Myleene Klass: 'There's a horrible culture that criticises women all the time. It has to stop'

The presenter is moving on from her High Court divorce to campaign against attacks on women in the public eye

As a newly-divorced mother-of-two, Myleene Klass is getting used to standing up for herself. But with women-baiting turning into a national sport for some commentators, the classical musician-turned-fashion designer has decided to speak up, this week hitting out at the “horrid culture … that criticises [women] all the time”.

Her comments mark a growing unwillingness among female public figures to accept poisonous press coverage about them as an occupational hazard.

Klass called for less malevolent public debate, particularly from other women, and to “give every woman a break for Christ’s sake”. “Women are so good when they’re helping each other,” she said, “but there’s a horrible culture at the moment, which I do not buy into whatsoever, that criticises all the time … everyone has to stop telling [them] what to do.”

Her comments come after singer Katherine Jenkins was forced to defend herself against the vitriol of  the Daily Mail columnist Jan Moir, who had lambasted the singer for wearing “lashings of pink lip gloss, sooty false eyelashes [and having] her blonde hair pulled back into an immaculate ponytail”, while running 26.2 miles on behalf of Macmillan nurses, in memory of her dead father. That also followed the recent contempt heaped on the television presenter Claudia Winkleman for having, of all things, a fringe. Author Hilary Mantel and the classicist Mary Beard have also had criticism heaped on them recently, when male contemporaries would not have similarly suffered.

A self-declared “strident feminist”, Klass, 35, attacks the characterisation of strong professional woman as “bolshy, bossy, bitchy”, adding: “If they’re a guy, it’s just like, ‘Yeah, he’s strong.’ But if it’s a woman, they’re deemed [to have] male attributes. I look at the Beyoncés of the world and see the strides they’re making and how defiant and strong they have to be.”

Klass has found herself picked over in the pages of the press recently, after her short-lived marriage with long-term partner Graham Quinn broke down in dramatic fashion.

Legal reasons prevent her from discussing the break-up with Quinn, whom she met in 2001 when he was a bodyguard for pop group Hear’Say.

A High Court judge concluded that the marriage had “broken down irretrievably” and granted a decree nisi. Details of the settlement are being hammered out, but could see Klass lose a chunk of her estimated £12m fortune because there was no prenuptial agreement.

The treatment of women in public debate could have implications for young girls as they grow up, such as her daughters, Ava, five, and Hero, two, she said. “It will be very difficult to be a girl growing up in their generation,” she said. “They’re going to come from the generation of women that has it all. So they’re going to be the ones to decide where it all goes and was that the right thing. Or actually should they take a step back and re-evaluate?”

The split has left her as “mum and dad”, but she quickly adds that many others who cannot afford to employ the support she does are in a trickier situation.

She said: “I’m absolutely not a tiger mum. Of course, I want them to be the best they can be. What’s the point otherwise in surrounding them with strong female role models?”

Partly thanks to an opportune decision to wear a white bikini on the reality show I’m a Celebrity.... Get Me Out of Here, which led to her modelling for Marks & Spencer, Klass has found a second source of fame as a fashion designer – for Littlewoods and Mothercare.

Klass handles her clothing lines herself, jetting around the world for business meetings. On top of that, she presents two weekend shows for Classic FM and is contracted to the news network CNN.

“How do I fit it in? I always say that if I was going to create a new business I’d hire single working mums because I’d know that not only would it run smoothly and efficiently, we’d all be done by teatime because everyone has to get home to do the bath and bed.”

Hate messages: objects of scorn

Katherine Jenkins After running the London Marathon this month, raising £25,000, the 32-year-old singer was branded “smug” and “fame-hungry” for wearing make-up and designer sunglasses.

Mary Beard Following a turn on Question Time, the classicist suffered what she called “truly vile” abuse from online trolls that would “put many women off appearing in public”.

Hilary Mantel Became the victim of a hate campaign after she wrote about the Duchess of Cambridge. The Booker Prize-winning author said afterwards: “I have absolutely nothing to apologise for.”

Alexa Chung  Was forced to defend herself against accusations of being “too thin” last year after she uploaded a photo of herself with her mother. The TV presenter responded: “Ok everyone thanks for the teen angst discussions. People are different sizes. I’m not trying to be thinspo [a ‘thinspiration’] for anyone.”

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Geography Teacher

£24000 - £33600 per annum + pre 12 week AWR : Randstad Education Manchester Se...

E150/2014 - English Language Checker (Grade B3)

On Application: Council of Europe: The European Court of Human Rights’s judgme...

Marketing Executive

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Charter Selection: A professional services company ...

Project Manager - Bristol South West

£400 - £450 per day: Orgtel: Project Manager (PM), Key Banking Client, Retail ...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice