There’s been a lot of talk about Queen Bey this week and what she means for twenty-first century feminism. The visceral responses to the album ranged from totally dissing her like Real Colored Girls, to rightfully praising her beauty on a level far beyond the aesthetics. But before Bey dropped her album a video started circulating highlighting the worst and best moments of 2013. Miley Cyrus’s performance at the VMA awards was considered a low point and embarrassment according to The Representation Project.
This is indeed a sad moment in our history if the women that purport to question the status quo go to considerable means to slut shame you. Instead of praising this young woman for her fierce as fuck feminism, remember post VMA’s when she had no hesitation to proclaim her feminism? unlike just about every other female pop star (Katie Perry, Taylor Swift, and Lady Gaga) most feminist media outlets were hesitant to defend her and when they did it was with a condescending tone.
Anne Holmes the editor of Jezabel.com went so far as describing Cyrus as pathetic on national TV no less and sat indifferently while the two other male guests also joyed in on the haters train one going so far as saying he preferred millennial’s be known for Mark Zuckerberg than Ms. Cyrus. Um I don’t think Marc Zuckerberg has the best track record for women’s advocacy Ms. Holmes.
Regardless of the cultural appropriation debate which is also part of a much larger racial cultural and feminist narrative, one I plan to touch upon in later posts, Miley Cyrus stole the show from Robin Thicke and everyone missed it. First off she initiating the song before he did sang his lyrics verbatim tweaked her beautiful ass right on his crotch and last but not least kissed him on the neck in a not so subtle way. There was a foam finger as well. He looked taken aback and just a little uncomfortable with such a shameless display of raunchiness and later claimed that it was all staged.
Um, does anyone remember the lyrics to the song? If I’m not mistaken it’s about “blurred lines”. Does anyone not see the irony here? She acted out the lyrics not just vocally but literally too. Let me script it this way sans savior fare. She made Robin Thicke her bitch. I don’t call that inappropriate. I call that karma. She was in complete and utter control of not only him but also her image her body and her morals. An image that was loud bold and raunchy questioning every good white girl axiom. Maybe people aren’t used to seeing a man sexually weakened by a woman including feminist. It’s so foreign to our eyes people don’t enough recognize it for what it is and it scares them. Think of Plato’s Cave and the prisoners.
Sex is about many things but one of the most important expressions of it is control. We are so used to seeing women as having little to no sexual agency that when she does she’s either a slut or a victim of the male gaze. One commentator was under the impression that Thicke was “dressed like a pimp and acted like he owned Cyrus and the other female performers.” Problem is there were no other female performers on the stage during the duet. Just Cyrus and Thicke.
Many rightfully mentioned the lack of criticism Thicke received but the only other commentary that ever hinted, beside Jezebel’s, at the ironic power dynamics was here along with a good bit of general narrative about the need for women to stop policing other women. Unfortunately her defense of Cyrus was outweighed by her sanctimonious tone and subversive judgement of her performance as an artistic failure because as we all know the VMA’S is such a seminal platform for highbrow culture. It’s just like the Met but for nice young people. Her performance wasn’t pretty and maybe that’s the point.
I have many regrets but one sticks out in particular. When I was in my early twenties I decided to wear a really provocative slutty strapless black dress for a night out on the town and completed the ensemble with some dare I say “ratchet” fuck-me-pumps. I really felt stunning and fuckable but before I left the house I grabbed a jacket that covered most of the dress. In the end I lost my nerve and decided to leave the jacket on for the entire evening even though it was in the middle of a Texas summer. I just couldn’t bring myself to take the jacket off. I didn’t want to be that girl aka a slut desperate for male attention and using her body for validation instead of her intelligence and resilience in the face of patriarchy. I would be letting down the sisterhood and all the feminist that came before me by lowering myself to slut status. Never mind that I felt invincible powerful and beautiful and in complete control of my body. My intrinsic slut was in competition with my logical good girl self and the latter won.
Most men don’t ask other men before going out do I look like a slut in this outfit unlike women. Nor should they. Little girls are made to understand that female sexuality must be expressed within a larger context and not on an individual level. Little girls clothing is consistently scrutinized for the slut sexy factor unlike their counterpart’s attire. Take a minute and think about the last time you heard parents complaining about boys clothing being too sexy and provocative.
Will Miley look back one day and regret some aspects of her youth? I would hope so. A life lived without regrets is a life best examined in the grave. Life shouldn’t happen in a vacuum including Cyrus’s much to the chagrin of her critics. She’s stepping out of comfort zones and fucking up along the way and that’s ok because that’s the way we learn. Instead of defending her feminists have thrown her under the patriarchic omnibus. She’s an easy target for all the things we don’t like to talk about.
We’ve been led to believe we live in a laissez-faire postmodern Foucault era where boundaries are only ostensibly questionable. If people aren’t permitted the autonomy and agency to express themselves in an unconventional ambiguous manner (and with due respect to others) societies stay stagnant with unforeseen consequences and to the detriment of us all. So Miley I’m proud of you and have no problem with my daughter looking up to you as a role model flaws and all and as for all the haters just tell them bow down bitches.