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Give it a rest

Why Piers Morgan's obsession with Emily Ratajkowski is just plain old sexist

“It’s creepy and paternalistic to tell a woman what she can and can’t wear, and it’s cynical to use photos of her to try undermine her feminism.”

LIKE ANY RED-blooded mammal, there’s nothing I enjoy more than a good celebrity feud. Over the last eighteen months or so, however, I have looked on with pity as I have witnessed Piers Morgan try to manufacture a blistering feud with model Emily Ratajkowski.

It all started in March 2016 when Kim Kardashian posted a nude selfie and captioned it, ‘When you’re like I have nothing to wear LOL’. It was a fairly harmless tweet, but it sent commentators like Piers Morgan into a frenzy, who suggested in a column that Kim Kardashian was too old to be posing nude.

Kim’s 35 now, and the mother of two very young children. She still looks fantastic, and of course has every right to post as many naked pictures as she likes. It’s her body, her life.
But it’s hard to escape the creeping suspicion that this new frenzied and frankly rather desperate attempt to ‘break the internet’ is happening because other younger members of her family have been grabbing all the scantily-clad attention recently, notably half-sister 20-year-old Kendall ‘Instagram Queen’ Jenner.

He also tweeted at the reality star and offered to buy her clothes, to which she replied:

Enter Emily Ratajkowski.

Ratajkowski is a model and self-proclaimed feminist. As Morgan and Kardashian bickered, she posted a tweet in which she dismissed Morgan’s criticisms as ‘sexist bullshit’.

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A few weeks later, she teamed up with Kim Kardashian to post another naked selfie in which the pair flipped the bird, a gesture clearly directed towards Morgan and his ilk.

She wrote of the need for women to feel empowered to express their own sexuality however and whenever they want to. In other words, if a woman wants to take a nude selfie, that’s her choice. Not Piers Morgan’s.

Piers Morgan was naturally incensed by the whole thing and used the photo as fuel for a number of attacks on the model. Among other things, he suggested that they ‘try wearing a little dignity’.

Bizarrely, he also posted a photo of Cindy Crawford in a bikini that he deemed to be ‘empowering to women’.

Tweet by @Piers Morgan Piers Morgan / Twitter Piers Morgan / Twitter / Twitter

He soon amped up the personal attacks against Emily Ratajkowski and labeled her a “ludicrous pseudo-feminist”.

He started critiquing what she wore and how she comported herself, expressing approval for modest outfits and disapproval for any photos in which she showed some skin.

In July 2016, Ratajkowski impressively shut Morgan down and accused him of being hungry for press.

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And still, he kept at it.

Which brings us to this week.

Emily Ratajkowski was one of a number of celebrities to take part in this year’s Love Advent Calendar. Her installment featured her writhing around in spaghetti in lingerie.

In an accompanying piece, she wrote:

To me, female sexuality and sexiness, no matter how conditioned it may be by a patriarchal ideal, can be incredibly empowering for a woman if she feels it is empowering to her. The way I dress, act, flirt, dance, have sex – those are my decisions and they shouldn’t be impacted by men. Being sexy is fun and I like it. I should never have to apologize for that.
I’m tired of having to consider how I might be perceived by men if I wear the short skirt or post a sexy Instagram. I want to do what I want to do. Feminism isn’t about adjusting, it’s about freedom and choice.

It’s difficult to argue with anything she wrote there. But trusty Piers found a way!

This week he wrote a column about the debacle, roundly dismissing the notion that “writhing around naked in spaghetti” is empowering.

Ratajkowski never said it was and was broadly discussing her right to express her sexuality however she wants to, but never mind that.

piers Daily Mail Daily Mail

As if all that weren’t enough, he also included her in his year-end round-up of heroes and villains where he referred to her as an “absurd creature” and “dim-witted”.

What Piers Morgan doesn’t seem to realise is that he perfectly encapsulates the point Emily Ratajkowski is trying to make. After all, here’s a 52-year-old man critiquing a 26-year-old for what she wears or doesn’t wear.

If she’s wearing a high neck dress, it’s classy. If she dares to show her boobs, it’s slutty.

It’s creepy and paternalistic to tell a woman what she can and can’t wear, and it’s cynical to use photos of her to try undermine her feminism. Being sexy and being a feminist aren’t mutually exclusive, no matter what Piers Morgan tries to tell you.

Men like him want women to be sexy, but only on their terms. Thee are threatened when a woman has sexual agency and makes it clear that she’s not being sexy for them. They claim to be in favour of gender equality, but are quick to dismiss a woman as “dim-witted” if she gets above her station or dares to challenge patriarchal ideals.

For her part, Emily Ratajkowski has handled the whole thing with grace. Earlier this week, she sent a tweet in which she neatly summarised how Morgan’s obsession with her is just plain old sexist.

After eighteen months, it’s high time that Morgan gave it a rest and realised that what women choose to do with their bodies is nothing to do with him.

As Ratajkowski herself wrote:

I don’t care about your reaction or what you do with my expression of self. In fact, it has nothing to do with you at all and that’s the point-which is why it feels good. Ultimately, if a woman wants to wear a burka or nothing at all, it’s great if it’s what she wants and feels good about.

Hear, hear.

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