Sunday, 17 February 2019

Sex Tapes and Selfies: In Defence of Kim Kardashian.


Keeping up with the Kardashians…. A programme that divides and unites. I’m assuming that you’ve seen at least one episode but even if you haven’t, you’ll have most definitely seen and heard about the various members of the family. In my experience it tends to unite people in their shared negative opinions about their vacuous, vain, uber-privileged life style and perceived lack of discernible talent. I am here today to put forward an argument that most of the vitriol aimed at this family, in particular the daughters and specifically KIM, is based on internalised misogyny and double standards and that there is more to selfie culture than just vanity.
Lets get started with the first thing that people think about when the name “Kardashian” pops up: Kim’s 2003 sex tape. I haven’t linked to it, not because I don’t approve of it, but because it was sold without her consent. What, a woman didn’t give consent and the guy didn’t face any consequences? Welcome to the rape culture of the 21st Century peeps! But the fact that she didn’t consent for it’s publication, doesn’t detract from the fact that she was a willing participant in that tape. Enjoying a lovely sexy time with her then boyfriend, Ray J.
And that’s what I think so many people, including scores of WOMEN have a problem with. She allowed someone to film her enjoying sex with her own partner. What kind of woman would DO that? What kind of dirty, depraved whore would lower herself like that? The puritanical disgust that woman like Kim K, Paris Hilton et al have made sex tapes is astounding to me. Why on earth is it a problem? What is that disgust based on? It’s based on a dangerous, deeply rooted belief that is still prevalent in our society…. Women who enjoy sex are whores. And whores are bad. Because I don’t see Ray J being accused of being a whore? Oh but he’s a guy! It’s OK for him to have sex and it’s ok for him to enjoy it! Ugh.
This fetishisation of women as virgins or sluts, stems from a culture still heavily influenced by values of a patriarchal religious society. And as a result I believe most of these attitudes about women who enjoy sex and their own sexuality are not even conscious. It’s a default response to be horrified by them. Open any magazine or newspaper and the representation of women who have dated/slept with a lot of men is starkly negative in comparison with the “Lothario” type male celebrity who is back slapped or at worst, eye rolled at.
This is the double standard I can’t cope with. Kim Kardashian had a sex tape. It was published the same year Keeping up with the Kardashians aired, in 2007. Did it help launch her career in the public eye? Almost certainly. But so what? Good for her! She took back some control when she had none. She’s made millions marketing her remarkably rotund posterior. She’s harnessed that sexual attention, she’s acknowledged the male gaze and she’s taken back control. Her body. Her choice.
Talking of her body, we come to the next point. Selfies. The other accusation about the girls in the show is that they’re vain, selfie-obsessed airheads. Rather than astute business women with an eye for marketing that’s made them millions, specifically harnessing their “looks” and using them to sell make up to the millions and millions of young folks clamouring for a taste of Kardashian glamour.
Selfies are seen as vain and I find this a problem. It’s now so much a part of life, that a recent Austrialian study has discovered that 90% of selfies are NOT for the soul purpose of self promotion. Most bloggers I know use selfies frequently in their work to connect with their readers and followers. As the keen photographer in my family, I often will take selfies when we’re out and about or at family event, because if I didn’t there wouldn’t be any evidence that I was even there!
In an age where the pressure to look and feel attractive is arguably more intense than ever before, it seems strange to me that we would castigate those who have the confidence to put themselves out there. Rather than branding people as vain, I think we should be rewarding self love. According to this article, one of the ways to overcome the affect of the male gaze (in short the objectification of women/femmes), is mirror therapy. To centre yourself and become familiar with your own reflection rather than see it through the eyes of others. Not for vanity but as a form of self acceptance.
So whilst I wouldn’t say that the Kardashians are totally unproblematic… promoting weight loss aids, cultural appropriation and benefiting from a level of privilege most people will never experience etc., I don’t believe they deserve all the vilification they receive. Sex tapes and selfies shouldn’t, in my opinion, equal shame. And if you think differently, then shame on you.



3 comments :

  1. I don’t agree with a lot of what I hear/read about the Kardashian’s but I admit I don’t watch their show or follow them so i’m not one to really comment. However I do feel that it’s awful Kim has that sex tape sold without consent. No one deserves that.

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    1. While I think of the family empire and say Good for them; in regards to the selling of a tape without the permission of all parties involved in its production is surely illegal in many countries even the US. It has to lead to questions of those platforms still hosting the video too.

      The article is of course spot on it is the classic Victorian era attitude that seeps through the modern age long when it should have been consigned to the dark age of fairly modern history. Further back in English history and at the age of 8 it is said Queen Elizabeth 1 said she would never marry - She never did, who knows why but maybe that's where the cult of virginity started and thus the shaming of those (females) who enjoy not just sex but also lust and playful flirting.

      Perhaps it's the very long history of English Monarchs and Rulers who had a fear of physical funning; why it's taking so long to enjoy and let live.

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