April in Glenwood: Emphasizing the power in empowerment | PostIndependent.com

April in Glenwood: Emphasizing the power in empowerment

Whenever I hear the term “Twitter war” I want to walk into a wall.

This is mostly based on the idea that I hate walking into walls, which I have done more recently. Being painfully sleep deprived post-baby can do that. I also dislike the concept that one can truly declare “war” against someone in 140 characters or less. Twitter wars are usually waged between celebrities, or maybe it’s the paparazzi-style media that start them, which baffles me.

Maybe glorifying famous people is one reason we can’t get anything done anymore.

Take this week’s latest twit-fueled battle that ironically started on International Women’s Day. That’s supposed to be a time reserved for women to come together for parity’s sake. The goal of the day is to encourage women and girls to achieve ambitions, challenge bias, call for gender-balanced leadership, value women and men’s contributions equally and, create inclusive, flexible cultures, specifically in the workplace.

As a new mom, that last one is especially close to my heart.

Instead of coming together to build each other up, women are up at arms with one other after Kim Kardashian attempted to break the Internet, again. Not surprisingly, her bare-it-all, post-pregnancy nude selfie sparked a tirade of criticism on social media. The commentary came all the way from well-respected female artists in Hollywood to everyday social media trolls with an opinion on everything, usually shared to start fights.

I guess the actual term nowadays is war.

Bette Midler, Pink, and Chloe Grace Moretz are a few of the famous names that made sure to remind Kim K, and others that post nudes selfies of themselves online, that women should be recognized for their minds.

Not their bodies.

Kim quickly fired back with some Kanye-esque bragging about making millions of dollars and something about fake friends. Then she followed the next day with a more sincere and thought-out explanation of how posting nude selfies makes her feel empowered. Basically, the empowerment package can come in all shapes and sizes, and she owns hers like a Maserati.

I’m only guessing she has one, because I would if I had her success.

As a self-described liberated woman, I have mixed feelings about the whole nude selfie thing. Sure, I think females, especially young girls, should be sharing messages of positivity on the Internet that show we are here on Earth to make more just than babies. Of course I see nothing wrong with making babies, considering I’ve spent the last year experiencing pregnancy, childbirth and a postpartum experience I plan to never experience again in my lifetime.

It was all worth it, though.

I’m a huge proponent for women’s rights for everything from equal pay in the workplace to health issues for which some male lawmakers have taken it upon themselves to deprive us of care. I get pretty fired up at the idea that it wasn’t even until Congress passed the 19th Amendment to the Constitution on June 4, 1919 (ratified on Aug. 18, 1920) that women were guaranteed the right to vote. That means my great-great-grandmothers never had a voice as to who should run the country. Luckily that had changed by the time my two maternal great-grandmothers, Mildred and Ruth, were coming of age. I hope they were among the first in line to cast their votes.

I regret never asking them about that progressive time in our country.

I also believe that as women we should have the freedoms of expression and speech once reserved for our male counterparts. It’s hard for me to be as judgmental as to say a woman shouldn’t post a nude selfie of herself, if that’s what empowers her, when I was one of the original members of Carbondale’s first burlesque troupe in 2011. We were thrown our share of shade, including a letter to the editor — from another women, discouragingly — who said we lacked a sense of decency. That our show was “repulsive” and “a poor display of bad taste.”

I say tomato, you say tomato.

Luckily we didn’t call the whole thing off. We were actually inspired to keep making our art, whether it was considered repulsive or not. In our minds, this form of ironic entertainment, as it has been called, using kitschy humor, risqué innuendos, and playful satire was our own vehicle of empowerment. Carbondale laws prohibit nudity, so of course no one could go full frontal like Kim K has done on social media. But we did don some fairly revealing costumes and curve-enhancing corsets. Most of all, we pushed boundaries. And that is what female empowerment is all about, to surpass our limits, whether through mind, body or spirit.

Sometimes we need one, or all three, to help us make a point.

April E. Clark may or may not be watching Bette Midler in “Beaches” this weekend. She can be reached at aprilelizabethclark@gmail.com.

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