As noble the cause is, feminism is a loaded word. Over the last decade, the definition of feminism has been warped, distorted, misquoted, ironically by women themselves. To center ourselves lest we forget the real meaning: it is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes”, according to Oxford Dictionary.
But according to model-turned-actress Emily Ratajkowski, it has plenty to do with female sexuality and sexiness. Oh, don’t forget — #liberated. If you follow a semblance of her, you’ll know that feminism has consciously been Ratajkowski’s brand for a while now. By the way, this zeitgeist she’s repping, comes after her (topless) appearance in Robin Thicke’s now-controversial ‘Blurred Lines’ music video back in 2013. The supermodel’s public persona hasn’t changed since then, but her voice certainly has. Nude pictures on a horse, topless posts with Kim.K, lingerie, more lingerie, artsy shots of ambiguous body close-ups, and even something to do with writhing around in pasta. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good view from where I’m sitting — after all, the woman is undeniably sculpted by the hands of God.
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It’s empowering to see a woman embrace and love her body as she should — bra or not, body hair or not. The 30-year-old has been spewing nothing but facts in her social media movement and public interviews, but should it be swept under the umbrella of feminism? This is where I’m left feeling a little confused and sceptical. In an interview with Elle where she was announced as the new face of Keratase, Ratajkowski said: “Feminism is about the choices we make, and the freedom we have to make personal choices without judgement [sic] or retribution.” A statement that somehow went hand in hand for a huge commercial deal she had just taken on?
Basically, freedom of expression is what she’s calling it. In her world, it’s putting her sexuality and sex appeal on display 90% of the time. The other 10%, she publicly supports Planned Parenthood and defends misogynistic tweets (mostly from Piers Morgan).
So here’s where the lines are blurred (sorry, just had to), uploading a barely-covered thirst trap with a caption calling out an abortion ban in Alabama or passing off an expensive haircare campaign deal as feminism seems rather far-fetched. These are subject matters that can actually be addressed mutually exclusive. Ratajkowski can still very well be a feminist and be unabashedly sexy, without linking the two together.
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Granted, while we’re all seeking out our own ways and definitions of what it’s like to be a modern-day feminist, over-sexualising the cause isn’t exactly the way to go. Especially with high-profile publications lauding her for the unofficial spokesperson of feminism, replete with personal essays and whatnot, the cause is lost somewhere between her salacious selfies and toned butt cheeks. What is the real message from a post like that?
Why can’t women just be sexy? Without justifying it with feminism. We can, and we should be able to celebrate our beauty and bodies without associating social, economic, and political gender equality in the mix. So don’t mind me, I for one, am on a hunt for a new bikini.
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