Is Mean Girl culture holding back feminist advancements?

Words by Tayla Benson

art-awareness-campaign-622135Already, 2018 has quite arguably been the year of the woman. It has brought us feminist social movements #MeToo and Time’s Up, shed more mainstream light on the inequalities and mistreatment of women than ever before, and yet something is still missing. When it comes to the physical appearance and presence of women in particular environments, they are still be restricted although not by men but other women.

Mean Girls is a cult classic, with it holding a prominent place in the ‘chick-flick’ hall of fame since its release and producing iconic scenes re-enacted and quoted well into adulthood, but in the form of 2018 feminism it looks like some women may have taken the wrong message from the film. The moral of the Mean Girls story is that it important to to stay true to yourself and essentially that girls need to start appreciating each other for their differences because by slut shaming each other we’re only giving permission to men to shame us too (Thanks Ms. Norbury). Yet, there are still women using their platforms to shame others for choosing to pose nude and for being symbols of sex and provocation.

How? Sexism is an institutional system and, although we all like to believe we are ‘woke’ enough to form our own opinions, it is a set of beliefs that we as women internalise and apply to ourselves subconsciously. Especially in regard to how we as women should present ourselves to the world if we wish to achieve equality.

This is another debate surrounding feminism that seems to land right into Kim Kardashian’s lap. Year in and year out she is publicly criticised by her peers for her nude selfies, for example 2016 International Women’s Day. This year however, it is not her nude body that got her into trouble but her feminist stance. Alongside her classic Kimoji’s, featuring a cartoon like image of her famous backside, pole dancers, strippers, and naked women, for this year’s IWD Kim released a range of Kimojis that included phrases ‘My Body My Choice’ censoring a curvaceous silhouette and ‘nasty woman’, with the W resembling a pair of breasts. Many accused the reality start of simply capitalising on the feminist movement, arguing that it contradicted her provocative and sexualised products, as well as the way she presents herself.

However, who said you cannot be nude and want to have equal rights? Want equal pay, believe that women can achieve all that men can? Surely there is nothing wrong with choosing to be a sexual being and sexualising oneself as long as it is fully consensual?

 The idea that nudity and women as sexual beings do not belong in feminism is a very aged perspective of feminism reflecting the ideals of second wave feminism. A time where it was thought that a woman could not be sexual as well as serious, that if she was to use her body to achieve then she was against the feminist movement. We are now in a time of post feminism, women can be who they want to be whilst fighting for their rights, clothes off or on. By policing the amount of clothing women wear, are women not just fuelling the fire against themselves? By telling each other how to dress and present ourselves, we are restricting feminism. The social movement cannot fully move forward until women can feel comfortable wearing as little or as much as they want without fearing disapproval from a movement that is meant to be for them.

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