Women have been taking their clothes off again and, predictably, the person this most affects is Piers Morgan.
Little Mix, to promote their new single, Strip, have – believe it or not - stripped, with their insecurities scribbled across their naked bodies. Positioned as a rallying cry for female solidarity when it comes to body acceptance, it has nonetheless ruffled Morgan’s feathers. He has accused them of using sex to sell records.
Ladies, can we please all spare a thought for poor Piers Morgan and refrain from taking our clothes off? Consider this a public service announcement for this long-suffering man’s health, he’s already had to endure a naked Emily Ratajkowski and more of Kim Kardashian’s unclothed derriere than he can bear. Both have impacted him greatly, and he has been unafraid of vocalising the deep pain it has caused him.
His recent Twitter, pearl-clutching splutterings on the matter have prompted a spat with, not only Little Mix but Ariana Grande and (rather brilliantly) Grande’s mother. His rhetoric – gleefully courting attention - remained unmoved: getting your tits out is a no-no gals, so put 'em away (for the lads).
As much as we want to eye-roll or laugh at Morgan’s faux concern over female nudity, the undercurrent of what he is espousing is actually quite dangerous. This is more so because he is making attempts to couch his concern in a feminist light; that taking off your clothes somehow detracts from your talent, that sexuality is degrading and not in line with the idea of female independence.
Ariana Grande and her mum brought Piers Morgan down in the most spectacular fashion after he slated Little Mix and Ellen DeGeneres
This is not an original opinion. The female body has long been a battleground for feminist debate and protest. Fighting for agency over it is at the core of the Pro-Choice movement, reframing the image of what a female body should look like, is at the centre of the body positivity movement and the struggle to protect female bodies from the assumption that they are public sexual property has been made glaringly apparent by the MetToo movement.
Yet there is still debate - even from within the feminist movement - over what female nudity means. Is it a bold display of female empowerment or is it pandering to the male gaze and using sex to court publicity and even (shock horror) make money? There are valid issues raised on both sides; women’s worth has, historically, fallen within a binary solely related to their bodies: the mother or the whore. Using your body sexually (and publicly so) has therefore irked some feminists, who see this as, not empowering yourself, but working within a patriarchal framework: namely giving men what they want and reducing your worth to just your body. Yet, this latter argument relies on an assumption that, I believe, actually props up the patriarchy more than it stands against it.
Because the fact is this; if we cannot see a woman naked without viewing her sexually, we are still only viewing her through a male gaze; we have basically internalised the patriarchy. If we see female sexuality as licentious and inappropriate - something to be shamed on Twitter rather than admired - we are reducing women’s capacity for their own sexual expression. This is already an issue when we think of young girls growing up thinking of themselves only as vessels for a man’s sexual agency - something to be acted upon not someone with sexual power of their own. Every time we slam a woman down for taking off her kit consensually, we re-enforce this idea.
Little Mix took their clothes off to make a point about body positivity not to be shamed into putting their clothes back on. Whether their nudity sells more records is, frankly, negligible; but the accusation that they are using sex to sell their records is laughable. In making the immediate connection between female nudity and sex, Morgan has exposed his own response to the naked female form and how far he is from understanding that the choices made by women with relation to their bodies – clothed or otherwise – do not concern him. As Ariana Grande said herself, in the midst of this debate: “I use my talent AND my sexuality all the time because I choose to. Women can be sexual AND talented. naked and dignified. It’s OUR choice.”
The offence is, in this instance, in the eye of the offended. If female nudity bothers you: look away.