My current focus in terms of those who represent an aspect of celebrity culture and social media that I want to explore are those like Kim Kardashian – who use selfies for branding purposes.
Something that Amalia Ulman said in a talk she did around Instagram art really stayed with me as it explained something that I’m trying to tap into when it comes to selfie culture and feminism and it’s to do with:
Stating in one way or another that you are untouched by external values and demands
Kim Kardashian, has very recently been in the news for not aligning herself with feminists but stating that others would call her so and that she’s all about being empowered by your body
However I think Amalia Ulman’s point here helps to uncover the overwhelming contradiction, which I find so fascinating. It’s all about empowerment for women, being untouched by patriarchy or ‘the male gaze’, or to say I’m not affected by the overtly sexualised stamp of the entertainment industry. I don’t play to that however, it just so happens, at the exact same time, coincidentally me doing a mirror selfie in my bathing suit (??) which gives me some really solid side boob, me being empowered with my body on my Instagram just so happens to precisely co-allign with what sells always. Sex and sexualization.
I don’t wish to attack Kim Kardashian here, she’s just a great example of how this interplays, and the narrative becomes all the more in depth when you contrast her Instagram images with her tweets and comments she’s made about female empowerment etc.
Do we use the phrase female empowerment too easily? I think so. My friend said something fascinating to me a while ago. She was saying that feminism is an academic study, the you can learn at University and is researched by academics just like say physics, or economics et al. However, I think it is a topic where we feel we can freely engage in without a huge understanding of its history. This could be in part because feminism has so many different definitions and has a lot of fluidity – especially when it comes to the Internet.
The most interesting thing I discovered though, on my friends advice was to type in ‘feminism’ into YouTube. These are the results that came up on the first page:
They’re not in order but the first YouTube video that comes up is:
Anti-Feminist girl destroys feminism
A few others include
Man body slams feminist with facts
MILO schools black feminist
And they are predominantly very negatively inclined towards the idea of feminism.
I find it truly astonishing that on both sides of the feminist debate there seems to be such a gross amount of misunderstanding, miscommunication and negativity, and it is fuelled by the internet.