Recently Mia Freedman wrote this blog railing against Kim Kardashian. While I by no means hold Kim up as a demonstration of feminism I think that Mia Freedman has this wrong, very wrong. From the title ‘Are you a mother or a porn star?’ which degrades the ability of women who work in the porn industry to be effective parents, Freedman projects some extremely backward views on motherhood, sexuality and body image.
The core assumption that Freedman makes in this blog is that women must fit into a mould of personality and behaviour to be effective parents. Freedman’s condemning of this photo taken by Kardashian refuses to take into account the person that Kardashian was before becoming a mother. I have zero no doubt that Kardashian would have taken the same selfie to promote herself and her brand before becoming a parent. Through the promotion of her personal brand Kim is now worth $40 million dollars and her reality television show is gaining her $80 000 per episode. This business model of self-promotion including sexuality has been Kardashian’s core business since she was a teenager.
While Kardashian’s business model does nothing for feminism nor is it responsible for women’s oppression or the over sexualisation of women. In a bizarre and far-reaching leap Freedman attempts to link Kim’s selfie to the overly sexualised make over of an animated children’s character. What Kardashian was not doing was giving a beloved children’s character a sexualised make over. She was a woman who as presenting herself in a sexual fashion that is all. In fact the only link that Kardashian has to children is the fact that she is herself a mother.
Freedman’s insistence that somehow motherhood should change the way that Kardashian presents herself sends a powerful message to mothers like myself. The message that it sends says not only will your behaviour be policed as a woman but it will also be policed as a mother. As a mother you are responsible not only for they way that you present yourself but that you ‘owe’ others with your physical appearance. As a mother in my bikini I am not responsible for The Little Mermaid.
Scratching the issue further Freedman says that Kardashian should ‘do better’ for her daughter. For most of us the cult of motherhood dictates that we should be kind, lovely and beautiful but asexual. The idea of our own mothers having and owning sexuality especially aggressive sexuality is ‘revolting’. Why should Kardashian’s sexuality change after children? It shouldn’t and it certainly shouldn’t because Mia Freedman says so.
To make this condemnation of Kardashian even more bizarre Freedman’s ‘mamamia’ blog published a defence of another mothers photo. This photo and the text placed on it send a very different message to mothers about body image and motherhood.
Had the picture remain on its own, well it would have been a picture of Maria Kang, physically fit mother of three, but it didn’t the text “What’s your excuse?” challenges the reader. It challenges me as a mother of two to look at my body and ‘make excuses’ for not having a similar body. I don’t need excuses for not having Kang’s body, I have my own, every mother has her own. I have my own healthy beautiful body that looks nothing like Maria Kang’s. The image tells us nothing about Maria’s health only that she lives up to a body image that ‘fitsperation’ deems as beautiful.
The image was not particularly shock, even if it is in its own way offensive, but the response published on Freedman’s mamamia was down right horrible. Di Westaway, the CEO of Wild Women On Top – Trek Training For Adventure, writes the response and it takes us to a place that blames women’s lack of exercise for PND. Westerway’s anecdote about a friend who ‘cured’ herself of depression by walking is just ridiculous. What we know is that for some people exercise can relieve stress. This is great but exercise does not cure depression. We know that exercise can provide a pleasurable activity for some one who is depressed. This is also great but again I state EXERCISE DOES NOT CURE DEPRESSION and anecdotes do not make science. For most people with post natal depression the illness will eventually pass but this does not mean it is ‘cured’ by an activity that a person is doing the most of at the time. In fact for some women engaging in excessive exercise can be a symptom of depression. A quick call to people like ‘beyond blue’ by either Freedman or Westaway could have confirmed this.
The thing I do agree with Freedman on is that, “Kim is the canary down the mineshaft. Kim is simply a magnified reflection of society.” What Freedman’s feminism is telling me is that as a mother a sexualised body is not acceptable. However the presentation of Kang’s body as something to aspire to is never questioned. In fact it is further held up as desirable as Freedman allows Westaway to link not only the physical health that is implied by the picture but also mental health. Kang’s image of herself as a mother as well as a ‘beautiful body’ is ok but Kardashian’s image of herself as a mother as well as sexual is offensive.
In truth Freedman’s motherhood concept is just as restrictive and twisted as any other artificial as any other. So to Mia Freedman I give you a picture of this mothers arse.