And no, it’s not because I love her new hair. (Which I do, FYI).
For those of you not rebellious enough to break your school night curfew to watch the VMAs on MTV like myself last night (I know, I’m wild) it truly was a sight for sore eyes. To sum up, Miley unleashed a performance provocative enough to make her former alias Hannah Montana weep. She cavorted on stage in, for the majority, a nude PVC bikini and did some unpalatable things with a giant foam hand. But the most repulsive thing about this performance for me wasn’t even the involvement of Robin Thicke.
But more on that vom gremlin later.
No, for me, the thing that I found really disturbing was actually the internet furore of Miley hate which subsequently followed her performance. That might seem slightly absurd to those who watched ol’ Miley gyrate against Thicke’s crotch and are still trying to scrub themselves clean, but hear me out.
The abuse she received mostly targeted -SHOCK- her looks and how much of a ‘slut’ she is. Just searching Miley Cyrus in the ‘Discover’ part of twitter and you will become faced with a deluge of comparisons to aliens, giraffes and uncooked turkey. Thousands of comments about what a ‘vile, disgusting creature’ she is and how she is no longer ‘beautiful and classy’ like in her Disney days. And look, I’m not saying I totally condone her choice of outfit; let’s call a spade a spade, it was shit. But is that any reason to criticise her body shape, her talent, her moral integrity? This is just slut shaming on a whole new level. And it’s scarily contradictory. I’m not going to sit here and suggest that I would personally like to adorn myself in PVC and frolic on stage simulating sex acts- MTV keep ignoring my suggestions anyway- but what on earth distinguishes Miley from Lady Gaga in her thong? Or, I don’t know, the half naked women in Robin Thicke’s brazen misogyny party ‘Blurred Lines’?
I’m sure the people who were all up in arms about Miley didn’t bat an eyelid about the Blurred Lines fiasco. All I ask is that you at least keep the rage consistent, people.
I do feel at this point I should state for the record, your honour, that I do not think Miley getting all naked and stuff was a good idea. In fact, I would hasten to add that it gives the wrong impression to young men. (Yes, I said men- not young ‘impressionable’ women. Infantilising women does not interest me). Because, well, for one I don’t want boys getting the idea that every item of a woman’s wardrobe is fitted with a handy Velcro fastening for impromptu raunch. (Sorry to burst that bubble, guys). But more importantly, I don’t think it’s helpful for men to think they can swan around a la Robin Thicke (fully dressed) thinking all women actually deep inside REALLY want to sleep with them and we’re just waiting to whip off all this cumbersome clothing.
Let’s be honest, what would’ve been really shocking is if ANY of the men at the VMA’s had ripped off their suits and ‘twerked’ in some PVC. Now that I would like to see.
I feel I should also add that although Miley is well within her rights to throw off the shackles of her wholesome Disney image (if that’s what truly makes her happy) she might be better off doing it behind closed doors because, no, I do not think it was an appropriate platform considering the target audience. I don’t even think it was necessary given her talent and multi-million pound revenue. (I also think the involvement of the fully dressed men kind of undermines any female emancipation aspect). But that’s beside the point.
Yes, the point I’m trying to make- in a somewhat meandering fashion, sure- is that Miley has become the modern day personification for the age old virgin/whore dichotomy. Freud, bless his cottons, first introduced this concept as a means to explain why men sorta hate/ fear but also kind of lust after women. It’s a societal construct which basically splits women into two camps depending on the extent they adhere to social values. So you’re either a virginal/well behaved ‘good’ woman (Hannah Montana) or a slutty ‘bad’ woman (Mrs Twerk AKA Miley Cyrus). Women are not supposed to express themselves sexually- whereas men can revel in the glory of stud-dom if they so choose- and if women have the audacity to disobey, well, if you’re Miley Cyrus you’ve got a pretty big twitter backlash on your hands.
[Oh and not to mention a pretty disgusting rap by Eminem who seems to think wanting to kill Miley over her performance is an acceptable reaction. Worryingly, plenty of twitter users seem to agree. I didn’t realise you felt so strongly about the objectification of women, Eminem? All those scantily clad women in your videos must be exceptions to the rule then I guess.]
Pretty funny how we live in a society in which ‘sex sells’, we have strip clubs inhabited by men from every walk of life, ‘lads’ magazines still litter the aisles of our supermarkets and girls dance around topless in our favourite music videos but when a popstar makes the transition from wholesome household name to overt sexual expression at an awards ceremony everyone questions her mental stability. I say funny, what I really mean is it’s a confusing, hypocritical non-sequitur. Miley no longer fits into society’s neat little package of ‘acceptable womanhood’ and we hate it. And how best to put a woman back in her place? Attack her appearance.
Could it be that we are simply threatened by a woman who expresses herself in such an obnoxiously sexual way? Just a thought.