By Jefferey Spivey
Would people care as much if a man pulled a Kim K? You know what a Kim K is. It’s that publicity stunt where you pose completely naked in a self-initiated Instagram selfie or on the cover of a nationally distributed magazine for seemingly no reason at all other than to stay relevant. It’s a dubious move that essentially treats the real world like one big Snapchat universe; a universe in which we work ourselves up into a frenzy sharing the original pic, the staged reaction pics, the witty celebrity quips (hello Bette Midler!), and the think pieces. Even other celebrities are at war with each other over the right to bare bodies in the public Internet space. From this one earth-rattling nude phenomenon, Mrs. West has been called everything under the sun from a whore to an anti-feminist to a champion for slut-shamed women everywhere. It’s astounding to me that our prudish society still gets so bent out of shape when someone goes nude on IG. And it makes me wonder if the reaction would be the same if a really famous male celebrity did the same thing.
Well, male celebrities have done the same thing. Sort of.
Remember last summer when Justin Bieber showcased his bare cheeks during his vacation on whatever island famous people vacation on? Or when Chrissy Teigen momentarily lived the creep life and snuck a candid of bare-assed hubby John Legend onto her IG feed? Or the numerous times that The Game has resurrected Egglant Tuesday by shamelessly showing his erect dickprint all over social media? For the most part, all of this male nudity has been a non-event. Anti-climactic. Even quite fun to participate in.
But what’s the difference? Why’s it okay for men to come out swinging (hehe) but women have to stay covered up?
For starters, men are held to different, lower standards but shouldn’t be. We’re forgiven for our public indiscretions the same way a parent forgives a toddler when he pulls his pants off during playtime at a neighbors’ house. Boys will be boys, right? Wrong. Celebrities, men and women alike, know exactly what they’re doing when they reveal their naughty bits to the world. Maintaining relevancy isn’t as hard as it once was. Instead of scrambling to make the promotional rounds in advance of releasing new work, you can just show off the goods on Instagram and make headlines. As the celebrity-worshipping public, we should be smart enough to avoid these epic thirst traps. But we get sucked back in every time to our detriment. And we continue to give the dudes a free pass while women like Kim K get raked over the coals.
Men are fetishized and celebrated in the nude. When Bieber unleashed his bum, the media made it feel like free access to a private peep show. It Finally Happened: Justin Bieber’s Booty Is On Instagram! NSFW! Justin Bieber Bares His Butt On Instagram. The headline writers of the Interwebz revealed themselves as giggling pre-teen girls. Like they accidentally caught a glimpse of that cute guy from third period in the shower. Women deserve the same opportunity, but the headlines don’t paint the same picture. Kim Kardashian Posts Another Nude Selfie On Instagram. These headline writers sound hesitant. Bored even. Fatigued. They’re afraid to get excited about nude Kim K because societal discourse tells them not to. Celebrate and excuse the naked man. Shame the naked woman. I don’t agree with this at all.
We want to have our metaphorical #cake and eat it too.
Either everyone has the right to be naked or everyone needs to be clothed. But the right to show off the goods shouldn’t be conditional. There are tons of nobodies in the world, light years away from even making the Z-list, that post incredibly revealing photos on social media and have dedicated legions of followers for doing so. Getting naked on IG is a popular American pastime. Like baseball. And weekend Trump rallies. All of us have the right to participate or sit on the sidelines. But we can’t get all wishy washy on the issue granting hall passes for some and expelling others from social media school.
In the grand scheme of things, this issue shouldn’t even matter enough for me to bust out close to 800 words on the topic. But since it does matter, let me leave you with this. We can’t apply 1950s values to 2016 communication. Allowing The Game to get away with his eggplant shots is just as detrimental to men’s perceived intelligence as shaming Kim K is to women’s body acceptance. Body confidence is body confidence. And a cheap ploy for attention is a cheap ploy for attention. Agree with it or not, they all have the right to exist. And we all have a responsibility to pick a side of the issue and stick to it. For men and women alike.