A new wave of feminism, in case you missed it, is gloriously sweeping the globe and dominating discussion, from social media posts to political pub debates.
Feminism is accessible. It’s sexy. There are feminist memes. All men and women who value equality want a slice of the pie, and perhaps there is no person who better represents the modern feminist – as well as the conflicts and complexities modern feminism evokes – than Emily Ratajkowski.
Emily Ratajkowski shot to super-stardom when she appeared in the video for Robin Thicke’s infamous Blurred Lines, a song whose misguided and disturbing lyrics, as the title suggested, offered listeners a grey area in sexual consent.
Despite questionable beginnings, in subsequent years, Emily Ratajkowski has proved herself to be a stalwart of 21st century feminism and liberal political thinking, unapologetically upholding her beliefs.
However, her empowering attitudes go unnoticed by the alarmingly wide section of society who become irate whenever the 25-year-old model, actress and former fine art student at UCLA posts a naked picture on Instagram.
In irony that is lost on no one, online observers and keyboard warriors troll Emily for exercising her right to do what she wants with her body – a human right staunchly defended by feminism – because she simultaneously identifies as a feminist.
The trolls, who apparently misunderstand the simplicity of feminism (or, in other words, gender equality), seem to believe Emily is a bad role model to young womenbecause she is happy to express every facet of herself as a woman – including the body she walks in, which sometimes, happens to be naked.
Unfortunately, it’s not just trolls who vilify Emily for expressing her sexuality in both the artfully-shot fashion editorials she is contractually obliged to pose for and the selfies with which she bolsters her brand as a platform for activism.
Nope. Even antagonistic journalists such as Piers Morgan target Emily with their misogyny masquerading as so-called righteous deliverance from the empowerment of a young woman, thus insulting the very idea of feminism they claim to champion by telling Emily to put her clothes back on.
But feminism is so much more than a buzzword and people who identify as a feminist are not obliged to fulfil the stereotypes attached.
Yet so many continue to deliberate how Emily uses her body rather than how she uses her mind, ignoring the fact that empowerment, by its very definition, puts control in the hands of each and every individual to do what they please.
Emily has been outspoken in her defence of women’s rights, Planned Parenthood and the Free The Nipple campaign.
While some incorrectly see the campaign as feminine exhibitionism, in fact, the message runs much deeper than that, to the very source of life itself: The much maligned female body, which is still sexualised and censored to the point of perpetuating the idea that women should be ashamed of their anatomies .
Societal strictures have managed, over the years during which sexism dominated, to box women into categories that are painfully narrow, two-dimensional and blinkered.
So much so, certain people still cannot reconcile the fact that a woman can be – as Naomi Wolf wrote – ‘sexual and serious’, demure and yet equally discontented to play second string to the men around her.
Why is it still so difficult to fathom the complexities of a woman, and moreover a feminist, who can hold societal aspirations of success and still like lipstick, or be proud of her body?
As Roxane Gay asserted, there is no such thing as a Bad Feminist and feminism is simply about redressing – pun intended – the global imbalance between men and women.
So, of course, as with all social balancing acts comes a certain sensitivity from those who have enjoyed superiority, and some folk are threatened by feminism’s rise into the mainstream consciousness.
With mainstream appeal come public figures who want to champion women’s rights to equality, education, equal pay, abortive freedom, and an end to systematic violence. Those public figures are almost invariably divisive.
The only solution is to never, ever judge a person – just as you wouldn’t with a book – by their cover. Or lack of inclination to cover up, for that matter.
It’s what’s underneath your skin, not how much skin you happen to be showing, that counts and you can be a feminist whether you’re clothed or not.