But I urge you to stick around, it might make you think about things a little bit differently. If not for that, at least wait until I use phrases such as ‘twerktacular’ and ‘heavy breathing commentary’. Also look out for me attempting to use ‘correct grammar’ and failing miserably. I’ve just started a MA in Journalism and apparently having a firm grasp on the English language is important or something.
So, in case you haven’t been following the Miley Cyrus twerktacular as closely as I (my interest is purely for research purposes and therefore trawling gossip sites is a totally legitimate use of my time) stuff has been happening. Basically Sinead O’Connor off of the nineties wrote Miley an open letter telling her to cover up her lady bits FOR THE SAKE OF WOMANKIND. To summarise, Sinead reckons that Miley is being played like a tiny nude puppet in the game of universal patriarchy. In other words, she may think she’s in control and liberated but she is in fact simply the victim of an over-sexualised culture which is using her to make lots of money for The Man.
Now, if I had to give it a percentage (and lord knows I’m fantastic at maths) I’d say I’d agree with about 40% of Sinead’s wafflings. The other 60% is simply patronising and, actually, potentially dangerous. I shall explain.
I was recently asked to partake in a live discussion on BBC World Service’s ‘World Have Your Say’ due to my recent article about Miley. When I managed to get a word in edge ways past a lady shouting ‘WHAT ABOUT THE KIDS’ repeatedly, I gave my reasons for supporting her performance. My thoughts on the issue were thus; we live in a truly hypocritical society and the public reaction to her VMA performance is simply slut shaming en masse. By this I mean, we live in a society in which Lad’s Mags fill our supermarkets and pornography infiltrates our entire lives and yet we are OUTRAGED by a woman cavorting on stage in a skimpy outfit. And to clarify, no I do not think the platform she used for this ‘transition’ was suitable due to the average age of the viewers. I also do not agree with the fact women in the public eye feel like they MUST participate in, what seems to be, a competition to see who can wear the least and simulate sex with the most gusto. Because let’s face it, I don’t see any of their male counterparts doing the same. But I found it both amusing and disturbing that the public (eg. the media, social media, actual real people) suddenly became so adamant that Miley was either mental or a big ol’ slut.
If you’ve read any of my previous blog posts (and if so- THANKS) you may at this point be scratching your head saying ‘waaaaaait, but I thought she is all anti Page 3- so why not anti Cyrus?’ Take it or leave it, the way I see it is this. People flipping love sex. It is pervasive. We want to watch it, read about it, talk about it. But the thing is, people only really love sexuality when it comes in a neat little package of socially acceptable barriers. Humans are funny little creatures; we don’t like things that are new. New is scary, new is a threat. People like the female form when it appears when we want it to, preferably packaged into a credible (LOL) newspaper where we can tell ourselves it’s ‘part of our culture’. We like the way the woman stands there, not saying anything, just showing us the goods. It’s uncomplicated and expected. Things we don’t appreciate are women (who we’ve already put into the ‘good girl’ category) storming on stage in nude latex underwear and short nineties hair doing unspeakable things with a foam finger. And we wonder why she’s embarrassing uber gent Robin Thicke in such a way – ‘I don’t remember the girls in the video doing that!’
As a culture we like women who fit gracefully into the realms dictated by the male gaze. We like pretty, sexy women with flowing hair and nothing much to say. Miley is not one of these women (anymore) and it makes us feel confused, angry and ultimately, threatened.
Now, personally I don’t find seeing a woman dance around half naked empowering and/or liberating (there’s the 40%) but I think we start edging towards dangerous ground if we, a la Sinead, start dictating what women should wear and how they should act. The Sun tells us we should be voiceless sex objects in one breath (Page 3) and tells Miley to cover up in the next. The Daily Mail critiques Muslim women for wearing the Hijab on the one hand yet the Sidebar of Shame makes its feelings about women’s ‘revealing’ outfits pretty clear with its heavy breathing commentary. Even though Sinead’s letter made me slightly queasy, the discourse it’s creating makes me feel like maybe people are starting to see the shiny feminist light. So, carrying on in the vein of telling women what to do (I’m allowed), perhaps we should start with DO WHATEVER YOU WANT. Because, frankly, as long as you can deal with yourself late at night, do whatever the hell makes you happy. For me? It’s dying my hair ginger and dressing like a glorified grandma.