Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire


Kim Kardashian’s Butt + Open-Mindedness

I have not always described myself as the most “feminist” person. Sure, I participated in controversial social movements, notably in the gay rights movement by founding a gay-straight alliance at the boarding school I attended. But it took moving out of the South and into the ultra-liberal community that is Whitman College to confirm the wide and radical extent of America’s opinions on social issues like feminism and gay rights.

Of course, moving somewhere new exposes us to new beliefs. But, it is exceedingly difficult to be open-minded and aware of other beliefs when we only encounter them through the media. Most people are familiar with “Duck Dynasty” and “Toddlers & Tiaras” and all of those reality television shows that seem like entirely foreign worlds compared to the culture of the Pacific Northwest. We only view these cultures on TV, though, and we are unable to consciously digest the fact that people across the United States really agree with the radical beliefs they represent.

When Kim Kardashian willingly and encouragingly published objectifying naked photographs of herself in Paper magazine –– photos that went viral –– most feminists (and Whitman College students) thought something along the lines of “Are you kidding me?” Liberal feminists view stars of reality shows, like Snooki and Kim Kardashian, as caricatured embodiments of the degradation of the female. Kim posed for Playboy, took credit for a sex tape that was released in 2007 and is rumored to have undergone plastic surgery. According to the editorial director of Paper, “it was her idea to take off her clothes and show more than her butt.”

In effect, she makes a career out of sexualizing herself, and this is something that most feminists, understandably, detest. By owning that lifestyle, Kim Kardashian backstabs generations of women who protested a media culture that put pressure on women to portray themselves as sexual objects for men.

This is my take on the issue, and I imagine most of the Whitman College community would agree. However, my view is different from the majority of the American response to Kim’s naked butt. Some reacted to the controversy with the argument that the celebrity’s naked photos encourage female empowerment and break the social bond that traps female self-expression. Suchi Sundaram of web blog “Feminspire” wrote that, by objectifying herself, “[Kim Kardashian] exemplifies the liberties that she can take in this society to achieve her goals.” Cosmopolitan magazine contributor Danielle Henderson even said, “You can’t deny her power, her business acumen … she presents her life as a work of art.”

So, while it is easy to jump on the feminist bandwagon and say, “Are you kidding me?” in response to naked Kim, it is crucial, in light of social controversies, to be open-minded toward the ideas that other, less liberal groups present. I cannot say I was not shocked and disgusted by her photos at first. I can, however, say that supportive arguments that my North Carolinian friends brought up caused me to realize that I had entrenched myself in one belief. Although Kim does seem to make a career out of her body, she owns everything she does. Even though it may be self-degrading, she is confident, powerful and takes her own lead. This is a perception worth noticing, whether it changes your opinion or not.

By immediately accepting a point of view because it is what everyone seems to think, we position ourselves against other beliefs that are worth considering. As a liberal born and raised, the conception of my own open-mindedness tends to couple with a sense of superiority over those who have opposite opinions. But, when this superiority sets in, the open-mindedness slowly fades. My open-mindedness surrounding Kim was deficient until I forced myself to actually take my friends’ views into consideration.

Without awareness of the diversity of beliefs within this country, opinions cannot change. If you don’t move somewhere radically new at some point in your life, then you must consciously strive toward a constant sense of awareness and acceptance. Maybe, if you reach that goal, someone will change your entire opinion.

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