If you follow celebrity news, then you’ve probably already heard about Sharon Osbourne’s recent (and questionable) criticism of Kim Kardashian. For those just catching up, here are the basics:
In a recent interview with The Telegraph, The Talk co-host slammed Kim for some of the revealing pictures she posts online.
“Kim says she’s doing everything in the name of feminism, but that’s not feminism!” Sharon argued to the publication. “Those girls live off their bodies, half of LA has been through them, and everything they do from the sex tape to the plastic see-through dresses and the gym wear is about sex, not female progress. If Kim wants to show off her body, fine. But that’s not feminism, that’s being a ho. And there’s nothing wrong with being a ho, but always remember what you are.”
As it turns out, Kim would beg to differ. She was reported as sharing with E!:
“First of all, I think she said I said a quote about, ‘I post nude photos in the name of feminism.’ Never said that. So I think when people misquote you and then comment, it just sounds ridiculous. I post nude photos because I like how I look and I feel proud when I’ve lost all this baby weight and I post it because I feel like posting it and I feel powerful.”
She continued, “But I’ve never been like the ‘free the nipple’ kind of girl so…if I post a photo, I post it because I like how I look. So she kind of misquoted me on that and I thought it just looked really, like stupid.”
Kim went on to clarify her comments in the September issue of Harper’s Bazaar Arabia.
“I said once before that I’m not really a feminist, but I feel I do a lot more than people that claim that they’re feminist. To clarify what I said before: I feel in my soul I’m a feminist. I just don’t need labels to make me feel or know what I am inside.”
She continued, “Modern feminists are all the girls around us today. Every time you look on social media and there’s someone standing up for themselves, to me, that’s a modern feminist. There’s such an amazing group of girls that empower each other.”
Following Osbourne’s comments, she received considerable backlash — specifically over her choice of wording (yes, “ho” is short for “whore,” in case there was any confusion) – Osbourne doubled down on her stance in an interview with Entertainment Tonight, saying,
“I don’t know Kim other than the superficial, ‘Hello, how are you.’ So […] it’s just my instinct is that she isn’t [a feminist]. I don’t think because she takes her clothes off and is confident with that, that makes you a feminist. That makes you confident, but it doesn’t naturally go with being a feminist. […] I don’t think that there’s anything wrong in what she does. There’s nothing wrong at all, but because you strip off, doesn’t mean that you’re a feminist.”
Okay. There’s a lot to unpack here.
First, it’s important to point out that it’s okay to be confused by all of this. While feminism at its core is simply about equality and equal opportunity for people of all sexes and genders, in practice, there are a wide variety of perspectives and opinions among people who consider themselves feminists. Feminist are people, and people are complex.
And here’s the thing: I’m someone who has thought about these kinds of issues for (literally) countless hours of my life, and even I’m conflicted by everything above. While I in no way condone Sharon Osbourne’s choice of words (because calling a woman who is free with her body a “ho” enforces literal millennia of female-specific sex shaming and promotes extremely regressive attitudes about women and sexuality), I also believe there is a definite trend of women in media allowing themselves to be objectified in the name of feminism.
As in, sharing super photoshopped and overtly sexual images based on unrealistic standards of beauty that are catered to the male gaze, and all in the name of “empowerment.” In fact, I’m willing to wager that there are women who feel embittered when they see scantily-clad, photoshopped women telling the world that they are posting nude photos of themselves because of “feminism.”
But like I said, it’s complicated.
At the end of the day, this is what I do know: There are bound to be disagreements with how each of us approach feminism (because again, feminists are people, and people are complicated), and it is okay to voice our disagreements with one another in the fight for equality. But it is not okay to use regressive and anti-feminist language when voicing our dissent.
Disagreeing with the way Kim Kardashian practices feminism does not give you the right to call her a whore — especially when you are specifically discussing what she chooses to do with her body.
Doing so only serves to promote slut-shaming, as well as the idea that women who are free with their bodies can’t be feminists — and this couldn’t be further from the truth (in fact, Osbourne, a self-proclaimed feminist, posted her own nude selfie back in 2016). Basically, regardless of what Osbourne was trying to say, the way she said it undermines so much of what feminism is about. And this is why her comments are so problematic.
At the end of the day, we will likely never 100% agree on the “right way” to practice feminism, but tearing each other down — with misogynistic language and attitudes — is 100% not the way to go about it.