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Female empowerment or internalised sexism? Danish moral threshold tested by UCPH rhetoric student and young conservative politician. So much for her politics, the media concentrates on her other attributes
Nikita Klæstrup poses for the camera in the Odd Fellows Mansion banquet hall in a confident pose, with her hand on her hip and impeccable makeup. Her hair is pinned up with a few curls framing her face.
The occasion was the Young Conservatives’ 110 year anniversary, and the provocative element here is Nikita’s dress: a black, floor-length model, with the textile split open above the navel, leaving a substantial section of bare skin visible between the breasts.
Nikita studies rhetoric at the University of Copenhagen. She was surprised when, a few days after the event, the Danish media came calling.
On the Danish TV programme Aftenshowet, the revealing dress was displayed on a mannequin in the background, and the hosts of radio channel P3 discussed Nikita’s side-boobs and under-boobs.
The old Conservative Party’s anniversary did not really form part of the discussion. In fact, she was only asked one single question about the party, says Nikita. And it was in the last minute on Radio 24/7. Otherwise, it was all about the dress, her skin and her breasts.
It is not the first time Nikita appears in the media, because she is both pretty and politically active: During the local elections in 2013, she was voted Denmark’s election babe by newspaper BT. The many beauty-votes did not translate to personal votes in the municipal ballot boxes, however.
Considering how many people know Nikita Klæstrup, there are few who know anything about her political stance. But she does regularly participate in the political debate by writing letters-to-the-editor and comments. To the University Post she says that women are shamed for dressing sexually and acting sexually and are denigrated for looking beautiful.
Political branding expert Kresten Schultz-Jørgensen said to Danish newspaper Metroxpress that the attention she gets is not necessarily bad for Nikita’s political career.
On the contrary, he says, it helps sharpen her profile. So if she wants to stand for a modern, open-minded conservativism, it is not a bad idea to wear a daring dress.
Nevertheless, Nikita has not only received acclaim for her choice of dress. On Facebook, many believe that the dress makes the politician appear frivolous and downright stupid.
Is the dress a sign of female empowerment or is its wearer the victim of internalised sexism?
The Facebook community disagrees on whether Nikita is trying to garner the media attention that her political views fail to attract or whether the public is turning Nikita’s cleavage into the center of a political debate where it clearly does not belong?
As a rhetoric student, Nikita is fully aware of her communicative toolkit.
And she believes that she can appropriately use herself as an example of a political rhetoric where you cannot disregard the fact that female politicians may well be vain and good-looking while nevertheless being intelligent.
‘We cannot escape the fact that it sells. There is a natural focus on women’s appearance. That’s just how it is’, says Nikita, who is not planning to choose a different style of dress for the next party.
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