There was very little good news for the Romney campaign this week, or frankly this past month. Between Clint Eastwood's performance art at the RNC Convention (which I am convinced he will one day admit really was a piece of experimental theatre inspired by the show Punk'd) and the 47 percent secret tape heard round the world, he's had the kind of bumps just before an election that political consultants have nightmares about.
But it could be worse. At least a bunch of strangers haven't seen him naked. Something his fellow member of the "People who have run for President" club, John Edwards, cannot say today. And now something Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton cannot say. Perhaps the only other good news for the Romney campaign is that if there has been a single news story that has prevented the implosion of his campaign from getting even more coverage than it already has, it is the story of Kate Middleton's breasts.
Any of us who thought the media obsession with Middleton reached a crescendo with her royal wedding last year were sorely mistaken. Boobgate, as I have taken to calling the wall-to-wall coverage of the Duchess's topless photo scandal, has made the coverage of the royal wedding seem quaint by comparison. Think I'm kidding? Well a Google search of "Middleton (royal wedding)" produces 43 million results. A search of "Middleton (topless photos)" produces 311 million results. Granted I suppose this shouldn't be all that shocking. After all, a hundred women could walk down the street in white dresses and the average man may not notice the brides but one topless woman walks down the street and there would be multi-car pile-ups as male drivers swiveled their heads to get a peek.
For the record I find the invasion of Kate Middleton's privacy appalling and I am glad that the royal couple got a ruling in their favor on the matter in at least one court of law. But the reality is the pics are out there and will always be out there living eternally thanks to the web. There is nothing she can do about them, but there is something she should.
She should turn this entire embarrassing, uncomfortable situation into an opportunity. This situation proves once and for all that Middleton is one of the most visible, sought after women on the planet. She could allow this scandal to cause her to run from that role (although frankly it's a little late for that). Or she could embrace her new found influence and platform with gusto and use it for good, something she has been slow to do so far.
Before any angry subjects lambast me, I am well aware of her many appearances on behalf of the royal family since joining it, including her and her husband's recent tour of Asia. But I am wondering if she is aware that in the Solomon Islands, one of the places where she and her husband stopped, a recent report found that "64 per cent of women between the ages of 15 and 49 experienced violence in the home."
In Tuvalu, where the Duke and Duchess were filmed showing off their dance skills, nearly half of all women report being victims of violence yet there is no law against domestic violence, no domestic violence shelters and no such thing as spousal rape under the law. Other forms of rape are minimally punished and sexual harassment is not prohibited.
Some will argue that it has not traditionally been the role of royals to wade into controversial social or political terrain, but my understanding is traditionally the royal family was not a welcoming place to so-called "commoners." Middleton's ascension is proof that times have changed, and if the monarchy doesn't want to fade into total irrelevance it will have to change too. That means in part allowing Middleton to be a modern day princess. That means doing more than playing dress up, waving and smiling and calling that a worthwhile contribution to humanity. She has a platform, so use it, to help women in the Solomon Islands, Tuvulu or wherever her designer pump clad feet will take her -- and subsequently the obsessive media who as we now know will be following her every move and documenting accordingly. Which means of course that if she is bringing attention to an important social or political cause, the media will have no choice but to document that too. This is something her late mother-in-law Princess Diana learned, albeit a bit later in her royal life. She recognized the media was going to use her, so she decided to use them back. Calling much needed attention to issues like AIDS and landmines. Kate could take a cue from her, and I don't just mean in terms of pursuing the mantle of fashion icon.
When sports reporter Erin Andrews had her privacy violated like Middleton's (but worse, she was filmed) she didn't shrink away from her violation but instead came out swinging, becoming a valuable voice in the victims rights movement here in America.
Here's hoping that after this scandal Middleton will finally find her voice and use it to help others as well.
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