On Tuesday, Kourtney Kardashian's 25-year-old boyfriend Younes Bendjima, who a Cosmopolitan article tells me is a model and a boxer with a $500,000 net worth, commented: “What you need to show to get likes?” under a photo Kourt uploaded to Instagram of her basking in the shade, Glossier-style fresh-faced (though we know she's more expensive than that), donning a floppy, summer hat and a floral thong bikini. She captioned the photo "don’t be shady, be a lady," so it's a bit ironic seeing as The Shade Room was the first to report Bendjima’s posting and deleting his shady slut-shaming criticism of his older, wiser girlfriend who should frankly be able to post whatever the fuck she wants.
After Bendjima was called out for slut-shaming, a source allegedly told E! News, "Kourtney doesn't appreciate Younes posting his feelings in a public forum and being impulsive." adding that she's "frustrated" he continues to act like this because she's going to continue posting sexy content regardless. The source claimed, "Younes gets jealous and can be possessive of Kourtney." She source alluded to this having not been a one-time thing, so I'll remind y'all—the couple have been together nearly two years. This should have been an adult conversation with an adult fix to the situation long ago.
Then the gaslighting slithered in, as the male model has seemingly embraced the classic "it was just a joke!" position as soon as he was called out. Today a separate source (who are all these sources?) told Us Weekly that Bendijma was simply "trying to make a joke, and it wasn’t perceived well on Instagram." The source proceeded, "He doesn’t realize that making a joke could be perceived as something totally different or negative," which is... plausibly a lie.
As someone who's endured slut-shaming to near-viral degrees, virtually none of this flies with me. Women—especially sex-workers—and members of the LGBT community experience near-humiliating harassment on behalf of their own partners on social media, or off of social media in private.
Since I began dating around age 14, men have policed both my appearance and my social media presence. Having breasts, I guess, renders you innately sexual. In high school, boyfriends suggested I crop my photos higher above my chest, lest I show the meagerest amount of cleavage, or delete pictures completely. The ongoing requests to police content even my parents were okay with was always passive-aggressive—or straight-up aggressive, with the intent being to guilt me—and typically escalated into a fight. Boyfriends have consistently accused me of desperately seeking attention or even designated an "attention whore," a very popular Myspace-era accusation, by people I was dating. In a particularly abusive relationship, I was made to delete my social media multiple times and not even converse with other men.
Now that I'm an adult woman, I face the same type of criticism from random men web-wide and still, in subtle ways, from partners—primarily when it comes down to my former stripping gig. A recent ex-boyfriend deemed sex work as "not work" before I told him I'd been a stripper during grad school (by the way, it is work). Another ex said to me if I wanted to strip again, he wouldn't be supportive. And I've had exes in the past tell me if I decided to return to dancing, we'd flat-out be over. And I've had men sprint out the door at the slightest mention of my ever having dabbled in the trade. Their loss.
But it's not even sex work my partners have been insecure about; it's also the jokes on my Twitter and the photos I post of myself on both Twitter and Instagram. It feels obvious that if I tweet about how I rented A Goofy Movie and there are 71 hours left till it expires because I forgot the movie is literally, like, 45-minutes long, I'm not really looking for a hookup. I'm not trying to suck a stranger's dick when I tweet something like "alright whose dick are we sucking to a Drake song we’ll be pretending we already listened to tonight." They're jokes; it's my humor, I make people laugh with my Twitter account, and if men can't deal with that then, bye! And I certainly don't need anybody in my life who cares about the suggestive photos I post—I need someone who pumps me up and makes me feel as confident and positive about myself, my body and my sexuality as I do when I'm taking the images.
If a partner comments negatively on a photo—which implies explicit intent to shame you publicly whether they delete it or not—that you took because you felt superb about your body and know you look on point, they're the problem, not you. And if they bring up that they're upset with your sexy content even after you've explained you're posting it for you and you alone, and they still make slut-shamey comments, they're just toxic. And if for any reason a man tells you that you shouldn't feel good about your body, or uses derogatory terms to project his own insecurities onto you, dump him right then and there. And if he says "it was a joke! I was only kidding!" because he got caught being misogynistic (common), honestly just kill him—the world will be better off.
While being as inclusive as possible, I can assure you I can't accurately empathize with über straight men posting hyper-masculine shirtless pics of themselves flexing their muscles, thus furthering the toxicity behind "what's regarded as manly" in 2018. As Younes so poignantly revealed for us, many of these men are purely insecure and responsible for turning on women's sexuality like we don't all have nipples on our respective chests.
Finally, the straight men I've encountered seem to be under the impression that I dress and act provocatively for male attention or enjoy the male gaze—which is uniquely misleading. My style, makeup and yes, even my fit pics, have always been first, for myself, and second, to try to impress but also connect and befriend other women. The men I date can't tell if I'm wearing makeup or not, don't give a fuck if I wear jeans, sweatpants or walk around naked, have no clue if I washed my hair (or even face) this morning or a week ago, and certainly would never ask me where I got the vintage Jean Paul Gaultier cardigan I'm wearing right now.
Men, I think I speak for most (even mildly) confident women when I say, we're not trying to impress you! We're here for everybody but you.