Well, it won’t take much to figure out the topic of discussion this week.
My niece called and the conversation went like this:
Her: “OMG! Did you see it?!”
Me: “Did I see what?”
Her: “the VMAs”
Me: “What’s the VMAs?”
Her: Sigh “she was twerking and stuff”
Me: What’s a twerking? It sounds like some kind of sugar coated, glazed sweet. Do I still understand English, or do you for that matter?”
After a few more minutes like these, she explained things and naturally, I was better informed and significantly aged. So we chatted about what was going on, why it happened and what the commentary about it told us about how people view women, particularly those on the stage and in front of the press. But the thing is, actually, I found it all quite infuriating, as did my niece. Rightly she asked, why Miley can’t hold herself up to higher standards? She asked why nobody said anything about the men involved in any of this? And she asked why we hadn’t got to a place yet, where this is considered odd rather than painfully normal?
Here’s the deal, I both dislike and defend Miley for the stage show and the aftermath. Here’s why:
Don’t hate the player, hate the game:
The game being patriarchy. The rules of which Miley does not dictate, but an elite, privileged bunch within the man-half of the species. To say “She should have known better” or “It’s an insult to feminism”, is not only wrong but also underplays the realities of the industry she works in. The industry which encourages women to act as strippers and pieces of meat to be ogled at and displayed into the background whilst a male singer walks around fully clothed and usually singing about the sexual nature of his conduct with said women, regardless of their consent. Do we get this upset or this much outrage towards male singers? Why the unfair emphasis on Miley’s conduct? Which brings us neatly to Mr Robin Thicke. Or as I have described him, the creepy uncle who comes to family dinners, despite nobody inviting him and inappropriately asks about the details of your love life. VOM.
Fully clothed Robin Thicke had nothing negative written about him, he gestured and sang about rape culture, but that’s ok, cause he’s a dude, so that’s normal. In fact he believes it’s feminist. A suffragette just turned in her grave.
Speaking of others, what about the choreographers, the managers, the stage directors…did nobody else see the rehearsals and say “hey Miley, pal, you know I think you’re ace, but it seems you may be defining yourself through he narrow sights of patriarchy which forces women to conduct themselves as sexual objects to feel acceptance or self esteem. You don’t have to, if you don’t want to, and how about not grabbing the arses of the background black women you have chosen as dancers to give yourself credibility. That’s called appropriating black culture, and buddy, it’s not cool”
And finally, reading this made me want to defend her, just because it is so idiotic. Apparently the inventor of the foam finger is upset because he believes Miley Cyrus “degraded” the icon by her conduct with it. He is upset at a foam object being degraded. Let that sink in. Foam finger being degraded bad. Lifetime of women being degraded by the music industry effectively causing the monstrosity on our screens? Well, that’s A-OK! Gah.
No, I’ve changed my mind, blame the player:
Well, in this case, maybe a bit.
See whilst doing the reading on this I came across Miley’s tweet on it all quoting her Dad:
‘Mile, if twerkin woulda been invented…. And I had a foam finger…. I woulda done the same thang you did.’ – DAD,”
Seriously? No, that says to me someone who gets what’s going on (enough to need to justify it) and just doesn’t care. Well Miley you’re far from the Disney child star, You’re a grown adult and with that comes responsibilities and choices and from where I’m standing you chose sexual objectification. I’m not really interested in all of the “this is a form of sexual liberation, and is part of feminism”, It’s not. Sex and sexuality are part of feminism, objectification is one of the cornerstones of patriarchy feminism is fighting, and what happened on that stage meant Miley endorsed the objectification of her and other women celebrities. She didn’t just endorse it she took on a man-attitude and objectified other women.
Equally, I don’t buy the argument that she was somehow “sticking it to the industry” by playing men at their own game. She didn’t and it wasn’t any form of empowering. I’m pretty sure she gave every man who refers to women as “bitches or hos” or enjoys the music industry just the way is, everything he was looking for. It was their gratification Miley, not yours.
Whilst I don’t believe that women should be held up to a higher standard than men (we all grow up and are influenced by the society we live in), celebrities can’t help but be put under a spotlight and created into role models, responsibility comes with that. Like it or not.
Well, now that I have argued with myself, whilst my niece listened in concerned silence, I conclude with this; Miley’s display was a poor choice, but a choice made from a very narrow selection in the first place. Miley’s need to be edgy and sell, won the battle for patriarchy, but by more of us saying no to it, the war is still up for grabs.