Is it wrong to be worried for today’s youth? Looking back with hindsight can paint a distorted picture yet growing up never seemed as difficult as it is now.
Back in my formative years Girl Power was an actual thing. The girls I grew up with would have seen a female Prime Minister leave office then The Spice Girls lead the charts while Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell ruled the catwalks. These were empowering times and some of the girls from my school year have gone on to achieve greatness in their careers. While we all struggled through puberty some are now doctors, veterinaries and tree surgeons. As far as powerful, successful role models went they had a few to look up to. I look around now and I start to worry.
After a week in which Julien Blanc had his Australian visa revoked, the misogynist views of Dapper Laughs were cancelled for a second season and Ched Evans began training for Sheffield United I wonder who teenage girls could look up to? Then it happened.
Kim Kardashian broke the internet, only she didn’t as I wouldn’t be able to upload this. By Thursday afternoon even the stoic elders of my office were all too aware of her greased behind. The reactions were not of disbelief but grimacing revulsion. We have come to expect as much from celebrities as it gets harder and harder to provoke a response. As a PR stunt this worked brilliantly, in the run-up to Christmas she needs to get people talking to sell her range of perfumes and whatever else the Kardashian brand has attached itself too. Judging by the amount of memes on Facebook walls, this has gone viral.
The frightening thing is to look at it through the eyes of an impressionable teenage girl. ITV2 commissioned a series of Dapper Laughs where his ‘harmless banter’ instructs boys to “show her your penis, if she cries she’s just playing hard to get.” Julien Blanc could still be on his way to the UK where he can set up workshops to teach men how to pick-up girls through persistence, psychological abuse and sexual violence. An unrepentant convicted rapist has been welcomed back to train with the club he tarnished through association while his victim is in police protection.
Out of all that who does she look up to? Charlie Webster and Jessica Ennis-Hill have made their stand on Ched Evans by disassociating themselves from Sheffield United. That’s great, until you realise the dirge of thousands of internet trolls and rape threats. Standing up for women’s rights should not occur with such danger inevitably attached.
Then Kim Kardashian bares her arse, the damage is done and suddenly it seems a whole lot harder to find responsible role models. What can girls aspire to when a woman can bare all and the world seemingly stops in its tracks? Kardashian herself may take the plaudits and the brunt of the response yet this stunt would not have been solely orchestrated by her. It has been choreographed and managed well enough by her team to be seen as somewhat acceptable, no matter how much gratuitous, greased up flesh is shown. It has also been pointed out to me that the image has racial undertones that TheGrio.com have pointed out, undertones that I suspect Kardashian is unaware of and that her team will strenuously deny any knowledge of.
As if pornography wasn’t giving teenage boys enough unrealistic expectations of women already. In the eyes of a testosterone-addled teenage boy the fact that the photo (memes included) is all over the internet indicates that it’s clearly not porn and people are finding it funny therefore it’s fine. The expectation remains that if you’ve got it, flaunt it so girls should bare as much skin as possible. Cheers Kim.
When men are treating women like objects to be plied to their predatory whims they should have better placed role models than Kim Kardashian helping to prove that you don’t need a brain or forthright opinions to get noticed and be ‘successful’. All you need to do is keep a figure, make a sex tape, marry someone rich and famous then ensure you keep everyone aware of how low you will go to remain in the public eye. A dangerous role model for impressionable young girls.
Women can do so much in this world. They can be doctors, nurses, writers, campaigners, artists, film-makers, soldiers and yet one world can bare her arse and the whole world stops to gawp.