The Dawn Chorus

Fresh Australian Feminism

I know which Kylie I prefer

Posted by caitlinate on April 24, 2010

Kylie Northover is not the right answer. They wrote this article. Should you be uninterested in following the link and reading the whole article, let me summarise the main gist:

- Female performers are only as good as how attractive the writer finds them. Older female performers are embarrassing because they aren’t, in the opinion of the author, hot. Because they are no longer considered hot they should retire lest anyone be confronted by the horrifying spectacle of an older woman performing or being in the limelight. If they can’t retire they could take a job as ‘a judge on British reality show The X Factor. It’s a nice, dignified role, befitting an elegantly maturing pop star.’

- Kylie Minogue is an ancient 42 years old.  She should ‘pack away her breasts’ and ‘unhand the shorty-shorts’ lest she turn out like… Madonna. Kylie should really just wake up and realise that, like all women, all she is worth is what she looks like – and Kylie Northover doesn’t think she looks all that great.

I’m too tired to say anything more than: fuck this sexist, age-ist shit. If you wanna be a journalist surely there are better ways to do it than attacking other women.

15 Responses to “I know which Kylie I prefer”

  1. What a revolting, petty article!

  2. Fen said

    I read that article earlier today and I was flabbergasted. It was good to see the majority of the comments were lambasting the writer of the article. She ought to be strung out and poked with sharp sticks!

  3. Nico said

    I read this too and was perplexed as the reason it was written and published. I think Northover actually refers to Kylie’s ongoing popularity – so why should she retire? The whole thing seems irrelevant.

  4. Hannah Colman said

    I particularly enjoy the fact that you tagged this article “shit journalism”.

    Reading Northover’s article depressed me beyond words.

    Northover’s article begins – “Oh Kylie, what happened? Seems you missed my memo that it might be time for you to retire from the music business.”

    It’s very tempting to write a letter to Northover, starting with, “Oh Kylie, what happened? Seems you missed my memo that it might be time for you to retire from the entertainment journalism business.”

  5. Natasha said

    In reading this article, I didn’t think it was against ageing women. In fact, in one sense it was arguing (in a poorly articulated fashion) FOR ageing women – because Northover specifically requests an “age appropriate re-invention” lest Minogue go the way of Madonna. I am completely fine with that request. I think Madonna, and Kylie, are both terrible role models and examples of older women. I don’t agree that ageing has to mean an end to a recording and performing career, but I too find it embarrassing and shameful to see women in their 40s, plied with botox, dancing around in hot pants in a quest to look eternally 18.

  6. William said

    Thanks Natasha. Perhaps to assist everyone, you can set out some rules for how women should behave and dress, depending on their age, to avoid “shame” and “embarrassment”? Presumably you are also as affected by men who do not pack themselves away from age 40?

  7. Annarose said

    I think in this case your logic is massively flawed.
    Don’t you think it’s more Minogue who’s age-ist, by making herself seem like a 20 year old rather than embracing her body shape according to her actual age?
    Don’t you think it’s a rather sad role model for girls, that to stay successful when you’re older, you still can’t wear pants?
    Don’t you think it’s a bit demeaning that her success, and her way of maintaining that success, is by staying as naked and ‘sexy’ as possible?
    And don’t you think that this kind of article was brought on by her own actions and trade? Kylie had minimal musical talent and largely became successful, as Northover rightly asserts and I’m sure Kylie would assent, because of ‘that’ video of her bum in hotpants. Her product was a cute 20 year old pop star. Just like the current set of cute 20 year old pop stars. So therefore, she was the one who made her brand about her youth and her young body… not Northover.
    You don’t see this article written about Tori Amos, Bjork or PJ Harvey, all current successful female musicians of the same age group. That’s because they choose to (predominantly) trade off their musical talent rather than their physical appeal. And thus this is how they are (predominantly) judged. I have never heard any of these artists criticised for their age- because their product is not affected by their age. Kylie’s is.
    I think women deserve the respect of being judged on what they choose to be judged on. Kylie focused her brand and her product on her body, and thus this is what she is judged on. A forty year old woman does not have the same body as a twenty year old, and that is just fact. To try and deny this, and force your body to be what it isn’t, is demeaning to herself and other forty year olds who choose to accept and embrace their shape. And so she is criticised for this. The article was pretty cruel, but would your reaction have been the same about a middle aged man who pretends he’s twenty?

  8. Linda Radfem said

    If you find it embarrassing and shameful, Natasha, then you clearly are ageist yourself. Age-appropriate? Who gets to decide what that is?

    Women can’t win on this issue, whatever they do. They comply with “beauty” standards demanded of all women and they’re “mutton dressed as lamb”. Or they can not comply, and they’ve “let themselves go!”.

  9. William said

    Annarose: The dichotomy of Kylie as body-obsessed, image-driven, talentless whore versus Tori/PJ/Bjork as serious musicians who are not marketed, care more about their work than their image etc etc is not an original one. It is also a complete fallacy, a highly flawed construction of the male-dominated music press which has persisted unfairly over time (particularly in Australia). This is mainly due to journalists who do not consider Kylie’s work (or any pop music without pretentions to be anything other than pop music) to be on par with “worthier” material – but to consider that an artist like Kylie is nothing more than an arse in hotpants is completely inconsistent with a 20+ year career – regardless of how talented she was when she started out.

  10. Annarose said

    I’m sorry William, what?
    Just because my point is not ‘original’ (incidentally, I never made the claim that it was) does not make it any less valid. Throughout Kylie’s 20 year career a major selling point has been her sex appeal. (Do a google search, look at the entire first page of image results and dare to contradict me.) To even suggest otherwise is totally irrational. And to imply that the two, that is, a twenty year career and using sex appeal, are mutually exclusive is also irrational- need I mention Madonna?
    About the ‘press give Kylie a hard time for being sexy’ comment- Kylie gets 20 times the positive press, particularly in mainstream culture, than singers like PJ ever have. The majority of journalists here, in England and elsewhere, are overwhelmingly supportive and respectful of Kylie.
    “It is also a complete fallacy, a highly flawed construction of the male-dominated music press which has persisted unfairly over time”. This is such shit and why feminism gets a bad rap. Be what you want and don’t apologise for it- if Kylie wants to be a sex icon first and singer second, then that’s her choice (if being the key word- if she was pushed into the role by male managers etc, that’s a whole different ball park). But to shield her from rational criticism with the easy cries of ‘male domination!’ is far more demeaning and patronising to women than allowing them to be accountable for their actions- right, wrong or a personal choice.
    Kylie Northover and I are both women (can’t cry male domination there, William), and I know I consider myself to be very, very pro-feminism- just not the cheap, no critical analysis version to which you and this article seem to subscribe.

  11. Annarose said

    PS, there’s no need to put words into my mouth (“body-obsessed, image-driven, talentless whore”) which I never said. Whipping yourself up into a state of hysteria does nothing for your argument.

  12. Natasha said

    I am really grateful for Annarose putting forth such an articulate argument. I agree wholeheartedly with her.

    @Linda There is no logic in your claim that I am clearly ageist myself. I would quite happily rage against an article that decries older women as ‘letting themselves go’ simply because their age is visible (such as Louis Nowra’s completely fucked article in the Monthly on Germaine Greer). I’m not sure on what basis you assume that I wouldn’t.

    And yes, I find the antics of Kylie embarrassing. I consider myself a feminist. That does not mean that I have to condone the actions of women simply because they are women. I would prefer to do them the respect of judging them on their merits. I don’t see what’s so empowering about a musician needing to look eternally young in order to sell records.

  13. The only reason feminism gets a bad rap is because feminism challenges male power.

  14. Emma said

    When a woman is attractive, that’s what the media focuses on, whether she likes it or not. And honestly, who wouldn’t like it? Beauty is capital for a woman in the public eye. It is easy for us mere mortals to criticise women who capitalise on their looks, but I think if I was in the public eye, and I saw how far it got me, I might “choose” to capitalise on my looks too. Who knows who has more force in emphasising Kylie’s looks over her music – is it Kylie herself? Or is it her managers, the mass media, the music industry in general? Or is it us – the public? I think it is a combination of all those elements. In a patriarchal society where women are valued for what they look like, and more specifically where women’s bodies are sexualised as par for the course, making the most of your looks is a practical decision. It’s the patriarchal society that makes that a practical decision that we should be criticising – not the individuals ‘choosing’ to do so.

  15. KO said

    I’m so glad you wrote this – I read the article when it came out too and was perplexed by Northover’s bitterness; It really read like a personal attack. Why does Northover hate Kylie (and her bum) so much?

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