Weapons Used Against Women
Updated: Jul 27, 2019
Four days ago Rob Kardashian shared lewd pictures of his ex-fiancée Blac Chyna to his 9 million followers on social media . He also claimed to have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars paying for her plastic surgery, implying that she was being dishonest with the public about her weight loss journey after having their daughter.
Last week President Trump used his social media, with over 30 million followers, to denigrate and insult Mika Bryzinscki, a female co-host of a political show in the US. He stated that he was disgusted to meet her as she was "bleeding from a facelift".
1. What is so embarrassing about plastic surgery?
In 2016, 17 million people had a cosmetic procedure in the US, as per the American Society of Plastic Surgeons annual report. The figures keep rising year- on-year, and the bulk of these procedures are actually minimally invasive treatments such as Botox or dermal fillers. The industry generated $16 billion in 2016 alone. Despite it being a commonplace occurrence in modern society, plastic surgery remains taboo.
I would argue that if you have ever had your hair dyed or your ears pierced that you should refrain from bashing the cosmetic industry. Throughout mankind' s history we have sought to augment our bodies in the name of beauty and the extent to which an individual does that should be up to them. For many people cosmetic surgery is a form of artistic expression and for those in the transgender community it is form of gender expression. Many people who have a cosmetic procedure do not have major self esteem issues or body insecurities, though the vast majority of people report an increase in confidence and all-round happiness. To insinuate that a person who has had plastic surgery should be ashamed is a form of bullying and body policing. I thought we were over that in 2017!
2. Why should a woman's body be used to damage her?
In May of this year, Chris Spagnuolo, a sports blogger, published an article berating Rihanna for weight gain. He stated "is Rihanna going to make fat the new trend?" He likened the Bajan beauty to the Hindenburg and stated that her image made him want to vomit. An attempt was made to humiliate Rihanna based on her weight: classic fat shaming.
Whilst both men and women are affected by fat shaming, women face significantly more attacks due to their weight, especially in the media. Body and fat shaming is one of the most problematic growing forms of hate on the internet, with strong links to young people developing eating disorders. The anonymity of social media allows the worst kind of abuse to be posted under pictures of individuals, aiming to destroy their self-esteem without any repercussions for the abuser.
It smacks of hypocrisy that Rob Kardashian, who has faced his own barage of insults due to his weight gain, would seek to embarrass his ex-fiancée as she sought to address her own weight.
3. Why do men feel that a woman's body is their possession?
The juxtaposition of the claim that Rob Kardashian paid for Blac Chyna's plastic surgery alongside her rumoured infidelity implies that because he paid for changes to her body, he now owns it. That's a dangerous idea.
Mr. Kardashian sought to socially humiliate and punish the mother of his daughter because of her sexuality. He implied that her sexuality made her a slut and because of this she was an unfit mother. In the era of social media, slut shaming has morphed into revenge porn, the publishing of sexually explicit content without a person's consent. Revenge porn is about dominance and control. Often published at the end of a relationship, the perpetrator seeks to exert power over their partner's reputation and social standing.
Rob Kardashian's revenge porn, Donald Trump's plastic surgery jibe, and Chris Spragnuolo's fat shaming have one thing in common: the use of a woman's own body as a weapon against her. Women like Amber Rose, an ex-stripper and now model and businesswoman wants to take back the narrative. She founded the Amber Rose Slutwalk, an LA-based street festival to honour all women that have been judged and demeaned for their sexual behaviour. Her not-for-profit organisation, The Amber Rose Foundation aims to promote discussion about women’s rights and equality issues. The foundation is specifically geared towards women and art empowerment and fighting against victim blaming. She has decided to take back her body and so should we.
To find out more about the effects of slut shamming check out this TEDx lecture given by Monica Lewinsky, the first case of slut shaming in the internet age.
To find out about effects of revenge porn, check out this TEDx talk.
To find out more about Amber Rose's Slutwalk and the move to take back control of the female body check out this link.
To find out why some women choose to keep their cosmetic surgery a secret, have a look at our blog post Don't Tell My Husband! Should people keep their cosmetic surgery a secret?