Some of my female friends, whom I admire and respect and like a whole lot, continue to express dismay over Miley Cyrus’ sexually provocative performance at the MTV’s Video Music Awards (VMAs). Across the Internet, some are labeling the performance as slutty, disgusting, and degrading to women. Funny thing is that I don’t feel at all degraded as a woman due to Cyrus’ romp on stage with Teddy Bears and Robin Thicke.
I’m too old to appreciate Miley Cyrus’ music but her performance style doesn’t offend me any more than Madonna did in her hey day. Recall that video where she crawled across the floor and lapped milk out of a bowl?
While I greatly appreciate and continue to like my female friends, I have to pose the following questions. Why is it that women are the first ones to turn on other women who are overtly sexual in their actions or appearance? We label these women as sluts, nasty, trashy — which just doesn’t sound very sisterly to me. What’s with this judgment that a woman who expresses her sexuality while performing on stage is behaving in a shameful way and any decent female should be ashamed of her and for her?
Michael Jackson grabbed his crotch and hoisted his junk in every performance. Even in the staid 1950s, Elvis gyrated his hips in a distinctly sexual manner, accompanied by pelvic thrusts. I can’t recall a single male performer whose overtly sexual performance has ever elicited the same type of need to express revulsion and disgust as Miley Cyrus has garnered for shaking her butt, thrusting her pelvis forward, and sometimes pointing at her crotch.
Why are we still defining women in terms of meeting some 1950s standard of ladylike behavior?
The Syrian government appears to have used chemical weapons against its own people but the big topic in the U.S. is that Miley Cyrus was twerking on television! Oh, the horror! She pointed at her crouch and did a slow grind a few times with Robin Thicke. Notice how there haven’t been any headlines labeling Robin Thicke as a slut, nasty, disgusting, or an embarrassment to his gender? Miley wasn’t on that stage alone.
Perhaps we need to step back and really think as to what the message is that we wish to convey. Do we really want to adhere to some arbitrary and outdated standard that divides women into good girls and sluts? All the 20-year-old Miley Cyrus did was express herself as a sexual being. She didn’t advocate for violence. She wasn’t an object; she was in control and she chose how to express herself. That’s a far cry from exploitation in my book. Just something to think about.
The Examined Life
Wednesday, 28 August 2013