Belfast Telegraph

Was a selfie of your bum really the best way of making a point Kim?

By Jane Graham

I can empathise with Kim Kardashian who, presumably having had a bummer of a week, decided to tweet a naked selfie to her 41.8 million followers to cheer herself up. We've all done it. I know when I'm looking to combat the monotony of a rainy bad hair day, breaking the internet (again!) by posting an old photo of my nude self mid-twerk certainly empowers me. And I like to empower myself at least three times a week.

(Warning: the word "empower" and derivations thereof appears multiple times in the following paragraph).

"Empowering" has become the go-to word for anyone seeking attention by bringing a soft porn vibe to the presentation of their bodies. It's difficult for feminists to critique any behaviour claimed to be an act of empowerment. But isn't respect - being taken seriously - the ultimate goal for someone looking to empower herself?

If so, is a butt-naked selfie really the best way to ensure a future where intelligent people are keen to hear your opinions, where politicians want to consider your thoughts before they act?

No matter how magnificent, isn't being the woman with the globally recognised bum likely to paint you into a corner pretty swiftly, a corner in which your ideas and concerns are entirely powerless?

Teenage Kickass star Chloe Moretz wasn't impressed.

Her comment - that she wished Kim would focus her influence on "teaching (young women) we have so much more to offer than just our bodies" - clearly riled Kim, who churlishly pouted "no one knows who she (Chloe) is".

Kim won't like this, but the talented Moretz, 16 years her junior, reflects a more considered, sombre mood common to her generation. Times move on and one day will regard even the Kardashians as moribund. Many young women of Chloe's age see Kim's approach to media - turning herself and her naked form into a commercial brand - as old hat, self-limiting and a bit desperate.

Of course, Moretz met a barrage of criticism from Kimmy fans, who accused her of slut-shaming Kardashian. For anyone confused, "slut-shaming" began as a useful term, drawing attention to those who attacked women for wearing revealing clothes, or suggested a short skirt gave men a legitimate reason to assume the wearer was "up for it".

The term is now used to close down anyone who queries a woman's decision to celebrate the contribution her youth and body make to society, without offering any brain-sourced back-up. We shouldn't be intimidated by accusations of slut-shaming. The word is thrown around with arbitrary impunity, often to undermine a considered feminist response to an issue far more complex.

In an ideal world, we could show off our backside one day and our poetry the next and maintain mass respect regardless. But, in reality, we need to be nuanced and choose our battles carefully.

We still live in a world of huge financial disparity between the sexes. Female creativity remains under suspicion - just this week, an esteemed BBC presenter incredulously exclaimed that Carole King had written her legendary album Tapestry "all by herself". Over in the US, Hillary Clinton's impassioned speech was attacked by male commentators on the basis that a lady shouldn't raise her voice too loud.

We still have big barriers to break to achieve equal respect and, with it, real power. It's not a fair fight, but if you're a pragmatist who wants real change, rather than more decades of inter-feminist debate, with few demonstrable victories, we have first to acknowledge the nature of the battleground.

And hopefully, one day, in the inspiring words of Spinal Tap, we can leave this behind.

Are you listening now, minister?

Weighing up the pros and cons of maintaining the BBC licence fee, Culture Minister John Whittingale has repeatedly stated his commitment to listening to viewers. This week, the Radio Times revealed he “wasn’t telling the truth”.

The magazine had collated the views of 9,000 readers through a long, thorough survey and sent it to Whittingale. The minister’s consultation closed this month and he proudly stated that “every response has been read”.

Yet, it turns out his department never even requested the password to open the Radio Times’ encrypted email, with more than 6,000 survey responses in it.

Let’s see you get out of this one, John.

Sarah’s arresting in classic drama

We live in a golden age of TV drama. (Don’t let anyone tell you any different, kids.) There has never been such a choice of quality programmes, many offering glimpses into foreign cultures, histories and landscapes.

This week saw the finale of Happy Valley, the best thing queen of UK drama, Sally Wainwright (most of our best contemporary dramatists are women), has written.

What a knockout! A gripping plot, a palpable sense of menace and sadness. And a performance by Sarah Lancashire that has surely left the whole country in love with her.

Warm, weary, funny, strong and intelligent, the integrity of the actress shone through her terrific creation. Superb.

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