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.
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.