Thursday, August 29, 2013

Miley Cyrus and slut shaming...


I’ve read a lot of the articles about slut shaming and my feminist heart swells with outrage when I see girls being treated unfairly by the media and people at large. When it happens I have to acknowledge that yes, society’s long held prejudices are still there. That we live in a society where a sexual girl is a slut and a sexual boy is a player. Where a girl makes “the walk of shame” and a guy has earned a “notch in his bedpost” – (which really… so silly that.)

In my new favorite movie Pitch Perfect there is the wonderful moment where the leader of the Bellas asks one of the recruits to leave because she had sex with the enemy. As she’s walking out the door, head low, Fat Amy coughs into her hand… “Slut”. And clearly it’s the writer’s way of shining that light on all of us in a humorous way.  A wink to women everywhere that says we know we’re not really sluts and how ridiculous this shame we’re being forced to feel is.

Then comes along the VMA’s and Miley Cyrus’s performance. After all the kerfuffle of course I had to go watch and see for myself. Was this another case of “slut” shaming? Was she being persecuted for being sexual?
My answer… I don’t think so. I think it was over the top. I’m not blaming her completely. I absolutely think someone should have stopped it in rehearsal. Or told her to tone it down. While provocative is the word of choice at these music award shows, there was something just “icky” about what she was doing on that stage.

I wasn’t watching a woman own her sexuality. I was watching a woman degrading herself by making us believe the only talent she had was wrapped up in her sexuality.

I know people will point to the lyrics of Robin Thicke’s song and cry double standard. But that’s my point. I’ve never seen a man have to go out on that stage and do what Miley did to try and entertain. At least not outside of the movie Magic Mike. Robin Thicke didn’t have to walk out in a beige thong and stroke himself then bend over. He got to go out there fully dressed and just sing.

I wasn’t outraged by Miley’s routine. I wasn’t disgusted by her lewd behavior. I’m not calling her a slut.

I’m sad for her.

I’m sad that a twenty year old girl with a lot of talent is made to feel that she has to go out there and do that to attract attention. I’m sad that she sees herself not as an artist, but as a body that needs to be on display. I’m sad that whoever produced and directed that show watched that routine and said it was okay for her to do that. I’m sad that Robin Thicke thought it was okay to allow her to shake her butt in his crotch for the purpose of entertainment.

I remember watching Pink perform in a mesh costume that gave the appearance of nudity. She was proud and beautiful and delivered one of the most stunning live performances I’ve ever seen. That’s owning your sexuality. That’s putting your talent first. That’s showcasing who you are as a woman.

No, I’m not saying “Shame on you, Miley.” Instead I want to hug her and tell her that’s she more than that. I hope she believes in her heart that she’s more than that.

How about we let the really talented girls go out there and just sing. How about that?

6 comments:

Eileen said...

Yes, yes, yes, Steph. You are so very right. I have to admit, I don't really care about Miley Cyrus. But as a view into our overall culture? This stinks.

Girls are pressed into being/looking hyper-sexual from a very young age and then are shamed for it. How does that make sense? I'm still confused by it. Am I supposed to look hot? Or am I supposed to look modest?

Maureen McGowan said...

I agree with you, Steph... Something in the general public discussion and slut shaming is off...

I think we're blaming the victim in a strange way... I mean, it's the music industry and particularly male "artists" like Robin Thicke, who are responsible for objectifying women based on their sexuality...

I can see an argument that Miley was at least taking ownership of what male artists have already done to so many other women -- using the women and their bodies and sexuality to promote their (the men's) music. At least Miley was promoting herself.

But I don't completely agree with that argument (that I just made, LOL) because I don't get the impression that Miley was that aware of what she was doing. In a feminist sense, I mean. I think she was trying, once and for all, to break out of her little girl image. On the other hand, she has certainly done a good job of promoting herself! ;)

Maureen McGowan said...

I stumbled onto this great thought piece via twitter today.

About how everyone is saying, "Talk to your daughters about Miley!" when we should also be saying, "Talk to your sons about Robin!"

Misogyny stems from men, so talking to boys about this is perhaps even more important if the culture is ever going to change...

http://ericclapp.org/2013/08/28/how-to-talk-with-your-sons-about-robin-thicke/

Stephanie Doyle said...

Awesome point Maureen. And that's why I'm blaming Robin, the producer, the director of the show... anyone who watched her rehearsal and said... Yeah more of that!

Any who saw her on stage in that costume... and said perfect you basically look naked!

It's freaking 2013 and we're still so completely obsessed with women and their looks. Don't show too much, don't show too little.

Maybe it isn't about us anymore. Maybe it really is talking to boys and saying what Robin did was equally as disturbing as what Miley did.

Sinead M said...

I agree Steph, and on the other hand, the VMA producer knew exactly what she/he were doing? No one wants to produce a show that no one talks about and everyone has been talking about Miley this week.
It was a pretty shameful, sad way of drumming up controversy and they are basking in it. The only way of dealing is by changing the conversation to talk of artists that deserve to be talked about, women who write, and sing songs with conviction and with their clothes on.

Anonymous said...

"Maybe it isn't about us anymore. Maybe it really is talking to boys and saying what Robin did was equally as disturbing as what Miley did."

I agree. They are both wrong, both shameful, both objectifying. Sorry, but as a woman, I have a hell of a lot more respect for myself than that! I also have two daughters who I would never want to see putting on a performance anything like that! God help me!SLUT infers that a woman is sleeping around with every Tom, Dick, and Harry. I respected myself enough to not just hand my coveted body over to anyone at anytime. I valued myself enough to understand I needed trust, affection, safety, security, etc. before taking that step in a relationship. I was worth it! Any self respecting woman does not need to look hyper-sexual, show some worth for one's self or you will be shamed and rightfully so. I have always been modest (or at least see myself that way) and yet, I landed the most wonderful man I could have ever dreamed of sharing my life with who thinks I am HOT!!! That's utopia and I still have my pride!

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