Sunday, December 29, 2013

Miley Cyrus - a new kind of feminism?

My reaction to Miley’s twerking debacle, that tongue, and her naked Wrecking Ball music video, was shock. These scenes were confronting. When Miley called herself a feminist, I initially scoffed, ‘she’s not a feminist, she’s a victim of pop culture.’ But Miley has made me think. I’m 46. Perhaps my concept of feminism is a bit old-school.

Photo courtesy of AprilPix Photography
Women were once objectified. The program Mad Men reminded us just how bad it was for women a few decades ago. In a mans’ world, instead of being appreciated for their skills and creativity, young women were expected to be pleasing to look at. They were sex objects; play things for men.

Mad Men
The media’s ongoing portrayal of young women as sex objects was a key issue feminists sought to overturn. So when a scantily clad Miley Cyrus twerked into Robin Thicke’s crotch and sat naked on a wrecking ball, I thought she was undoing all the progress the feminist movement had made. But was she?

Thicke’s music video Blurred Lines shows ‘cute’ naked women being ogled by sharp-dressed men. Now that is disturbing from a feminist perspective. But when Miley is on stage with Thicke, she is the personification of attitude and she uses Thicke as a prop. Miley and her moves, whether we approve of them or not, express brazen self-empowerment rather than female victimization. 

It seems feminism has moved into new territory where women are claiming their sexuality and their bodies in empowering ways. I am now seeing that distinction.

I decided to explore what others were saying on the issue, and this opinion piece in the LA Times sums up my thoughts rather well.

For those who have never seen Thicke's video, Miley's VMA twerking performance, or her Wrecking Ball video, scroll on.

A feminists' parody of the Blurred Lines video

Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines video