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If there’s something I don’t want to do – it’s join the public shaming frenzy of Miley Cyrus’ performance in the VMAs (and her new song and image). But there are still some things I want to say about this issue.

First of all, let’s all take a minute and think about how racist her performance and her video are, instead of just focusing on how much of her butt showed.

Second of all, yes, Miley Cyrus, like any other person in this world, should be free to do what ever she wants with her body and her sexuality. The whole uproar about her being “slutty” or whatever else people are saying is sexist and annoying and would never be said about a man and should never be said about anyone. But this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t think critically about what’s going on with her and with this story.

This performance (or her recent video) is not really about personal expression. Cyrus didn’t wake up one day and decide “hmmm what should I do next? Maybe wear really short pants, twerk, and grind with Robin Thicke.” Miley Cyrus, the superstar that she is, has people whose job it is to decide what her next song should be, what she should wear in her next video, how she should dance and basically how every detail of her life should look like in order to become more famous and make more money. There are no mistakes, no improvising, it’s all carefully thought out and planned, and not by her. “We Can’t Stop” was written by (surprise) a man, with additional help from Cyrus and… 5 other men (it takes a lot of people to write such a masterpiece). This is not simply a young woman exploring her sexuality and her image as a good girl; this is a business. It’s not a mistake, it’s not an adventure, it’s not growing up gone wrong; it’s an intentional act meant, as I said, to make more money.

I do think that her age has a lot to do with it, but not just because she’s going a little nuts like everyone does at some point. Let’s take a second and think about the fact that she is 20 years old. 20, as in can’t drink yet, as in born in (the end of) 1992, as in college sophomore age. Think about someone you know who is 20, and imagine them being as famous as Cyrus and trying to negotiate getting older. It’s nuts. I’m not trying to be ageist, it’s just that most of us are lucky enough to be able to do some dumb shit in the process of getting to know ourselves without having it be live broadcasted to the whole world and without anyone trying to make bank off of it. Growing up is a great and confusing process, but the important thing is that when we think about the number of people who carefully plan Cyrus’ career and who are financially dependent on it, it’s hard not to think that maybe someone (or someones) chose to take advantage of her age and her stage in life in order to make more money.

In addition, the real disturbing part of Cyrus’ performance (in addition to her usage of women of color as props) was her little duet with Robin Thicke. Mind you, this is a (married) 36 year old man, 16 years older than Cyrus, who quite literally could be his daughter. Now she gets to use her sexuality and her coming of age not only to make more money for herself and her producers/agents, but also for Thicke and his peeps. How very lucky.

You’d think that in this huge production there would be at least one person who would say “Hey, maybe we shouldn’t have a 20 year old in her underwear grind on a 36 year old man and play with a huge foam finger between her legs as he sings about her being a ‘good girl’ and says ‘you know you want it’. Just maybe!” But apparently there wasn’t, and it’s not an accident; it worked perfectly. This performance is the only thing anyone talks about regarding the VMAs; thousands of people wrote, tweeted, or just freaked out about it, and Miley Cyrus’ name, pictures, and gifs are everywhere. The only thing is that now she’s being called a slut who is out of control because she’s 20, but no one bothers to say anything about the people who carefully orchestrated this performance and Cyrus’ recent endeavors. No one even seems to have a problem with Thicke’s part in it, the 36 year old man who felt great about grinding with a girl almost half his age, wearing less than 10% of the fabric he’s wearing (talk about the double standard…). He’s not a slut. The only important thing is that Miley Cyrus is a slut and look how ridiculous she looks and how she’s embarrassing herself. Pretty much sexism 101; tell a woman she needs to do these certain things to get famous, and then shame and mock her for doing them, while not mentioning all the men who pushed her that way and facilitated (and participated in) the whole thing.

I’m not gonna lie, watching this performance kinda made me feel like I’m watching the end scene of a movie about the demise of a pop star, where a young singer is walking around the stage being confused and out of it, and then passes out to the surprise of the confused audience, teaching all of us a lesson about the price of fame. But we have to remember that this is not really about Cyrus herself; she is not just a college student going crazy on the weekend. This is about how the music industry uses every aspect of women’s lives, bodies, and sexualities in order to benefit off of their careers, and then lets them take all the fire for being sluts, dumb, shallow, crazy, and other endearing terms that the public and the media throws at them. The producers, agents, and Robin Thickes just get to smoothly walk away with all the money and none of the public shaming.

 

 

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Edit:

Just to let you all know, I’m not going to approve comments that call me or other women names, that slut-shame, and that try to explain to me how free women are to do whatever they want and not be sluts. The whole world and the whole internet world is there for you to be sexist and roam free, so please keep it out of this one place. Thanks.

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