Emily Ratajkowski says society stops women from feeling like they can be sexy and smart

By Julie Mazziotta
Updated September 06, 2016 01:10 PM
Credit: Carter Smith

Emily Ratajkowski is tired of hearing that women need to hold back their sexuality.

The model and actress is known for speaking out about the societal pressures on women to be one thing – smart or sexy, but not both. She famously posed for a topless selfie with Kim Kardashian West after Ratajkowski supported the mom of two’s selfie.

“Often it’s men propelling these acts of sexism, but women discount one another too: Think about how many times you’ve heard a woman say about another woman, ‘Oh, she’s just doing that for attention.’ We’ve internalized this trope,” Ratajkowski writes in the October issue of Glamour magazine, on newsstands Sept. 13.

“Our society tells women we can’t be, say, sexy and confident and opinionated about politics. This would allow us too much power. Instead our society asks us to declare and defend our motivations, which makes us second-guess them, all while men do what they please without question.”

Ratajkowski gives Madonna as an example of a women who’s unfairly accused of attention-grabbing based on her clothing.

“Look at pop culture: Mick Jagger is 73, and he still sometimes wears his shirt open and gyrates onstage. We understand that this is a part of his performance and artistic brand,” she says. “Meanwhile, when Madonna, who is 58 and a revolutionary in that same kind of artistic sexuality, wears a sheer dress to the Met Gala, critics call her ‘a hot mess’ who’s ‘desperate.’ ”

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“But isn’t she just making one of her signature political statements about female sexuality (and, incidentally, about our ageist, sexist culture too)? In any case, they are both performers who undoubtedly like attention. So why does Madonna get flak for it while Jagger is celebrated?”

Ratajkowski’s dream is to have a society where women can show their sexuality and still be respected.

“The ideal feminist world shouldn’t be one where women suppress their human instincts for attention and desire. We shouldn’t be weighed down with the responsibility of explaining our every move. We shouldn’t have to apologize for wanting attention either. We don’t owe anyone an explanation. It’s not our responsibility to change the way we are seen – it’s society’s responsibility to change the way it sees us.”