Fighting with the Sky

Posts Tagged ‘Miley Cyrus

I hope everyone has had a good week.  As always, this post features some of my favorite posts from the past couple days as well as some of my favorite posts from the week that were already featured in Tuesday or Thursday‘s link love posts.  Don’t forget to leave links to what you have been writing/reading in the comments!

New Link Love

Cis [this ain’t livin’] – a definition and examination of the word ‘cis.’

Are You There, God? It’s Me, Miley: On Privacy, Teen Sexuality, and the Miley Cyrus Twitter [Bitch Blogs] – who’s a real teen – Miley Cyrus or Taylor Swift?  I may not agree with this post, but it’s a good read.  And you have to see this rap video that Miley made…it makes me laugh every time:

Moore illuminate evil of a corrupt system [Womanist Musings] – a look at Michael Moore’s new movie Capitalism: A Love Story.

An Education: “mini review” [Entertainment Realm] – Nick Hornby can write about women!

Weekly Link Love

Feminism that doesn’t advance women is no feminism at all [Zero at the Bone] – Chally examines the use of ableist language.

Another Way Language Excludes People [Small Strokes] – feminists often think about how the language that they use is exclusionary. But the use of English in relation to non-English speakers is not often commented on with the same kind of concern.

What if my gaze mattered? On the continuing dominance of the white-male-hetero-gaze and how it’s infiltrating the “feminine” world of Twilight [Professor What If…?] – “All the discussion of making the New Moon film friendlier to male audiences has my feminist panties in a bunch. Why must the Twilight films court the male demographic?”

I’m really glad that Miley Cryus is continuing her break from Disney with this new music video for “Party in the USA” (note: same song to which she pole-danced at the Teen Choice Awards).  Please note the sarcasm.  And I’m also really glad that I am now aquainted with Miley Cyrus’ bra and cleavage.

poledancedollJust what I always wanted when I was a kid!  A pole-dancing doll!

This doll “dances to the music and moves up and down the pole as well as around and around the poll.”  I don’t know who thought this was appropriate for children — probably the same people that put Miley Cyrus on a pole on top of an ice cream truck at the Teen Choice Awards.

And yes, this doll is for and marketed towards children.  Don’t get me wrong, pole dancing can be an appropriate expression of sexuality.  But I think Melissa at Shakesvilles says it best:

My objection to this item is that it introduces as a fun activity a sex act to which a child cannot consent and actively seeks to sexualize children, specifically girls, and specifically in an objectified and submissive sexual role.

Sexualizing children is not only harmful to children, but to adults as well.  If young girls are sexualized, then women are encouraged to look like young girls.  And when that can’t happen (because people – gasp! – age), they are encouraged to resort to things like plastic surgery, eating disorders, and other harmful activites.

I hope that the makers of this doll realize what a big mistake they have made.

Recently I have been thinking about teen’s expressing their sexuality. I have been thinking about this ever since Miley Cyrus’ performance at the Teen Choice Awards. I am not about to defend Miley Cyrus’ pole-dancing performance as an expression of her sexuality, because I don’t think it was. I think it was a ploy on the behalf of marketers to gain more fans. As Cara Lisa Berg Powers points out in the post “I Don’t CareWhat Miley’s Parents Thinks…“:

It is difficult enough for women in today’s society to have control over their own sexuality. Imagine how much more challenging this is for girls, when corporate male fantasies make their way into performances by teenagers at awards shows created specifically FOR teenagers.

This pole-dancing routine that Miley did was a result of “corporate male fantasies” not from her expressing her sexuality.

But there is something to be said for teens expressing their sexuality when it is actually them doing the expressing and not marketers. In the same post, Powers also defends Britney Spears expressing her sexuality when her first album came out because she was over 18, therefore no longer a teenager. But what’s so magic about the number 18? Why is ok for an 18-year-old to express their sexuality (even when it is still a marketing ploy in the case of Britney Spears) but not when it is a 16-year-old?

I think it’s about time that people stop ignoring the fact that teenagers have a sexuality. It’s not as if everybody wakes up on their 18th birthday with sexual desires that they never had before. Teens should be able to express their sexuality.

But there is something to say for teens expressing their sexuality out of their own desire and not the desire of others, especially not the desires of middle-aged corporate men. Teen stars like Miley Cyrus, who is old enough to know the consequences of her actions, should take responsibility for being a good role model to her fans. Cyrus’ fans range in age from 8-years-old (or younger) to twentysomethings (or older). When I worked at a summer camp, our rule was to keep everything appropriate for the youngest camper. I think the same thing applies here. Miley Cyrus (and stars like her) should keep her expressions of sexuality appropriate for her youngest fans, which means not pole dancing.

Expression of sexuality, while completely appropirate, should be left to private relationships for teenagers, especially those in the spotlight that are role models for young children. And teens expression of their sexuality should come from themselves, not from others.

I don’t think that stars who are over 18 should be let off the hook, either, for marketing their sexuality when their fans are pre-teens, in the case of early Britney Spears. Sexuality should be something that is expressed by oneself, not mandated by others, and should be expressed with responsibility. If you are old enough to have sexualtiy to express, you should be old enough to take responsibility for that sexuality and how it comes across to the public.

I’m a couple years past my teen years, so why would I want to spend my Monday night watching the Teen Choice Awards? Well, I’m fascinated by pop culture, much of which revolves around teens and people who still wish they were teenagers. And when I head buzz around pole dancing and slut-shaming that took place at the Teen Choice Awards (which was filmed on Sunday), I had to watch it!

So I sat down on Monday night with my glass of wine ready to live-tweet the Teen Choice Awards 2009 (@ShelbyKnox came up with the hashtag #teenschoosewine for those of us live-tweeting the awards show under the influence of alcohol).

This year, the awards show was hosted by the Jonas Brothers. I was not terribly impressed and of course we had to listen to two performances from them. Watching the Teen Choice Awards (something I haven’t done in a couple years) was an interesting experience. Even if you didn’t know it was called the “Teen Choice Awards,” you would definitely know who the demographic was. From the humor, the “Dare the Jonas Brothers” bits, and most of the things nominated, you can tell that it is marketed towards teens, especially teens that watch the Disney Channel.

The Teen Choice Awards seemed to basically be a showcase of the sexualization of teen girls and teens trying to be adults.

The main example of this? Miley Cyrus’ performance of her song “Party in the USA.” She came out wearing hot pants, heels, a racer-back shirt, and a mesh bra that could be seen from the sides and back. I highly doubt that most 16-year-olds’ parents would let their kids out of the house dressed like that. What makes it worse: pole dancing. That’s right. The 16-year-old “role model” was pole dancing at the Teen Choice Awards. In fact, with a pole that was attached to the top of an ice cream cart. As @ShelbyKnox said (tweeted): “I wish Miley didn’t feel she has to sexualize herself in such a way to have fans. She could be such a role model.” Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana had a ton of fans before she started to sexualize herself. I don’t care if she’s trying to move away from Disney. This is not the way for a 16-year-old girl to do that.

Now don’t get me wrong: I’m all for women expressing their sexuality. But when a 16-year-old girl is sexualized in order to sell records, there’s problem. I don’t see Miley Cyrus’ performance as her expressing her own sexuality, I see it as a plot to attrach more fans. The sexualization of younger and younger women is what causes a lot of these body image issues that girls and women have. If they weren’t trying to be this “perfect” sexual teenager, girls and women might be more happy to just be themselves.

Then there was the sexism that was in the categories. On instance that particularly stuck out to me was that there was an award for Choice Actor in an Action/Adventure movie, but no Choice Actress. Granted, the action/adventure genre is not heavily populated with women. But there are women in these movies, enough so that they could create a category for these women that “kick butt.”

Then there was a new category: Choice Fab-u-lous. A category designed specifically for gay men in fashion. I think the important question to ask is if this category is honoring the contributions that these men have made to the world of fashion, or does it further the “othering” of them by creating a separate category specifically for gay men in fashion? I would probably say the latter, especially because of the title of the award and they way that it was said. But, in Miss J’s acceptance speech (Miss J from America’s Next Top Model) he shared his award with all the gay, lesbian, and trans people in the country and said that this award made them as fierce as he is. I thought that was a really good touch.

Because the show was filmed on Sunday, some events were leaked. I heard about an event involving Dane Cook on Shakesville in which he “slut-shamed” Vanessa Hudgens for the naked pictures she took a while ago for Zac Efron that were leaked onto the internet. As a result, the crowd boo-ed him. Sadly (kind of), this was not aired. I would have like to seen him boo-ed, but we don’t need to broadcast to the country another instance of slut-shaming, so I guess it is good that it was cut out.

I have to say, I’m huge fan of awards shows, especially the Academy Awards. But the Teen Choice Awards was pretty painful to sit through. I hated to see all of the sexualization of teen girls and the stereotyping of numberous demographics (George Lopez on Latinos, for example). I also thought it was inappropriate that this award show was supposed to be run by votes from viewers (aka teens) and some of the things they were supposed to vote on were not appropriate for teens. There were rated R movies (such as Slumdog Millionaire) nominated along with True Blood (which is a great show, but I don’t think is appropriate for the age demographic for the show). These things are especially seen for their inappropriateness when they are up against movies and shows from Disney. If parents want to let teens watch these movies and shows, that’s their business. But the Teen Choice Awards should not be promoting these age-inappropriate movies and shows to their primary audience of teens.

But the Teen Choice Awards in a venue for teens to try to be adults, for the way they dress, to the way they dance, to the movies they vote for. But I do have to say I have a favorite moment. It would have to be when Ellen Degeneres won Choice Twit (yes, they now have awards for Twitter) and promised that she would give away $1000 to a follower next week. I was happy that Ellen, a proud lesbian, won the award as opposed to Kim Kardashian or Ashton Kutcher, who she was up against.

It’s hard to fully summarize what was going on in my mind throughout the Teen Choice Awards because it was a two hour show and so many things happened. One minute I was impressed with a decision made by the show and the very next minute I was disgusted by what was going on on stage. But I guess that says a lot about the Teen Choice Awards. It tried to be a “progressive” but just ended up being a mess of stereotypes and sexualization. I think the awards show should just remember who their main demographic is and fix the show accordingly.