Pop Culture

Kim Kardashian’s Butt And The Maddening Double Standard Of Policing Women’s Bodies On Social Media

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[This post contains photos that are NSFW, including pictures of childbirth, naked breasts and butts.]

Last week, after the world collapsed at the sight of Kim Kardashian‘s ass on the cover of Paper Magazine, actress Alyssa Milano posed a question to her Twitter feed. “Wait! I don’t get it. No disrespect to Kim but… people are offended by my breastfeeding selfies & are fine with her (amazing) booty cover?”

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This isn’t entirely true – lots of people were, um, worked up over Kim’s cover. But Milano raises a point about existing as a partially covered woman on social media: either you’re held up or torn down, and most often it’s the photos not curated by the male gaze that are not just bashed, but removed from various social media sites.

Facebook has been notorious for pulling photos of moms like Milano (but without the celebrity) breastfeeding their babies. In October they yanked down a picture of British mom Emma Bond breastfeeding her premature baby, after a user reported it as offensive. Again just last week the site banned Milli Hill, founder of Birth Positive, for seven days, for posting a photo of the backside of a woman, pushing out a baby in a birth pool. Later, she reposted the photo next to Kardashian’s cover and asked: “How come some bums are ok and some bums are not. I’m confused Facebook?”

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Hill has been banned from Facebook twice previously, for posting photos of childbirth that “violated community standards.” In an op-ed in The Guardian, Hill said this about the decision and its broader implications: “You could argue that this is simply about nudity, but I think there’s more to it. Social media reflects our wider culture’s issue, not with naked women, but with naked women who look real and active as opposed to air-brushed and passive. It also reflects millennia of attempts to suppress women’s power, of which childbirth is perhaps the ultimate expression.”

Meanwhile Chelsea Handler is currently locked in a battle with Instagram over nude photos, after the site took down a pic she posted riding a horse topless, a la Vladamir Putin. The photo was quickly removed because it didn’t “follow community guidelines.”

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“If a man posts a photo of his nipples, it’s ok, but not a woman? Are we in 1825?” asked Handler on Instagram. She reposted the image on Twitter, stating: “Taking this down is sexist. I have every right to show I have a better body than Putin.”

Handler too, reacted to the photoshopped Kardashian cover, this time by posting it next to her own ass photo. “Can you believe more than 2 ass can fit on the same screen?” She wrote in the caption. “Guess which one’s real. Your move, instagram.”

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