doesn’t really “get” feminism, she actually gets it better than most liberal feminists do. Kardashian isn’t a feminist — deal with it. If you’re looking for allies, find them — stop seeking out celebrity endorsements or trying to justify your own efforts to defang feminism so that you can continue to hashtag your butt selfies #liberated and feel like you aren’t, in fact, the contradictory one.

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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  • marv

    Ultra keen field of vision Meghan. It goes to show being well known liberals doesn’t result in knowing well. It can mean knowing nothing worth knowing.

  • LynB

    But but but… you mean the champagne glass on her butt isn’t empowerzmentalgasmic?? More class, more ass! (Esp if teh likwid explosion looks like a happy ending!)

  • Jack Sprat

    WOW! I’ve said this kind of thing before in a few different places but, since I’m a man, I have obviously just “been hating women and their right to choose to be objectified.” Thank you, Meghan Murphy, for being a voice of reason and being honest enough to point out the obvious.

    I truly hope that as a guy I can continue to learn and grow as a person where this subject is concerned, even though I’m pretty sure that true spiritual and emotional growth on all sides will not occur in my lifetime.

    • Karen Eisen

      jack, I wouldn’t worry so much / good for you for reading feminist current / I think the point of the article is that just because someone is white and wealthy and successful doesn’t necessarily mean she isn’t a victim of the patriarchy (i.e. Pamela Anderson, Kim K, Madonna, Anna Nicole Smith). Sexual objectification isn’t okay, and it’s not okay just because the woman happens to be wealthy.

    • Karen Eisen

      actually, Jack, I sort of know what you mean. I hate it when Leftists condemn all white middle class women (although I’m working class, I tend to identify with white middle class women). Some Leftists even condemn the suffragettes, since most were from middle class or wealthy families. Who are the Leftists hating all white middle class women? They are white middle class and white working class progressives! So I sort of understand how you feel… Please keep on reading feminist current.

  • Reading the line: “The fight for equality is about all human beings being treated equally — regardless of gender, sexuality or ethnicity” I was immediately smelling the same manure-like odor that one detects when encountering an “All Lives Matter” retort to Black Lives Matter.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Yes exactly. It’s exactly the same thing. It’s a polite way of refusing to acknowledge systems of oppression and that some people are more marginalized than others.

  • Cassandra

    Spot on a usual, Meghan. Kim Kardashian is a liberal feminist through and through, which means she’s not a feminist at all.

  • Raquel Rosario Sánchez

    I find it bizarre that she is a woman stating her reasons to not call herself a feminist in accordance, as Meghan points out, to her own ideas and the ways she carries her public persona… but somehow other people are jumping in and going “No, no. You are a feminist!”

    I think a woman like Kim Kardashian is the quintessential vision of a feminist according to liberal feminism and third wave feminism. Think about it: she makes a lot of money (1), she has gained power (cultural, economic) through her own sexual objectification (2), and she constantly reminds people that making lots of money off of her own sexual objectification makes her very happy and empowered, thank you very much! (3).

    From the perspective of a branch of feminism that has been thoroughly co-oped by capitalism and patriarchy, Kim Kardashian is #goals. Hence all the condescending “no, but you are!” For feminism to be both insipid and void of actual transformative power (utterly defanged), it *requires* people of all creeds and walks of life to stake a claim on it even when their actions contradict it or work against it. So thanks Kim K for dithering on this one. Don’t weep too much over this, libfems. There will always be another one like her in just a couple of years; patriarchy will see to that.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Stop objectifying women, stop watching porn, don’t buy sex, learn what masculinity is — then unlearn it, challenge your male friends who engage in sexist behaviour, including porn-use, going to strip clubs, etc.

    I’m sure some others here will have some good suggestions as well.

  • Laura

    i appreciate kim’s honesty here…like i always thought that the kardashians were very trendy but i guess pop feminism is where she draws the line. the mashable article actually mentioned systemic sexism, hopefully kim’s neutered definition of feminism will cause more mainstream media to correct her

  • Kendall Turtle

    We can’t call someone with a penis male, but we can tell a woman she’s feminist even when she says she isn’t.

    • Independent Radical

      Liberals break their own rules all the god damn time. Not only are women who claim to not be feminists still feminists in their minds, but those who claim they are feminists aren’t feminists unless they are sex liberal (if feminism is only about all people being equal why can’t I say that as a feminists I think all people have an equal right to hate sex and society’s obsession with it? What has liking sex got to do with believing that all people are equal?) Furthermore self-proclaimed ex-gays are still gay (not that I endorse gay conversion therapy, but unfortunately it sort of works in some cases) and women who were once straight but choose to practice lesbianism are still straight (or bisexual). They accept whatever identities are convenient to them really.

  • Raquel Rosario Sánchez

    May I add something? Challenge violence against women and girls in all forms and contexts. Stop committing it, if they are, and then address it and challenge it in all forms, at all times. When people makes “jokes” about it, songs that trivialize it, TV shows that glorify it (for example, http://www.feministcurrent.com/2013/04/26/just-because-you-like-it-doesnt-make-it-feminist/)…

    Men and boys need to do all the can to stop the epidemic of violence against women and girls. We’ve lost too many and men are in a unique position to challenge fellow men and boys on this.

  • TheArtistFormerlyKnownAsYoya

    I was really glad to hear that Kim K came out and said this. At least she has realized there’s something more to feminism than selfies, and perhaps it’s more complex and requires more than she originally thought. And she’s not into it and that’s ok. I prefer people acknowledge that than to try and twist the not-at-all feminist things they do into some version of “feminism” they’ve made up to make themselves feel better.

    • Sally Hansen

      exactly, the latter is actually what is destroying feminism.

    • LuckPushedMeFirst

      I actually have a bit of respect for her now. It’s one thing to disingenuously claim a blatantly anti-feminist behavior is “feminist”, it’s another thing entirely to have enough self-awareness to understand your behavior doesn’t align with feminist values and be unabashedly candid about it (if not in so many words). Honesty, self-awareness, integrity…these are words I never thought I’d associate with Kim K.!

      • Meghan Murphy

        Yeah I kinda think it’s worse to call anti-feminist behaviour and ideas ‘feminist’, than it is to simply acknowledge you don’t align with the movement.

  • Sally Hansen

    People, she’s not a feminist. Maybe people should just, ya know, stop telling women what they are, cause like… that’s been patriarchy’s modus operandi since like… the inception of patriarchy. Who better to tell us what Kim Kardashian is than *gasp* Kim HERSELF? Thank you Feminist Current for, ya know, BELIEVING WOMEN when they say things about themselves lol

    • Alienigena

      Uh, I never thought she was … a feminist. And really, I had no real knowledge of her until encountering discussion of her on this site. She is not a public person I really like or admire, I just try to avoid coverage of her for the most part. I don’t expect women to accept random labels, including feminist. I think you actually have to be committed to the principles of feminism (radical) to be a feminist.

  • Kateful Threat

    May I just say one thing on the topic? Something I do like about liberal feminism is that it has made feminist thought more accessible to younger women. I’ve noticed friends and acquaintances from every walk of life standing up for themselves more, not accepting men’s shit. I was glad when Beyoncé called herself feminist, because all the little Beyoncé followers hear that and think hmmm. Maybe me too. I consider it the gateway drug to radical feminism. It was for me anyway.

    • radwonka

      It didn’t made feminism accessible, it just banalized patriarchal norms under the name of “feminism”. Now people think that feminism is about “equality” and “choices” and many “feminists” openly hate the 2nd wave politics. So yeah, we didn’t need such bastardization of our movement. Now we can’t even talk about objectification, socialization and materialism without being labelled as a “hateful bigot”.

      It has done more harm than good clearly: the misogynistic men who objectify and abuse women are considered more feminists than many women by many “liberal feminists”.

    • melissa

      “I’ve noticed friends and acquaintances from every walk of life standing up for themselves more, not accepting men’s shit.”

      I’m seeing the opposite trend. I seeing more and more self proclaimed feminists excusing,justifying, defending and even embracing many forms of misogyny that even a few years ago would’ve been seen as obviously antithetical to feminism. From prostitution , BDSM, porn, gender existentialist trans rhetoric,gender roles, to severe religious/cultural misogyny, all now justified and immune to criticism under the guise of “choice”. Its gotten far harder to challenge misogynistic behaviors with libfems hell bent on constantly and relentless shielding and normalizing it in society.Even when you try oppose or disagree with any of this in the mildest manner possible( and god have i tried), you immediately get a bunch of libfem shaming buzzwords thrown at you and get declared as “not a real feminist” (ironically) ,a “white feminist”, “TERF”,”SWERF” “kink shamer”, “whorephobe” ,”femmephobe”, and “islamaphobe” too at times. .So, yea i have to fundamentally disagree here.I’ve never felt so utterly alienated by “feminists”. You couldn’t have bastardized feminism more if you tried.My coming to Radical feminism happened with my ever shrinking capacity to tolerate their incoherent misogynistic babble, utter lack of self awareness and the sheer cognitive dissonance from mainstream feminists. That’s when i came to know that plain,coherent, consistent opposition to patriarchal misogyny in at-least the most basic forms meant being a “radical” now in 20 freaking 16!. 😛

  • r-rose

    “If you’re looking for allies, find them — stop seeking out celebrity endorsements or trying to justify your own efforts to defang feminism so that you can continue to hashtag your butt selfies #liberated and feel like you aren’t, in fact, the contradictory one.”

  • radwonka

    Eliminating males.

  • marv

    Donate as much as you can to the Feminist Current and/or other feminist collectives. Fundraise too with their direction.

  • stella

    I feel like asking celebrities if they identify as feminists is just a trap to criticize them either way (how can she not be a feminist! Or, she said she’s a feminist but she did something problematic once!)

  • Meghan Murphy

    Yes! The share counter is currently experiencing a glitch which I hope will be fixed soon so it’s not counting properly… 🙁

    (Thanks!)

  • Alienigena

    I just feel that this is a ‘straw man argument’ in terms of the regular visitors to this site who almost universally align with radical feminist thinking.

    I don’t think any of the regular visitors would argue that Kim Kardashian is a feminist. Nothing she has done in her life indicates she is a feminist.

    So is the argument mostly directed at what are referred to as liberal feminists who believe that feminism should be a big and meaningless tent, should encompass everyone and every progressive cause? If so, then I get the reason for article. How many of these faux feminists visit the site? I know that article was also published on rabble.ca. And has received some pretty random (if I can call them that) and puzzling comments. It is really hard to feel sorry for self-absorbed celebrities. If the female athletes who were attacked for their appearance at the Rio Olympics had the wherewithal to ignore the Twit(ter)sphere negativity so should Kardashian, she has been in the public eye for a long time. She should have developed some strategies for ignoring appeals for attention, money, political allegiance.

    • Meghan Murphy

      The article is in response to the numerous articles published by liberals who argued that Kim K was a feminist, despite her saying she was not, yes.

  • radwonka

    Exactly 😉