It’s fair to say that my musical tastes don’t align with MTV. While I don’t mind pop, I also don’t seek it out, so the VMAs aren’t exactly a “thing” with me. I don’t watch them and I don’t care about them.
But considering the overwhelming clusterfuck that was my Twitter and Facebook feed last night — well — I feel like I might as well have watched them.
You see, apparently Miley Cyrus did some things. By “some things” I mean perform on stage, the way many other performers have. Except, of course, there was some sexuality thrown in.
The result is an endless tirade of bullshit being flung at Cyrus. She’s a slut. A whore. A good ol’ jezebel. Oh, and she’s ugly. And fat. And her butt is gross. As is the rest of her body.
There are problems with this. Let me list them.
Other lady performers (Gaga, for example), can literally parade around nude (and semi-nude at award shows) and not an eyebrow is raised. But Miley — that’s different. Miley is supposed to be the virginal pop starlet, she’s supposed to be the good down home gal, playing country guitar and singing folksy songs about… shit, I don’t know, cows or something. But when she breaks this narrative — when she dares, as a 20-year-old woman, to show her sexuality (in a flamboyant way, no less!) she is decimated.
This young adult performer is, apparently, not supposed to be like that. She’s supposed to be a role model for young girls — and lord knows that the only thing they should learn about sexuality is that it’s for men and bad and no no no no no~
What the fuck, feminist friends?
I’m going to be honest — I don’t really care about Cyrus at all. I don’t. I can’t. I did not care at all about any of this until I saw some of the responses my (otherwise) feminist friends were making — everything from “that shouldn’t be on TV!” to critiques of her body.
Why. Why. Why.
Instead of going after the potential cultural appropriation issues, instead of going after the system that might make Cyrus feel like she has to sexualize her act to make money, instead of talking about Robin Thicke, instead of talking about the dwindling musical relevance of MTV… we get this?
How does that logic work?
“Objectification is bad! But totes not if we don’t like the woman in question!”
Which brings me to…
The sound of the entire ocean cascading over the heads of everyone both patting Justin Timberlake on the head while simultaneously tearing into Cyrus.
Yes, yes. NSYNC is back.
On one hand, you criticize a lady who — by her own agency — decided to do something sexual in a performance on an adult show on an adult network.
On the other, you forget that the group (of men) you are cheering literally made their names on sex. What, did you think NSYNC was totally about… like, what? JT sells what, exactly?
Did you think Giddy Up was about horses? Did you think Let’s Take a Ride was about a wonderful drive through the enchanted forest?
Did you think FutureSex was talking about, shit, god, can you see the problem — do I have to continue? Can we remember — during a certain Super Bowl appearance — who helped a nip to slip? Man, who did that controversy fall on? I bet it totally was evenl–
Finally, let’s just step aside for a moment and acknowledge that yes, there is potentially a problem if women feel that they are forced to sexualize themselves in order to “make it.” That is serious shit. That’s something to write about.
But, here’s the thing — when you are writing about it, when you are talking about it in a serious way — you don’t target the woman who is the victim of the complex. You target THE COMPLEX.
And if you handwave all of this away under the guise of “it’s just good fun! cultural touchstones!” then realize you are basically the guy in the back of the room saying “it’s just a joke!” or “it’s just a MEDIATYPEHERE!”
Likewise, if you critique Cyrus by calling her a whore/slut/pr0n*/whathaveyou, you are basically saying “hey, sexuality is bad unless it is on our terms*.” Also, slutshaming. That’s a thing.
Basically you’re part of the problem, stop it.
Or, for a more philosophical angle — take a lesson from Foucault. If everyone around you is screaming the same things, maybe you should consider why they are screaming those things, and understand the social methodology that makes you feel obligated to do the same.
* — Whatever conservative, straight, white cis-gendered male middle-America is comfortable with.