On Miley and Misogyny

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In the first semester of my last year at university, I took a Gender Studies class. It definitely helped shape the way I view gender and sexuality and all that other super interesting stuff that people really should talk about more. Then in my second semester, I took a class called Disney Studies. You might think that taking the classes in this order has ruined Disney for me, but it hasn’t. I understand that Disney can be a little problematic at times, but they started making feature films in the 1930s, and of course society then was very different to nowadays. But I don’t even want to talk about Disney– I want to talk about life after Disney, in particular, Miley Cyrus.

First of all, I get why people are complaining that she’s been a little risqué, especially when the Disney Channel are still playing repeats of Hannah Montana. She is bound to still have younger fans. But she’s a twenty year old girl, of course she’s going to want to shed her child star image. As far as I’m aware, she’s not even signed to Disney anymore. So it’s really not up to her to keep acting like Miley Stewart or Hannah Montana for the sake of your children. It’s up to you to parent them, not a celebrity they may or may not like. If you think that seeing Miley twerk, pose naked in a music video, or talk about drugs is gonna corrupt your kids, you’re probably not doing the best job of parenting. Just like me watching violent and scary movies as a kid hasn’t turned me into a serial killer, seeing celebrities I like party or take their clothes off hasn’t made me want to do the same either. I made my own choices, television didn’t decide for me.

But it’s not all about the parents. Even people in the same generation as Miley are criticising her– but this is a much wider problem that I’m not going to get into. I’m sure everyone has done something embarrassing or questionable at one point in their adolescent or young adult lives, and just because yours didn’t take place at the VMAs doesn’t make it any less awful. Miley grinded on Robin Thicke. Yep. One my my best friends once grinded on a guy from our college and everyone found it awkward and hilarious, but no one started an Internet hate campaign about her. My problem with this is, if you think Miley grinding on Robin is wrong… why isn’t it bad that this thirty-six year old married man with a three year old kid is rubbing his junk on a twenty year old girl? Because guys can do that? Because they’re supposed to get laid as often as they can? When women can only be a virgin or a slut with no in between? I’m not saying I condone what Miley did, but I’m also not saying I’m against it. It’s her body and her choices, and I shouldn’t have an opinion on it. And neither should you.

But the VMAs and We Can’t Stop are old news, right? Now everyone’s talking about Wrecking Ball, which I think is a pretty awful video, but not because she takes all her clothes off. And I understand what people are saying about how being naked shows how vulnerable she is, and I get that, I really do (I did an English degree, making up ridiculous meanings is what I do). And it was directed by Terry Richardson, so of course she was gonna be naked. Miley can be naked all she wants, especially when she looks so damn good without any clothes on. But besides that, Wrecking Ball was Miley’s obligatory tortured-soul-love-ballad, which has become something of a right of passage for former child stars. And before she takes her clothes off, Miley is wearing a very simple white outfit with minimal makeup. Sound familiar? Yeah, of course it does, Demi Lovato did it in Skyscraper two years ago. I like that video better, but again, it’s not because Miley’s naked. Are we getting the general idea of this post yet? If Miley wants to be naked, then let her be naked. Admittedly, when she starts licking the sledgehammer, things get a little weird. And even me and my BA in Bullshit find the ‘oooooh it’s because she loves the pain he causes her’ excuse a little thin. But I’m not saying she’s an abomination, or a slut, or anything else. I just don’t get it, and that’s okay.

Miley obviously wants to break free of her Disney image, and that’s totally normal and we should respect that and stop telling her she has younger fans. Because she’s always going to have younger fans, so when does it stop? Demi was a Disney star; now she has a successful music career, is a judge on the X Factor, and plays a gay character on Glee. Selena Gomez was a Disney star in the same era too, she even guest starred on Hannah Montana; then she played a party girl in Spring Breakers and released a new album just before Miley is releasing hers. I actually like the video to Come & Get It a lot more than Wrecking Ball and We Can’t Stop, but like I keep saying, that’s not because of the clothes she’s wearing. Selena could have easily done that video in a cute little underwear set like Miley did and I still think it would be a better child-star-transitioning-to-adult-video than what Miley created.

I’m still not really sure what the point of this blogpost was, as I don’t think I’ve really contributed that much to the discussion. But I keep seeing all these Miley Cyrus arguments pop up on my Twitter and Facebook feeds and I find myself writing the same defence replies each time, something that is quite hard to do in 140 characters. I in no way consider myself an expert in feminism or any of the gender arguments that float about in today’s society, I just like to think that I’m an okay human being who doesn’t judge people for how they choose to express themselves artistically based on years of patriarchal propaganda. However, I also don’t want people to think that my love of Miley Cyrus has blinded this post– because I really did not like Sonny With A Chance, but openly admit that Skyscraper is a better song than Miley’s new stuff. Disney Channel bias aside, I just think people should stop judging each other.

If you don’t like her music that’s fine, but you really don’t need to call her a slut, because it makes you sound like a misogynist 😀

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Author: Rosanna Parrish

Brit exiled in Spain.

2 thoughts on “On Miley and Misogyny”

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