Wednesday 20 September 2017

Comment: Why is Amanda Holden's low-cut dress more shocking to viewers than a rape scene?

Amanda Holden on Britain's Got Talent. Image: ITV
Amanda Holden on Britain's Got Talent. Image: ITV
Image: Amanda Holden/Instagram
Actor/singer Cher (C) performs onstage during the 2017 Billboard Music Awards at T-Mobile Arena on May 21, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Radhika Sanghani

What is more shocking to audiences in 2017: a gang-rape or a low-cut dress? According to ITV viewers, it’s the latter.

Britain’s Got Talent judge Amanda Holden’s choice of frock in Thursday night's show led to 216 Ofcom complaints from viewers who were appalled - not by its five-figure price tag, but by the fact that it showed off Holden’s cleavage.

Meanwhile, a horrific gang rape on Coronation Street the same night, which showed a 16-year-old being sexually assaulted by a group of men, who burned her with a cigarette, led to just 13 Ofcom complaints.

On Twitter, viewers seemed equally shocked by both the gang-rape and Holden’s dress.

Image: Amanda Holden/Instagram
Image: Amanda Holden/Instagram

"This is a family show with children watching," they wrote, with the hashtag #BGT. An hour and a half later, they added, "Please help, our children watch this" - this time with the hashtag #CoronationStreet.

It is hard to tell what they were more concerned by - the thought of children seeing a young woman about to be raped, or Holden’s breasts.

But considering the British public’s attitude to bare flesh on a woman over the age of 40, it's not too much of a stretch to imagine the latter - something reflected in the number of complaints.

As many social media users pointed out with unmasked outrage, Holden is 46-years-old - and a mother. Yet she dared to wear a dress that just skimmed past her nipples. "Hanging her babs out on a family show when she has young children herself," wrote one shocked commenter. "Stripper."

"Amanda Holden look absolutely ridiculous!!" chimed in another. "How old does she think she looks?? Vile."

Another took it even further: "Amanda Holden has her saggy old lils hanging out!!!!! #putitaway"

The worst comments came from women. Most of the men were too busy salivating over Holden’s decidedly un-saggy figure to vocalise any opinion other than an emoji face with hearts in its eyes.

Many claimed their fury came from the fact that BGT is a family programme - but this can't be the cause of all 216 complaints. For very young kids, breasts are nothing more than two lumps of milk-giving flesh attached to their mothers’ chests. And for older children? Ladies and gentleman, I present the internet.

The real issue - whether people admit it or not - is that Holden is a middle-aged woman embracing her sexuality. Many BGT viewers cannot accept that she, a mother and 46-year-old, would be so audacious as to hint at that. The fact that so many women were offended just goes to show how much fear society has created around older female flesh.

We previously saw the same sort of fuss around Cher and Madonna. Days after Cher turned 71, she performed at the BIllboard Music Awards wearing a diamond-studded bra with a pink nipple pasty. The 'horror' over this outfit was led by Piers Morgan: "She’s a grandmother, for goodness’ sake, just put it away, grow old gracefully," he said.

It echoed the same comments he made a year earlier, when a 57-year-old Madonna showed off her bum cheeks at the 2016 Met Gala.

"Put. It. Away. Madonna," he tweeted. (One can assume he would be tweeting Holden the exact same message right now if he hadn’t also been a BGT judge.)

Actor/singer Cher (C) performs onstage during the 2017 Billboard Music Awards at T-Mobile Arena on May 21, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Actor/singer Cher (C) performs onstage during the 2017 Billboard Music Awards at T-Mobile Arena on May 21, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Back then Madonna put him - and the rest of the Twitter trolls - in their place, and her words apply to the criticism against Holden now:

"The fact that people actually believe a woman is not allowed to express her sexuality and be adventurous past a certain age is proof that we still live in an ageist and sexist society. We cannot affect change unless we are willing to take risks by being fearless and by taking the road less travelled by. That’s how we change history.

"If you have a problem with the way I dress it is simply a reflection of your prejudice. I'm not afraid to pave the way for all the girls behind me."

It's a message those 216 complainants would do well to remember.

Telegraph.co.uk

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