March 8, 2016

HICKMON | Place in the Movement

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Black History Month was lit, like, it was a lituation. And I had a feeling that Women’s History Month was going to be too, especially when Melissa Harris-Perry started it off by leaving her post at MSNBC and spilling all the tea on Twitter. (What did we do before social media allowed us glimpses into the salacious lives of American celebrities?) But then, Kim Kardashian posted a nude selfie and the timeline went from discussing women’s empowerment to slut-shaming, spewing patriarchal nonsense and outright judging Kim for her behavior.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not about to post nudes to my Instagram, but as a self-identified and proud feminist, I will march for Kim, or anyone else’s right to do so. It does not make her less of a mother, woman or human being worthy of respect (and if you think it does then your penchant for respectability politics is showing and you should do better). Kanye does not need to buy her clothes or tell her to cover up — it is her body and she can do what she wants with it — contrary to popular belief.

Like Black History, Women’s History is often told through the lens of certain narratives — narratives that leave out women who do not fit the so called “mold of domesticity” or engage in behaviors that are not deemed respectable and lady-like. In some ways, we have come so far with regard to how we view and engage with women. In others, I look at Twitter, Instagram or overhear a conversation in Trillium and think we’re still living in the 18th and 19th centuries when all women were good for was having children and keeping house. I get it, portraying females as worthy of respect probably helped us achieve things like the right to vote and creates a society in which Hillary Clinton could very well become the next President of the United States. And even though we’re at the very least in the room now, we cannot become complacent. It is time for feminism, womanism or whatever belief about women, our history and place in society you hold, to advance even further. It’s time for women’s history and feminism to truly make space, be accessible to and advocate for everybody.

In 2016, Women’s History Month should celebrate both Rosa Parks and Claudette Colvin, Kim Kardashian and Malala, Caitlyn Jenner and Sonia Sotomayor, Michelle Obama and Beyoncé. There has got to be space at the table for both Gloria Steinem and the girl who lives down the street that has never even heard of feminism but knows that she believes in the equality of the sexes and supports women’s rights. We as women have to begin to allow each other to be full human beings. People who are sexual, silly, make mistakes, want five children or never want to get married. Just because you wouldn’t do it, doesn’t make it wrong for someone else to engage as long it’s not harming themself or anyone else.

All Kim posting a nude selfie does is make her more money. You know why? Because it keeps her in the news — being Googled, tweeted and written about. If you’re so mad that someone like Kim Kardashian has a platform to do and say whatever she wants to, stop talking about her. Stop watching her shows. Stop playing her video game. But don’t you dare shame her because her choices differ from yours. I can’t imagine what the women who first fought for our right to exist outside of the male gaze and as entities of male consumption would think about Kim Kardashian and her place in the movement, because I’m not them. But, I’m confident that I want no parts of your “feminism” or “Women’s History” if it doesn’t include space for all women — women of color, white women, rich women, poor women, trans women, queer women and every other group of women that has ever existed. We all have something to contribute. We all deserve the freedom to do whatever we choose to with our womanhood. It’s time women and men alike, truly allow all of us, at the very least that.

Gabrielle Hickmon is a senior in the College of Industrial and Labor Relations. She can be reached at [email protected]. Gabbing with Gabby appears alternate Wednesdays this semester.