Toria Sheffield
September 08, 2017 12:03 pm
J. Kempin/Getty Images / Gary Gershoff/Getty Images

If you follow celebrity news, then you’ve probably already heard about Sharon Osbourne’s recent (and questionable) criticism of Kim Kardashian. For those just catching up, here are the basics:

Kim — who once rather infamously said that she doesn’t call herself a feminist — clarified those comments in the September issue of Harper’s Bazaar Arabia.

She continued, “Modern feminists are all the girls around us today. Every time you look on social media and there’s someone standing up for themselves, to me that’s a modern feminist. There’s such an amazing group of girls that empower each other.”

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Sharon Osbourne then decided to address Kim’s comments in a September 2nd interview with The Telegraph.

After receiving considerable backlash about her comments — and specifically her choice of wording (yes, “ho” is short for “whore,” in case there was any confusion), Osbourne doubled down on her stance in an interview with Entertainment Tonight, saying,

Okay. There’s a lot to unpack here.

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First, it’s important to point out that it’s okay to be confused by all of this. While feminism at its core is simply about equality and equal opportunity for people of all sexes and genders, in practice, there are a wide variety of perspectives and opinions among people who consider themselves feminists. Feminist are people, and people are complex.

And here’s the thing: I’m someone who has thought about these kinds of issues for (literally) countless hours of my life, and even I’m conflicted by everything above. While I in no way condone Sharon Osbourne’s choice of words (because calling a woman who is free with her body a “ho” enforces literal millennia of female-specific sex shaming and promotes extremely regressive attitudes about women and sexuality), I also believe there is a definite trend of women in media allowing themselves to be objectified in the name of feminism. 

As in, sharing super photoshopped and overtly sexual images based on unrealistic standards of beauty that are catered to the male gaze, and all in the name of “empowerment.” In fact, I’ll even admit there is a definite part of me that becomes embittered when I see scantily-clad, photoshopped women telling the world that they are posting nude photos of themselves because of “feminism.”

Like I said, it’s complicated.

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At the end of the day, this is what I do know: There are bound to be disagreements with how each of us approach feminism (because again, feminists are people, and people are complicated), and it’s okay to voice our disagreements with one another in the fight for equality. But it is not okay to use regressive and anti-feminist language when voicing our dissent.

Disagreeing with the way Kim Kardashian practices feminism does not give you the right to call her a whore — especially when you are specifically discussing what she chooses to do with her body.

Doing so only serves to promote slut-shaming, as well as the idea that women who are free with their bodies can’t be feminists — and this couldn’t be further from the truth (in fact, Osbourne, a self-proclaimed feminist, posted her own nude selfie back in 2016). Basically, regardless of what Osbourne was trying to say, the way she said it undermines so much of what feminism is about. And this is why her comments are so problematic.

At the end of the day, we will likely never 100% agree on the “right way” to practice feminism, but tearing each other down — with misogynistic language and attitudes — is 100% not the way to go about it. Ms. Osbourne, if you ever read this, I hope you’ll be more careful with your choice of words the next time around. Because words have power, and people are listening.

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