I regret to inform you that Aussie royalty Celeste Barber has come under fire for a post that reeks of internalised misogyny, which sucks considering normally we’re pretty big fans of the comedian’s work.
Celeste, who you might know from her viral fundraiser for the 2020 summer bushfires, usually satirises unrealistic beauty expectations for women by recreating them in less glamorous, far more realistic settings. It’s funny, it’s relatable, and all of us can feel better about having bodies that aren’t perfectly sculpted for the patriarchy’s consumption.
Most importantly though, Celeste usually does all that without targeting individual women or blaming them for the patriarchy commodifying our bodies.
Except, that’s not quite true anymore, because one of Celeste’s recent posts misses the mark completely, instead turning her criticism towards an individual rather than society at large. And it’s definitely a product of internalised misogyny.
Posting to her social media pages, Celeste Barber uploaded a video of US model Emily Ratajkowski posing in a thong, recreating it with her usual unhinged flair. The video itself is funny, and fine in terms of what Celeste is trying to do.
The caption though, is not.
“We are so sick of you objectifying our bodies! Also, here’s my ass”, the post reads. Whew, there’s a lot to unpack here.
My gut reaction to this post was immediate cringe, because of how it seems to blame women for men/society at large objectifying them.
Your usual recipe is highlighting the absurdities of glamour culture in terms of how it relates to the average woman, as depicted by you. So the target is society but also yourself for “not measuring up”. This is different because the target is mainly the model. Feels unkind.
— Briony Kidd ???????? (@BrionyKidd) November 2, 2021
By depicting women showing skin as something incompatible with complaining about fetishising and objectification, as if that is hypocritical, the post essentially implies that if you dress sexy and get objectified, it’s your fault and you’re asking for it.
Which obviously is not okay because of the victim-blaming nature that comes with words like that, but also because of how it denies women the right to sexuality. Women can be sexual if they want to, and they can do it for themselves, and that doesn’t necessarily mean they want to or deserve to be objectified by others.
This ain’t it, Celeste. Please don’t punch down on SWers.
— until they/jay i die… (@DeathmatchJay) November 1, 2021
The post is in even poorer taste given the context — Emily Ratajkowski recently wrote about allegedly being sexually assaulted by Robin Thicke, who she claims groped her on the music video set for ‘Blurred Lines’.
A brilliant profile by The New York Times highlights Emily’s conflicted sense of self, the way she grapples with constantly being reduced to her body, and her journey in understanding her own role in misogyny and objectification.
It’s almost funny that out of all the women Celeste Barber could have chosen to make this joke about, she made it about someone who is actively unlearning their sexual and political biases.
Victim-blaming women for being objectified is already gross. Doing so to a woman who is currently in the public eye for having her sexuality weaponised against her is worse.
And you know what, I get it. People like Emily, who exist as seemingly made for the male gaze, who make the rest of us ‘normal’ looking women feel insecure, are fun to poke at.
Normally, I really don’t care about discussions regarding skinny, conventionally attractive women and their part in upholding toxic beauty standards. But that is an entirely different conversation to the one taking place here, which is actually tearing down a woman for behaviour that isn’t ‘bad’, and that she personally has suffered from.
But Celeste, showing your body doesn’t mean people should reduce you to an object babes.
— k (@_gemini_feed) November 2, 2021
It’s easy to fall into the clutches of internalised misogyny, and I personally do it all the time. We’re constantly unlearning urges to pit ourselves against one another, because historically that has been the only way certain women have gotten ahead.
I’m sympathetic to that, and I don’t think this warrants a cancellation, but I do think it’s really important to pull up problematic behaviour like this when we see it — and to be accountable when we ourselves are pulled up.
Celeste Barber’s post is still up despite the backlash, and she hasn’t released a statement or an apology.
PEDESTRIAN.TV has contacted Celeste Barber for comment.