Shame Day: Slut-Shaming Miley

Everyone remember when this happened?

Do you remember how it was followed by a whole lot of this?

slutshaming miley

And then there was also a lot of adults that started writing “open letters” to the poor “disturbed” Hollywood princess. Letters like this one from a concerned mom or this one from a celebrity website journalist . All of these letters say essentially the same thing as the tweets I shared above: “Miley, stop being such a slut.” Or, to put it in other words, stop selling your body in a context that doesn’t appeal to your public.

In her letter to Cyrus blogger Kim Bongiorno even explains the subtle difference between being slutty and being artistic by comparing Cyrus’ performance to Lady Gaga’s the previous year. Bongiorno argues that Gaga was able to sport her “strategically-placed seashells” and “flowery g-string” in a way that engaged the audience, while Cyrus’ performance made her look like nothing more than a “stomping vagina.”

I’m not saying I liked Cyrus’ performance. In fact, I managed to avoid actually watching the whole thing. The only reason I even found out about it is because articles concerning the performance were splashed all over every social media site I use. While I really didn’t like the performance I have some big issues with the way people are reacting to it.

For one, people need to stop being surprised when another Disney actress has an orchestrated exit from her childhood career that is completely centered around her sexuality. Seriously, stop believing that the Disney Channel is providing wholesome morals for your kids, because they really do not care about your morals. What they care about is making money. And when a female actress reaches a certain age she makes a heck of a lot more money by baring her body than by providing what appears to be”innocent” entertainment.

As the Oatmeal aptly explains, this was all intentional marketing.

We also need to stop pretending that Miley Cyrus was the only person involved in that performance. Her involvement may have been the most eye catching, but she wasn’t even the one who choreographed it. Nope, that masterpiece was coordinated by the same lady who choreographed Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines music video. 

Speaking of Thicke, where are all the concerned mother’s writing to Robin Thicke about his involvement in the performance?

I’ve really, really have tried to ignore Thicke. Don’t get me wrong, I really dislike the guy and have read some great articles that helped me form that opinion, like the one about how the lyrics to his song, “Blurred Lines,” are kinda rapey, or how Thicke thinks his song should be part of the feminist movement because it’s “great art” that is supposed to “stir conversation,” but I have read so many blogs on Thicke by feminists of every position that I felt like every angle I could possible discuss had already been covered. 

And yet, the double standard of the public reaction to the VMA awards is just too much to ignore. Cyrus is labelled as a slut, while married, 36 year-old, fully-dressed Thicke can grind the girl (who is young enough to be his daughter) right back and still be viewed by the public as some sort of victim in the whole thing

So today I want to shame the slut-shaming that happened after the VMA awards, and is continuing to happen to Miley Cyrus as her music video “Wrecking Ball” gains public attention. Not because I liked her performances, in fact I’d rather not watch either of them again, but because this is no different than anything else we have already seen in other music performances and videos. People are not slut-shaming Cyrus because she is using her body to sell her music, they are assigning her that label because she is doing it in a way that makes them uncomfortable. While featuring naked women in “Blurred Lines” is what made Robin Thicke cool, featuring herself naked in her own music video has made Cyrus’ slut-status official. 

So stop it. Stop blaming the newest “good girl gone bad” for a poor performance while ignoring the system that made that the only way she could get your attention. Maybe if female performers were treated a little more like male ones they wouldn’t always have to choose between being irrelevant or becoming everyone’s new favorite slut to shame.

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2 responses to “Shame Day: Slut-Shaming Miley

  1. Re: Your Comment About Disney

    For all that you can say about the company, and you really can say quite a bit, I don’t think it’s fair to connect them to the behaviour of their child stars after their contracts have already run out besides stating that said child stars having had to retain such clean public/personal [the two are largely the same for celebrities] lives somehow “drove” them to that.

    Disney isn’t responsible for what Demi Lovato or Miley Cyrus or Ashley Tisdale [who I was pretty surprised to see on the cover of Maxim a few months ago] do once they’re no longer in their employ [although the latter does still voice the older sister on Phineas and Ferb, she’s no longer using her physical presence to make money for them].

    They may not, deep down, really care about the morals of children the world over, but they are concerned about maintaining a certain public image and Miley’s behaviour both at the VMAs and otherwise definitely does not fall under that umbrella.

    My final thoughts are incredulity at Robin Thicke being the “real victim” at all of this and mild disappointment at your not spelling “favourite” the Canadian way.

    • Fair enough, Disney can’t be directly blamed for the choices their actresses make post-contract. The thing is, they are very much a part of the system that pressures women in media to capitalize on their body as their primary asset, as we see in their industry targeting little girls with princess culture. Obviously no direct blame can be laid at their feet, but they most certainly are a part of the system as a whole. You are right though, I probably should have pointed out that the change in the marketing image was not planned by Disney, but by whoever is managing Cyrus’s image.
      I am also deeply saddened by my spelling of favourite. I suppose I must turn into an American post-midnight.

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