Friday, September 14, 2012

The Topless Kate Middleton Controversy

I have been mulling over a recent event and have decided that I would really like to write about it. So I'm going to.
Kate Middleton has married Prince William and the media has been scrutinising her closely. Last night there was a news segment which took up five minutes of our time showing her making a speech which was essentially "Thanks for having us" and seemed to me to be almost as bland as a news item can be.
This morning I woke up and turned on the news and it was all about how she had been snapped topless and the photos have been published in a French magazine.
At first I thought, oh well, I guess she did some nude modelling when she was younger, big deal.
But no, these pictures had been taken of her sunbathing topless on a balcony of a private and supposedly secure hotel (I'm assuming here that the photographer would have had to enter private grounds to take the photos.)
People (on the news) have been saying, well she was naive to go outside without a top, regardless of how secure the hotel was. And perhaps she was.
There have been two different people (I think, the photographer and the editor of the magazine he sold the pictures to) come on screen and defend the pictures, both of them expressing their confusion over the controversy, saying that Kate is young and good looking and they can't see the problem.
Here, to me, is the problem.
It's one thing to publish naked photos of someone who did nude modelling, or who stripped off in a public place (like a beach). Tasteless, maybe. But, to me, they consented to being nude in public and those are the consequences.
Kate did not consent in any shape or form. You can say she was being naive, but when does that responsibility end? Is she being naive if she leaves her curtains open a crack by accident before getting changed? Is she naive if she changes in a room that hasn't been swept for sensors and cameras? Is she naive if she ever takes her clothes off for any reason?
 Kate has married into the public eye. But she never signed a contract that stated that gives the right for people to see her naked if the opportunity arises. And the scary thing is, they are doing it anyway. Which means, since there's no contract separating her from you, that they could do the same thing to you without any justification. Why not?
And saying that "it's OK, because she's hot" just makes it worse. It reeks of the old "she was asking for it" mantra that rapists have been using for generations. I don't want to compare this to rape, because I think rape is a word that should be used with caution, to respect the people who have experienced its full horror.
But this was definitely treading a fine line toward sexual assault. Those photos will be online forever. She now knows that she can never trust, never turn her back, never let her guard down, no matter what the circumstances.
And I wouldn't wish that on anyone. 


  1. Yes, she has no privacy, can trust no one, that's essentially what she signed up to when she joined. Tough. It's unpleasant perhaps, but Kate knew the deal. It's not as if she was a gullible naif like Diana. She was nearly 30. And there are massive compensations.
    What has happened is qualitatively no different from any celebrity being snapped off guard. The royals use the media to propagandize their ahem 'work trips' etc, but if the story is to their detriment, it's an invasion of privacy.
    And equating this incident with sexual assault is facile.

  2. So, would you have the same opinion if she wasn't famous? Just some random girl on her honeymoon, in a private location who happened to be naked and got photos splashed all over the press?
    Would that girl be allowed to feel violated, or is that also facile?

    My point isn't whether or not she knew what she signed up for. I'm sure she did. My point isn't whether or not she acted in a stupid way. You could argue that she did. Or whether or not this has happened before, to other celebrities. It certainly has.

    My point is that by accepting what happened to her as normal, and permissible, we allow that to become normal behaviour for anyone, whether they are considered "public property" or not.
    If you wouldn't mind it happening to you, or your daughter, then we have different views on what should be considered OK.

  3. Why would accepting what happened to her be the same as accepting the same could happen to anybody?

    Being a Royal is not normal to us, but to them it is exceedingly so. Fame comes with flip-sides. Cracks where the sun shines. There are vultures paid to snap pics of them in compromising positions. They wait weeks to get a glimpse of flesh. Then they dig in. It must be exciting, the thrill of the hunt. The bird's eye blinks and the next day, we have a topless princess splashed all over the front pages.

    She was well aware of them. She knew the dangers beforehand. And yet, a thirst for freedom erased all other concerns.

    She seems a down to earth woman, and would have gauged the situation with a cool head.

    It has blown over.