Kim Kardashian's butt - in hindsight

Kim Kardashian's nude photo shoot does little for women except have Twitter explode over how we should be behaving and why. (Reuters)

Kim Kardashian's nude photo shoot does little for women except have Twitter explode over how we should be behaving and why. (Reuters)

If Kim Kardashian’s ass could speak, I bet it would say only one thing: “Yay, I trended”. But (pun intended), is that nearly enough?

Even if it did break the internet, (which it didn’t by the way as I have just tried to use said internet, and aside from my usual slow connection and Kim’s bum being slightly pixelated, it seems fine), it serves absolutely no purpose in the way of constructive conversation. 

It offers us no insight into why she did it, what the purpose was. It implies no conversation about women’s body image, sexuality or feminism. There is no message, other than the rather empty intended one – here’s my arse on a magazine, go react, make me (more) popular. Why is Kim doing what she’s doing? What is she thinking? What meaningful intent does a cover such as this serve?

More than that, should there be one? Let’s be blatantly clear about this, the issue here is not that we have a nude woman on the cover of a magazine, the issue is that we have a woman who is able to be nude on the cover of a magazine (for the umpteenth time no less), and who is refusing to own that for the right reasons other than to spark – yet again – empty trendy Twitter conversations, which either defend or degrade her. 

Will pop-culture icons (and I use this term loosely) ever serve a purpose again other than to measure up to viral hashtag for viral hashtag’s sake? The internet is literally glazed over by the empty image of Kim’s behind, which provokes for provocation’s sake. Even Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda video gave us more to talk about in the way of female sexuality, controversy and so forth … and prompted Nicki to deliver several comments by way of explanation and discussion.

Don’t get me wrong, no woman should have to explain their actions, any more than men do, but in recent times pop culture has experienced a serious lack of depth. 

No real growth, no real need for engagement – no … art? There is nothing new about Kim Kardashian’s butt, especially because she is not willing to say there is. We have seen it before. This from the woman who gave us the #belfie (that’s a butt selfie for those of you who don’t know) and a sex tape. 

I am not concerned with how deserving or undeserving Kim’s fame is. I am concerned with what she does with it. I don’t care if she’s a mother and a this and a that, and who she’s married to, and how a woman in all these roles “should” or “should not” behave.

I care that a famous woman has had countless opportunities to create meaningful discourse and break down barriers by posing nude on yet another magazine cover – and has not yet managed to do so. Is the mere fact that she has just let it all hang loose enough? Is being “cheeky” for the sake of cheekiness enough? 

Maybe it’s because she feels she doesn’t have to? Perhaps the Tina Fey’s, Janelle Monaé’s, Madonna’s, Beyoncé’s and even Miley Cyrus’s of this world have done enough for the intellectual causes of women in pop culture? They offer enough substance, or just enough lack of substance to spark substance anyway, and so she does not have to? Maybe Kim’s scripted world left out the part where women get to, and should, provoke for the sake of a greater good? 

Not because their behaviour needs explaining, but because they can. 

They can change the way people think about things like body image, for example; they can influence the current status quo of what’s accepted and what’s not accepted; they can direct the course of those conversations instead of having them dictated – in this case on Twitter mostly. 

Here’s what I know about Kim Kardashian after reading the Paper magazine article: she likes apps, she’s not fond of Instagram filters although she is fond of Instagram, she admits to her fame being a construction of the age of social media (although not in so many words), and she enjoys the thrill of popularity for popularity’s sake.

It smacks of Kim’s arse, for Kim’s arse’s sake – and does little for women except have Twitter explode over how we should be behaving and why. Or what we should look like, or under what circumstances it’s okay to have nude photos taken (in case you’re wondering, the only conditions under which this is acceptable is if you’re Kim Kardashian, if you have a butt like hers and if you’ve got a lot money… What?). 

Maybe Kim just lives in a post-feminist world. Where intent and meaning are unnecessary things to think about. Where barriers don’t exist when it comes to the plight of women’s sexuality and owning it without exploitation. Maybe she’s at the forefront of all that and I am just the one being left behind (pun not intended)?

Haji Mohamed Dawjee

Haji Mohamed Dawjee

Haji Mohamed Dawjee is the social media accounts director at Ogilvy PR. She was previously the deputy digital news editor and social media editor at the Mail & Guardian. Haji has an honours degree in journalism from the University of Stellenbosch and continues to write columns for the M&G. Read more from Haji Mohamed Dawjee


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