On Friday 12 July, something wonderful happened. It was Amanda Palmer "going for broke" in an open, naked letter to the Daily Mail. The singer-songwriter made the performance as part of her set at the Roundhouse in Camden, delighting the audience with her comedic Waltz which confronted the Daily Mail for their sexist reporting on her appearance at Glastonbury.
Palmer used the letter as a chance to respond directly to the Mail's article which focused almost exclusively on her appearance on stage and failed to make any comment about her musical performance. The article declared that Palmer "made a bit of a boob of herself" following an accidental exposure of her breast and then went on to discuss the singer's outfit. Palmer's witty critique of the tabloid contained the quip that the recent Glastonbury photos are "hardly exclusive", due to the availability of images of her breasts online.
The letter-in-song highlighted the Daily Mail's misogyny, discussing the relentless media coverage of women's bodies and asking, "Where are the newsworthy cocks?" Palmer lamented, "Dear Daily Mail, it's so sad what you tabloids are doing, your focus on debasing women's appearance devolves our species of humans."
Towards the end of the letter, Palmer parodied the Mail's caption that declared that her "breast escaped her bra" with the line "it appears that my entire body is currently trying to escape this kimono." Palmer then proceeded to illustriously unwrap and throw off her kimono, unleashing her body to screams of support from the Roundhouse audience. Such a reaction was provoked that it prompted Palmer to tell the audience, "Shh, it's just a naked woman."
And that's where Palmer has got it exactly right. As well as realising the power of small acts of resistance against the status quo, she acknowledges the hypocrisy of the prevalence of the exposed female body in a society that is so unaccepting of the normality of the naked breast of a woman. Palmer celebrates those "who are perfectly willing to see breasts in their natural habitat", rebutting the Mail's attempt to sensationalise her own body.
This open naked letter makes a point similar to that of Hollie McNish's spoken word poem "Embarrassed", which expresses the shame she felt in the face of the attitude that a mother shouldn't breast-feed in public. McNish recounts the struggle of coping with the absurd societal consensus that makes "female breasts banned, unless they're out just for show", which is the reality "in this country of billboards covered in tits."
And it is these absurdities and hypocrisies that what is arguably the fourth-wave of feminism seeks to overcome. Social media provides a platform both for individuals to make small-scale contributions to the drive for gender equality and for larger enterprises such as the No More Page 3 campaign.
Over a week since the performance, Palmer has received no reply from the paper. The letter itself predicted this with the line: "I know that because I've addressed you directly I've made myself no fun to fight." By challenging the reporting, Palmer has not only highlighted an important double-standard in the acceptability of exposed female bodies, but she has also effectively silenced their sexist coverage of her. The audience, in situ and online, share in Palmer's impassioned response to the Daily Mail and their sexism as she finishes her letter: "Dear Daily Mail, Up Yours."