It seems you can’t go a week these days without someone publishing a piece on leaked naked photos or a woman showing a little too much skin to the paparazzi. Rihanna, Brittany Spears, Emma Watson, and Anne Hathaway, among others, have all been featured in photographs taken up their skirts. Janet Jackson’s Superbowl slip made national headlines. When Heidi Klum rescued her son and his nanny from a riptide, the story led with images of her breast, nipple censored, falling out of her bikini top as she pulled the nanny from the water. A woman’s exposed nipple is much more important than quick and courageous action that saved the lives of two people. It’s much more rare to see the media called out on selling pictures taken by men who stalk women and underage girls in the hopes of getting photographs of their naked or partly-naked bodies.
The accepted reaction to these sorts of things on the part of those subjected to the media’s incessant hunger for revealing images seems to be gracefully ignoring them (although apologies, particularly in the case of leaked photos, are sometimes made). If we don’t talk about them, they’ll just go away. Perhaps that’s why it was so refreshing to watch Amanda Palmer react to a piece by the Daily Mail (not-so-cleverly titled “Making a boob of herself“) that described her breast “escaping” her bra during her performance at the Glastonbury Festival. Her open letter, in the form of a waltz, is a scathing retort that blatantly calls out the gutter press on its misogynistic double standard, and does so with style and humor.
Some viewers immediately jumped on her use of nudity, and the fact that she was responding to the article at all with comments calling her a narcissistic attention whore and complaining about her visible underarm hair. Others were surprised she would be angry. Clearly women are meant to expect commentary on their bodies by strangers, and shaming headlines are business as usual. She was even accused of exploiting her own body by stripping naked during the song. Still, much of the discourse prompted by her action has been feminist in nature:
The song itself is fairly straightforward with its critique of body policing and shaming, acknowledging that a woman’s bare breast is, in fact, “a breast in its natural habitat,” and noting that “it’s so sad what you tabloids are doing/your focus on debasing women’s appearances devolves our species of humans.”
It also, quite rightly, demands to know why it is only women that are repeatedly called out on their bodies in a manner meant to shame them:
“I’m tired of these baby bumps, vadge flashes, muffintops where are the newsworthy COCKS? If Iggy or Jagger or Gowie go shirtless the news barely causes a ripple blah blah blah feminist blah blah blah gender shit blah blah blah OH MY GOD NIPPLE”
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
Not everyone may agree with Amanda Palmer’s answer to misogynistic press. It’s loud, unapologetic, and not at all conservative-friendly. Personally, I applaud her. She’s opened a conversation that desperately needs to be had.
Written by Madison Carlson