FREE THE NIPPLE

03.30.16 9:32 PM ET

Kim Kardashian and Emily Ratajkowski’s Nude Bathroom Pic Sets Internet Ablaze

The BFFs decided to free the nipple in a bathroom selfie on Wednesday, and, as expected, the Internet went wild. But there’s more at stake here than mere publicity.

In case you missed it, Kim Kardashian and Emily Ratajkowski posed topless in a bathroom, selfie’d it, and then posted said image on social media.

Whether it was a girl power attempt to divert the media’s attention away from the embattled Kehlani and scumbaggy Nick Young or just some good ol’-fashioned fun is anyone’s guess, but you’ve got to give it to Kim at this point: She knows how to keep herself in the news, and use her biggest asset—her sexuality—to do it. Nothing wrong with that.

Or so we thought. You see, when Kim Kardashian posted a photo of her post-pregnancy body in the buff this month, it triggered her legion of haters, who fired back at the reality star-entrepreneur with all manner of misguided vitriol. Everyone from Pink, Bette Midler, Chloë Grace Moretz, and one of the world’s premier hacks, Piers Morgan, cast aspersions on Kim for displaying her God-given talent. Moretz summed up their criticisms, tweeting, “I truly hope you realize how important setting goals are for young women, teaching them we have so much more to offer than our bodies.”

The picture transformed Hollywood into a veritable Real World/Road Rules Challenge, with A-list celebrities taking sides. Miley Cyrus and Amber Rose came down firmly on Team Kim, with Rose telling The Daily Beast, “It’s bullshit, and this is the thing: They come at me and Kim so hard because I was a stripper and she had a sex tape. So if we could sing, it would be OK if we were on stage half-naked. We all love Beyoncé, but she’s on stage half-naked and twerking all the time, yet people say, oh, she has talent so she’s able to do that. We don’t have the talent that Beyoncé has, so we get criticized as former sex workers, but at the end of the day we’re just women—we’re all women—and we should all embrace each other. No one is greater.”

Another gal who came to Kim’s side was Ratajkowski, a longtime Free the Nipple proponent:

In response, Kim, ever the classy one—which she does not get enough credit for, really, as you rarely see her in any sort of tabloid skirmish—sent Ratajkowski a bouquet of flowers:

Indeed, Kim’s talent is her body, and her ability to challenge prudish social mores with it. For whatever reason, these days, people have a knee-jerk negative reaction whenever any woman posts a nude photo of herself online, let alone Kim. Her Instagram comments and Twitter mentions will be flooded with critics—primarily women—tearing her down. Yes, some of this has to do with Kim, but not all of it. There is an insidiousness in America today when it comes to female sexuality, and it’s epitomized by one tiny-handed man, Donald J. Trump. To Trump, female sexuality and agency is a violent affront to the patriarchal order. To Trump, the former Miss Universe honcho—who even made Apprentice contests twirl and pose for him—women are mere objects served up for his consumption and judgment. And it’s really about power and control; men like Trump want to govern the gaze and control the female body.

So, when women like Kim and Ratajkowski post their own nude photos, they’re in a sense reclaiming ownership over their bodies; they’re no longer the ingénue, but the director of the picture.