Can We Stop Slut Shaming Miley Cyrus, Already?

The uproar over Miley Cyrus' performance at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards is more slut shaming than anything of substance.

Miley Cyrus at the 2013 Video Music Awards, just before her performance

Miley Cyrus poses at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, just before her performance. (Source: Reuters)

Every year, MTV attempts to maintain some degree of importance in pop culture by hosting its Video Music Awards.  Given that the channel rarely if ever shows music videos, the VMAs are kind of an absurd spectacle, like watching a sports award show on A&E.  Of course, given its audience of teenagers and early twenty-somethings and the country's fear of sex, its obvious intent is to shock or titillate, and last year's was kind of weak if I recall correctly (sorry, Passion Pit).  So, a ruckus came about through former child star Miley Cyrus' performances, with her twerking during her hit single "We Can't Stop" and grinding against pop star of the season Robin Thicke during their duet of smash hit "Blurred Lines."  Consequently, every media outlet that tried to exert Moral Authority painted the scenes as obscene, and implied heavily that Miley Cyrus, a former child star, was a slut in doing that.

Under normal circumstances, the scenes are easy to ignore.  But the outrage that everyone is exerting over this scene, which is a stupid and boring performance to begin with, is disturbing in that nearly everyone with any influence is painting Miley Cyrus as this sick perverted villain.  First things first, the act itself really is boring, when we take things into consideration.  Miley is merely following a booming internet fad in twerking, which has so many YouTube videos that a person could survive a month off them.  That she is doing it on the VMAs demonstrates that MTV was giving what teens wanted:  Something that hints at sex.  There is nothing new or interesting to report on this, and every time people complain about it, it simply goes to show America's fear of sex and sexuality.

Secondly, and more importantly, however, why are we suddenly treating Miley Cyrus as a slut?  Really, where's the outrage that Robin Thicke, already a scumbag for other reasons, was acting incredibly creepy during the duet (which, all things considered, he kind of was)?  This slut shaming is absurd for all the wrong reasons.  People have obsessed over Miley's career, like all child stars, under some stupid notion of purity and innocence, which has long been an unfortunate trait in American culture as a whole.  This depraved obsession with purity is what is denying Miley the right to perform as a woman with any open displays of sexuality, leading her to go over the top.

Granted, there may be unfortunate reasons as to why Miley Cyrus would act out this way.  But that is not relevant to this discussion.  Regardless of the reasons why Miley Cyrus decided to grind herself against Robin Thicke, an act that the latter's wife was perfectly okay with, the fact is this act is really insignificant, and that we treat it as obscene and Miley as a slut is idiotic and despicable.  By allowing media outlets to shame Miley Cyrus, they reinforce the notion that slut shaming, a more disgusting act than twerking ever can be, is perfectly okay.  Miley Cyrus was not debased, or debasing women for that matter.  Everyone else was.

This howl of slut shaming comes ironically after a more feminist spin of the VMAs took hold.  The pre-show was co-hosted by rising pop star and ardent feminist Grimes, who brought on influential rock star Kathleen Hanna, and talked a lot about feminism's role in pop music.  Odds are, the two musicians probably did not care much about Miley's performance, since it really was uninteresting, much like the rest of her music.  There is really nothing to be said about this performance.  That we have created a storm of anger out of this scene shows our own contempt of women in acting out any form of sexuality, regardless of its excess.

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