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Kim Kardashian and Elena Ferrante: the problem with public privacy


In the past few days the question of privacy and how much we should and should not share about ourselves on- and offline has been brought to the forefront. For two very different reasons Kim Kardashian and Elena Ferrante have been in the news. One for sharing too much and therefore causing a violent robbery and attack on her person and belongings. The other, for not sharing enough information and therefore causing a careless and violent disrespect for her right to privacy and anonymity. In other words, no matter what you do, if you are a deemed a ‘celebrity’ your life is open slather for all and sundry to comment on, judge, and invade.

The world of celebrity is a complicated space. To be a celebrity is to be deemed worthy enough for public adoration. Celebrities need the public and their fan bases, just as much as the fan base wants their celebrities. Without each other, the fantasy world of celebrity would crumble. Terminology like ‘celebrity branding’ and ‘selling yourself’ are commonly used and understood, even outside of the celebrity world. This form of marketing yourself is the true embodiment of capitalism. So, if people in the public eye know that their life will never truly be theirs again, why are they so angry when people violate their privacy? Do celebrities even have privacy?

Celebrities are often dehumanised and their rights to privacy, anonymity, safety, and freedom are compromised because of it. Both Kim Kardashian and Elena Ferrante where objects to be exposed, discovered, and used. I have read more articles condemning Kim K. for her outlandish social media presence, and the phrase “She was asking for it” rings all too true about many things relating to women… However, contrary to popular belief, celebrities, whether you love them or hate them, are humans who deserve basic respect and privacy. The challenge we face as a society requires us to reinvent the celebrity and stop seeing them as a commodity, dehumanised and ready for consumption, but rather as a human being (and in this case, as women) who deserve respect.

Female celebrities can’t seem to win when it comes to being too public or too private. The reactions and the treatment of Ferrante and Kardashian further solidify my thoughts that society at large thinks women are objects for consumption. We are either whores or virgins and nothing in between. I believe we not only have a problem with the way we treat celebrities, but also with the way we treat women.

I urge anyone reading this who hasn’t heard of the Ferrante news, to not go searching for her ‘true’ identity. Give her privacy and peace. And for those who are quick to condemn Kardashian for exposing too much, ask yourself: would you expect these standards of a man? And why do you think it is okay for female celebrities to be treated with so little respect?

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