Best Undressed: Miss Nude Australia

After watching part of a Channel 4 series Best Undressed (of which, more later), I’ve been reflecting upon attitudes towards women and their bodies this week.

There has been outrage over an article in Mother & Baby magazine by Kathryn Blundell about bottlefeeding her baby because she finds breastfeeding ‘creepy’ and likes her ‘fun bags’ kept firm and for her man and not her child. Oh, and she wants to quaff a glass or two. I make no comment, and no judgement, about bottlefeeding over breastfeeding, and have a great deal of sympathy about the wine business (tho’ in truth, I found motherhood so bone-weakeningly knackering, it seriously dented my pleasure in drinking for quite some years). But what I really hated about her article, and about the massively judgemental reaction to it, is how it reflects the misogyny that is so rife, so venomous and so ubiquitous in British society. Women don’t need men to stand in judgement of their size, shape and cellulite. Hell, we don’t even need other women to do it. We loathe ourselves with a passion.

Breastfeeding, and how it is perceived, is just a window to that horrible nasty world where it’s not even ok to suckle a child for fear of making your tits saggy later on (and because doing so in public is such a nightmare, it’s not surprising even women that want to do it, give up). And, by the by, Kathryn. It’s age and gravity you are fighting, not your infant. Tits will sag, buy the best bra you can get. End of story.

It was interesting, this week, to note the appointment of Welsh-born Julia Gillard as the first ever female Prime Minister of that less than obviously pro-women nation, Australia. Particularly when juxtaposed against the Martin Taylor’s documentary about Miss Nude Australia on Channel 4. It was fascinating to watch. Most, if not all, of the contestants are professional strippers or pole dancers. Many were smart and very engaging. One woman was explaining how difficult it is for her boyfriend to remember she is acting and doing a job, and isn’t looking to actually seduce the men in the audience. It reminded me of one of my favourite scenes in the Robert Altman film, Short Cuts, when a woman is simultaneously changing her baby’s nappy and within earshot of her husband, making her living (and paying for the nappies) by talking dirty down the phone. Unsurprisingly, the husband is very uncomfortable (but doesn’t, please note, help by looking after the baby), and later asks, to her incredulity, if she gets turned on doing it.

In terms of the Miss Nude Australia contestants, I was impressed with their imaginative costumes (they start fully clothed) as well as their skill and athleticism on that pole (and hoop, and in one strange case, cat climbing toy) really impressive. It was interesting to meet some of the families too, and I found myself quite liking the cross-dressing promoter.

I was less keen on the clothed Australian men behind a table doing the judging of the ‘best lungs’ and ‘best buns’. If it were a contest judged by women and gay men, Dame Edna, or even a panel who were themselves nude, I could have just about stomached it. But ultimately, however feisty and engaging the women are, they are laid up there like depilated slabs of meat to be judged on their tits and arse by clothed men, and that does not, and never will, sit comfortably with me.

Posted by Inkface

6 Comments

Filed under Documentaries

6 responses to “Best Undressed: Miss Nude Australia

  1. Words fail me. Or rather, if I got started on this right now, I might just explode. Can I recommend the great blog of MaryAnn Johansson, FlickFilosopher.com – she has a great explanation of the “male gaze” which should be grist to your mill and fuel to your fire.

  2. Qwerty

    Sometimes it seems that for every step we take forward for women (female Oz PM: who’d have thunk it?) we take three steps back. I find it incredibly depressing that women still want to be judged by their bodies, still want to strip off for ‘Nuts’ and Page 3. Or, all right, don’t all necessarily want to, but can’t find financial or psychological reward in other ways.

  3. inkface

    Because when you get ‘positive’ attention, it feels like power. Of course it’s not power at all, not in a real or lasting sense. It depresses me that most young women think feminism is a load of bunkum, and only (if ever) get what it’s about when they become older and lose that ephemeral ‘power’ of sexuality. It is horribly depressing, but I guess it’s going to take a new wave of young women to wake up and realise what bloody short sighted idiots they’ve been, and seize some real control again. Hopefully.

  4. James Embry

    In Texas, it’s illegal to interfere with a nursing mother in a public place, or any place she would have a legal right to be if she wasn’t breastfeeding. There is no requirement that she cover up the breast being used by the infant, even though there are still a lot of people around who haven’t got the message. This includes airliners while still on the ground. Federal rules favoring flight attendant dictates don’t take over until the craft is airborne, and, of course, it’s better for everyone aboard that doesn’t want to listen to a baby in pain to let the mother nurse the child all she wants to.

  5. Elizabeth Graham

    Dita Von Tesse, the internationally famous Burlesque stripper stated in an interview with The Guardian said that one of the last stages of female liberation is where a woman can stand up and say ‘I want to be a sexual creature… my fantasy is to be desired, not to have a man listen to me talk about something intellectual… can’t I have it all’ (some what paraphrased, can be found on YouTube). Women’s liberation is about being viewed by men, other women and the world as completely equal. How is being a sexual creature, a weakness or a disgrace?

    • inkface

      Dita Von Teese (not Tesse), the well paid and magnificent Burlesque artist, is very much in control of her body and what she does with it. The power lies with her. The name ‘Teese’ was chosen as a perfect symbol of this. She chooses, in clothes terms, what to remove, when and where. All members of the audiences are in the palm of her hand – she has the whip hand. This, I applaud. Being a sexual creature is neither a weakness or a disgrace. It’s keeping your power and using it as you see fit. Giving all your power away is quite the reverse of it, and that’s what my problem is with this programme.

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