Balancing Act: Sorry, Piers Morgan: Feminism Is Stronger Than A Couple Of Topless Selfies

By Heidi Stevens
Chicago Tribune

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Great article from Heidi Stevens on the Kim Kardashian/Emily Ratajkowski topless selfie controversy and Piers Morgan’s critical response on Twitter.  Are nude selfies empowering to women? Not from Heidi’s perspective. But as she points out, that doesn’t mean she or Piers Morgan for that matter should decide whether they’re empowering to other women.

Chicago Tribune

The last time I wrote about Piers Morgan, his fans filled my Twitter feed with hand-scrawled drawings of the male anatomy and a detailed accounting of all my physical flaws. So I suppose I have that to look forward to.

Still, I can’t have him declaring the death of feminism without weighing in.

In response to Kim Kardashian’s latest topless selfie, this time with model Emily Ratajkowski, Morgan tweeted “RIP Feminism,” with a photo of suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst next to Kardashian and Ratajkowski’s picture.

Let’s give feminism a little more credit.

Responsible for earning women the right to vote, own property, attend college, work outside the home, open their own credit card accounts, demand equal pay for equal work, serve in the military, access birth control, protect their own reproductive rights, fight domestic violence and push back against sexual harassment in the workplace, feminism will not be killed off by a semi-nude selfie.

When Kardashian caught heat for another nudie pic earlier this month, she defended the photo on her blog, writing, “I am empowered by my body. I am empowered by my sexuality. I am empowered by feeling comfortable in my skin.”

Wednesday’s side-by-side with Ratajkowski appeared to be a continuation of that conversation, with Ratajkowski offering some thoughts via Twitter.

“However sexual our bodies may be, we need to (have) the freedom as women to choose (when) & how we express our sexuality,” she wrote.

And then, “We are more than just our bodies, but that doesn’t mean we have to be shamed for them or our sexuality. #liberated”

Morgan wasn’t buying it.

“I love women & 100 percent support gender equality,” he tweeted, shortly after his “RIP Feminism” comment. “But pretending that topless bird-flicking selfies promote feminism is ridiculous.”

So is pretending they’ll kill it.

In 2014’s “Feminism Unfinished: A Short, Surprising History of American Women’s Movements,” authors Dorothy Sue Cobble, Linda Gordon and Astrid Henry push back against the notion that there is, or ever was, a singular agenda to which all feminists hew.

“In a diverse country like the United States, we cannot expect different groups of women to have identical agendas,” they write. “We cannot expect poor women feeding their families on food stamps to have the same priorities as female lawyers hoping to become partners in law firms.”

Same goes for entertainers and scientists, teachers and politicians, stay-at-home moms and professional athletes. Different women, different needs, priorities, agendas. We can make room for those differences without killing off feminism.

Are nude selfies empowering? Not to me. But that doesn’t mean I decide whether they’re empowering to other women.

As the “Feminism Unfinished” authors note: “We see feminism as an outlook that is ever being reinvented by new groups of women. Feminism necessarily changes as the world women inhabit changes.”

RIP? Not so fast.

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