Neighbours star Caitlin Stasey and Bindi Irwin clash on Twitter over 'modesty' dressing

Caitlin Stasey (left) and Bindi Irwin (right).

Caitlin Stasey (left) and Bindi Irwin (right). Photo: Getty

The media likes nothing better than to pit young female stars against each other in a battle of the Madonna and the Whore, and the unwilling contenders in this week’s Good Role Model vs Bad Role Model cage fight to the death at The Coliseum of Moral Judgment  are Bindi Irwin and former Neighbours star Caitlin Stasey.

In an interview with News Corp, a discussion of Irwin’s personal style turned into the young “wildlife warrior” offering her thoughts about her fellow teens’ sartorial habits. “I mean, for me, I look around at a lot of young girls that are my age and they’re always trying to dress older,” she said. “Whether it’s wearing revealing clothes or hardly wearing any clothes at all, I feel really bad for them.”

“A lot of times I want to grab these girls and say ‘look ... in 10 years you’ll regret this,” she continued. “Just dress like who you are. Don’t try so hard. A pair of jeans and a T-shirt is just as gorgeous and even makes you look classier’.”

Stasey responded via Twitter:

Advertisement

It will surprise you only if you have recently arrived on earth from a distant galaxy to hear that the media then went berserk, pitting the wholesome Irwin against the mean, uncouth Stasey. This is likely because Stasey has, of late, been using her social media platform to eloquently discuss gender politics and censorship.

Of course, such a subtle and truthful exploration of these issues is lost on the mainstream media, who instead trumpeted about her “racy” and “sexy” Instagram posts. It’s an undeniable contrast with Irwin, whose social media presence is intensely monitored to present a particular “personal brand” (photos of her holding a starfish alongside a Rainer Maria Rilke quote, for example).

There is no right or wrong party here, at least as far as Irwin and Stasey’s opinions are concerned, though if it were up to me Stasey’s emphasis on personal expression would win out: young women should be able to dress however they damn well want, without fear of judgment or being, say, thrown together in a witless media “fight”. I’d hope it’s just youthful naivety that leads Irwin to make judgments about what style of dress is “classier”, since “classy” is usually code for “not a slut” or “better than you”.

Inevitably, it’s the defender of modesty who gets the media approval in this instance, since Stasey’s stance (i.e. that young women should be encouraged to have agency and express themselves however they like) is terrifying to a conservative media that prefers its young women to fit a prescribed notion of “good behaviour”. The media - and armchair commentators - are far more likely to side with the young women who has played it safe, even though such approval comes with scant analysis of precisely why Irwin feels the need to come out batting for modesty.

Yes, many young women like to dress modestly; that’s not the issue here. Rather, we should examine why Irwin is goaded into sounding off about her fellow young women’s clothing in the first place.

Hint: it’s the big neon sign flashing “SEXISM” 50ft high, and the klieg lights spelling out “DOUBLE STANDARD” behind it. Imagine a similar pair of young male stars being played off against each other. Imagine their being asked what they think about how other men dress. 

64 comments

  • Bindi is entitled to talk publicly about what works for HER but she should have stopped short of judging other's choices, otherwise she's setting herself up as a target too. There's a lesson there for everyone. I've never heard of Caitlin Stasey before reading this article but she seems rather switched on.

    Agree completely about sexism driving this bunfight, especially in the MSM.

    Commenter
    yumq
    Location
    cbr
    Date and time
    June 24, 2014, 12:27PM
    • Go into your capital city on a Friday night this winter and observe young women out on the town proving to the to the world that yes indeed, they do in fact have skin all the way up their legs.

      Are they wearing this (or not wearing as the case may be) as some sort of expression of how empowered they are OR is it that so many men these days are so desensitised by the porn they watch during the week that it is the bets way for a girl to be noticed?

      Could it be that Bindi actually hit the nail on the head and we have made ourselves so comfortable with our slavery to sex that the nail actually hurts?

      Commenter
      Snikersnee
      Date and time
      June 25, 2014, 2:26PM
  • All those animals at Australia Zoo should cover themselves up its disgraceful getting around in their pens with all their bits hanging out for the world to see.

    Commenter
    Kristen
    Location
    St Kilda
    Date and time
    June 24, 2014, 1:08PM
    • I'm not convinced. I think Bindi has a point. It seems to me that there is a culture that says that the only way for girls and women to feel 'empowered' or 'liberated' is to project a sexually alluring or provocative appearance. Far from being 'liberating', what is called 'raunch culture' seems to me to be simply dragging women and girls further into the pit of sexual objectification. Madonna and whore are two sides of the same coin - both compel women to fit into an imposed image that is related to sexual perception. Women should be able to feel free to dress modestly - that is, not in a sexually projective manner - without feeling that they are somehow 'letting the side down'. Also note that between 'Madonna' and 'whore', between 'raunch' and 'nanna', is a whole range possibilities that women and girls should feel free to go with.

      BTW, I'm male. Beautiful is sexy, but 'sexy' is rarely beautiful. The Pussycat Dolls doing 'Don'tcha' is not particularly sexy, more crude, tacky and desperate.

      Commenter
      Kris
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      June 24, 2014, 1:12PM
      • "Women should be able to feel free to dress modestly - that is, not in a sexually projective manner - without feeling that they are somehow 'letting the side down'."

        Women should feel free to dress however they like, actually.

        "Also note that between 'Madonna' and 'whore', between 'raunch' and 'nanna', is a whole range possibilities that women and girls should feel free to go with."

        After your spiel on how the "Madonna/whore" dichotomy is a regressive means of forcing women to conform, you go right ahead and continue to judge and label women who dress in ways that you don't personally approve of. How is that helpful? And has it even for a moment occurred to you that many women you label as "nannas" or "whores" may actually view themselves as dressing within that "wide range of possibilities" without falling at either end?

        "BTW, I'm male. Beautiful is sexy, but 'sexy' is rarely beautiful. The Pussycat Dolls doing 'Don'tcha' is not particularly sexy, more crude, tacky and desperate."

        Translation: "As a man, let me be the first to explain to explain to you women why your choices are wrong, and that showing your bodies is actually crude, tacky and desperate."

        Commenter
        Red Pony
        Date and time
        June 25, 2014, 3:27PM
    • Young women should have the freedom to wear what they want but should not be encouraged (like the author does) to wear skimpy and revealing clothes. As a man I would enjoy the sight but would not like my wife or daughter to be dressed that way.

      Commenter
      KV
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      June 24, 2014, 1:25PM
      • "young women should be able to dress however they damn well want, without fear of judgment"

        Oh, come on. I would hazard a guess that how one will be judged by others comprises a large proportion of the decision making process when choosing clothes.

        The teenage boys all wearing chino shorts, the teenage girls all wearing tiny shorts, to the 55 year old divorced bloke wearing a polo shirt with popped collar to look cool is all about seeking the right kind of judgement.

        it is naïve to think that young girls, in particular, do not want to be judged for the clothes they wear. It is only that they want to be judged in the right way, but they can't control that.

        Commenter
        Public Joe
        Date and time
        June 24, 2014, 1:26PM
        • 40 years ago you were just trying to fit in too. Have a look in your photo albums and count the cringe worthy outfits. Then compare those outfits to the media of that moment.

          Commenter
          Rachael
          Location
          Sydney
          Date and time
          June 25, 2014, 12:57PM
      • Hear, hear. !!

        Commenter
        D Keller
        Date and time
        June 24, 2014, 1:33PM
        • I believe all have a right to wear whatever they want.
          In light of that all the discussion between these two young women is senseless.
          We are not suppose to judge others as we would not like to be judged.

          Commenter
          sedona
          Date and time
          June 24, 2014, 1:39PM

          More comments

          Comments are now closed