One Guess Who’s Twerking All The Way To The Bank…

I try SO HARD to avoid blogging about superficial, media-induced, means-nothing-bullshit, yet Miley Cyrus getting down and dirty at the 2013 MTV VMA has all the elements for a good old fashioned opinion –nudity, sexuality, good girl gone bad…all this short of her 21st birthday. Sorry everyone, though I am taking the bait on this sensationalized and very unnewsworthy event -as it is not often you can opine about Hannah Montana twerking.

The opinions I have read, namely through Facebook, range from the conservative one side (“that was a disgusting and awful display of sexuality that was entirely inappropriate”) to the other, for lack of a better term, liberal, side of the spectrum which likes to point out the double standard we have in society regarding demonizing a female’s display of sexuality (slut) while championing a male’s equally sexual behavior (playa).  Ah, such tension…I love it.

Please read this blog entry in entirety before you think you may agree or disagree with me. I do play both sides of the fence and attempt to find the merits and weaknesses of both points of view. In fact, I feel somewhat schizophrenic in this regard.

To my conservative friends and readers I will offer 3 general reasons why you need to chill out on this. First, the aforementioned double-standard argument is a valid one. Now, you would likely retort, “I don’t like it when males behave publicly like that either.” To which I respond, in love, bullshit. I believe you when you say you do not like it…I really do. Yet the guttural, deeper, and more visceral response is clearly reserved for the female demonstrators of sexuality. You may not like it when Kanye mimics a grind for his audience, yet you are repulsed and write letters when a Miley Cyrus does it. This is gender prejudice, plain and simple.

Secondly, what is wrong with sexy? Particularly when sexy comes on MTV?….M FREAKING TV people -the station that has been pushing the envelope for decades. Should we really be shocked? This was not the Disney Channel, Nickelodeon or network television where such displays of sexuality would be inappropriate (think Janet Jackson’s nipple).  This is the MTV Video Music Awards where, in 2003, an older woman (a 43 year-old Madonna) makes out with a much younger woman (a 22 year-old Britney Spears). Can you say taboo? I knew you could. Do 14 year-old girls watch MTV? Yes, they do watch, yet that is on the parent’s for allowing it, not the entertainer’s for providing what they do best. And believe me, with what kid’s see and hear today, as they say, that ain’t nothing.

Lastly, and if you read a previous blog I wrote on porn, I will once again share a similar sentiment. Sex is something (most) everyone of sexual age engages in, all the time, particularly if you count when you are alone. We are sexual beings. Sex is a part of life. We would not be reading and engaging in these words right now if your sperm and eggs donors were not terribly turned on and wanted sex. If sex is good, sexuality should be discussed and there is NOTHING wrong with sexy. I understand some people believe sex is a private matter -I don’t. Leaving issues in the dark can have nasty consequences. We are all the result of a good old-fashioned orgasm.  This is not crass…it is FACT -with this understanding, a young girl coming of age and exploring her sexiness and sexuality in performance, is exciting and titillating. And you blowhard, self-righteous zealots who want to claim a motive for her behavior…just shut up. When you armchair judgmental psychologists get in her head let me know. Don’t like it? Don’t watch it.

Now, to my liberal and feminist friends, a few things for you all. Which way is it going to be? Do you want women to be seen as exclusively sexual beings and objectified…or not? If you want to champion Miley’s performance for any variety of reasons, you must realize the fallout from this is it does nothing to move forward a social egalitarian agenda. Does having the power and the right to do something make it a wise and profitable thing to do? Hell no. Stop supporting that performance on the grounds of a feminist worldview. If anything this sets the movement back in terms of “desexualizing” women, not forward.

Secondly, I have yet to see the male equivalent of what Miley Cyrus did. If you want to compare apples to apples to make the double-standard argument, you would need someone like a 19 year-old Justin Bieber to come out in a clear speedo and shake his package while simulating sex. I believe he if did do this (please don’t Justin, please) the reaction would be equally, perhaps moreso, deemed in a disturbing and negative light.

Finally, I realize I have more progressive views on sexuality than most and, to be frank, if one of my adult daughters were to pursue performing in such a way, I would have no problem with it provided she were in no way mislead or diabolically coerced. That being said, I realize I am the very rare father in this regard; still I would not be terribly pleased with this prior to her 21st birthday. How many of you who defend Miley’s performance would be as supportive if this were your own 20 YEAR OLD daughter? Or future daughter? Is this the path you would want them to take before they are allowed to legally drink alcohol? That’s what I thought….not many of you.

In the end, this is all so much ado about absolutely nothing and I fell for this bullshit hook, line and sinker. However, such sensationalized stories that mean nothing in and of themselves can lead us into deeper discussions of the underlying social and psychological issues involved. Or not. Feel free to disagree as such discussion only gives Hannah Montana all the more reason to twerk all the way to the bank.

jimmysintension

33 Comments

  1. This comment is meant neither to categorically agree nor disagree with anything above ( which I immensely enjoyed. ) Only to add to the conversation as it inspired reflection in at least one gay man. I would offer that women have ALWAYS been sexualized, elevated as objects of beauty, celebrated,idealized, objectified, presented in a sexual context. Think: Miss America, bikinis models at car shows, the Zigfield Follies, 500 years of art history celebrating the female nude and not the male form. Clearly the objections kick in when the sexual being OWNS her sexuality and does not have it imposed on her through exploitation or objectification. When she is the instigator, demanding or seeking gratification. There has been a lot of talk of SLUT-SHAMING, and a lot of talk of double standards. Here is a perspective to consider: I was born in 1968. My entire life I have seen scantily clad women in advertising and the media. When men were not to be viewed as sensual, sexual, or erotic. Only EFFICIENT. Media images of the ideal in masculinity included the Brawny paper towel guy, John Wayne, the Marlboro Man, and Mr. Clean. If a man presented himself sexually or sensually, HE was in fact shamed- as vain, a sissy, or somehow not masculine. Gay friends my age ALL remember the moment Jim Palmer first appeared in his undies in that Jockey ad campaign. Jim in his skivvies represented the first male image we’d EVER seen in mainstream media showing skin ( not to mention a lot of fur. ) And we all got a lot of mileage out of it behind locked bathroom doors. Then along came Calvin Klein ( thank the Lord ) and Marky Mark and finally Abercrombie and Fitch and it’s finally okay for men to groom themselves and beautify themselves and display their beauty/sexuality. All because gay men and women were FINALLY acknowledged as being a demographic with dough to spend!
    So- as a gay man- I don’t buy the double standard thing AT ALL. It has been very freeing to gay men to see that what a male is allowed to be in this culture has opened up. It is MUCH worse for a boy to be a sissy than a female to be a ‘Tom Boy.’ I do NOT think we accept sexual posturing or behavior from a man and object when we see it from a woman. I DO agree that the shaming comes in when women, under the guise of empowerment or ‘leveling the playing field,’ emulate traditionally male sexual behavior ( predation, promiscuity, aggression, overtness ) and simply put, act like men. I found Myley’s tongue and teeth ( way too many ) quite repulsive myself. And I would have had the same reaction to a man acting similarly lewd. And I am NO prude. I’m going to be blunt. Male or female, it’s about who’s doing the inserting and who’s receiving. When the receptive party is aggressive, it seems selfish. Piggish. The penetrator is supposed to be dominant/aggressive; the penetratee is submissive/passive. In the gay community, the unsavory image of the latter expressing himself aggressively is called a piggish bottom. There- I think Ive said enough. My work is done here.

    • Holy Shit Nick….would you please comment more?! This is incredible and I will have more to say soon.

    • As my friend and I like to say that was amazeballs. I’ve been too caught up with other things so I haven’t seen the actual video of Miley twerking but I’ve heard enough on twitter, reddit and now here. I was a 90’s baby so I wasn’t expose to the growing pains of what men went through to freely express themselves sexually or sensually. Thanks for your post, blew my mind!!!

  2. First, I would like to point out not a fatal flaw that you neglected to point out during this whole blog. Racism and cultural appropriation.

    I am of the mind that her display, had it been limited to the clothes she was wearing, or even the sexual content of the whole event- She is a big girl, and able to make choices for herself. The criticisms about her appearance, commenting that she is some feminine-gendered slur, or things akin to that nature are rubbish, sexist, but expected. Though not very lightly tolerated by me.

    However what Miley did in the way of twerking, used black women as props and depicted them as animals, and went so far as to say that she “…wanted a song that felt Black.” (http://www.vibe.com/article/miley-cyrus-asked-black-sound-single-says-songwriters-rock-city)

    Miley Cyrus, in her attempt to perhaps reclaim sexuality completely ignored the fact that feminism is not a movement solely made by white women. In fact, the movement itself can often be dismissed now not just by men who think “All Feminists Hate Men” but by women of colour who are ignored, and transwomen as well.

    However, while I will not defend Miley when it comes to her blatant and frankly gross racism in her performance I will state that it is wrong to look down on her for grinding on the hips of a married man who has a child.

    Because after all. That married man, who has a child, stood there. He knew the dance, I am assuming, why is he not being called out? That, if you ask me, is where the double standard shines right through. Because though he might not have been stripped down, it takes two to tango and she wasn’t dancing against thin air.

    So not only does this performance stink of racism and appropriation, but it still stinks of sexism. Where are the criticisms of Robin Thicke? That man who participated in the act with her? The man who recently put out the song “Blurred Lines” and stated that it was fun to degrade women? That, due to the fact that he was married now and also had a child he did not did to respect them(women) anymore? (http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/music-arts/robin-thicke-blurred-lines-kind-rapey-article-1.1377071)

    To sum it up. I believe it is wrong to sum this issue up solely as a one-dimensional issue in an if-then fallacy. Miley’s racism, Robin Thicke’s sexism, and the glaring sexism from the public towards Miley for her “sexy dance” is multifaceted and none of the parts can be ignored. The battle for equality is not just women, LGTBQA+, people of colour, people with disabilities- but all of that and even more and it needs to be intersectional in that fight.

    • Did you check the links I provided? Check out the double standard link. It is brief though explains the rationale.

  3. I also like what you said about ‘setting the movement back.’ I see so many attempts at supposed female empowerment that emulate the sexual profile of men ( think ‘the Sexual Brain,’ Simon LeVay ) and the joke is on those who think it will be liberating. Thankfully, in ‘Sex And the City’ ( which I LOVE BTW ) when Carrie Bradshaw and her pack troll and drag and act just as promiscuous as men, they show the good, bad and ugly rather than glorifying. They show what men have known for centuries, that sexual promiscuity can be ultimately dissatisfying as it does not result in tru intimacy.

  4. OK- last comment. In case I came across as ‘conservative’ ( irony of ironies…:-) ) I have to say that while I don’t see certain attempts as empowering ( Cristina, Samantha in ‘Sex and the CIty,’ etc. ) I think Cher and Madonna worked wonders at I time when it was MUCH NEEDED! This is a GREAT Madonna interview:
    The topic at hand is addressed at 10:05
    SOO articulate about what she’s been trying to do all these years:

  5. I have no comments on this article. The term distasteful is a matter of opinion. Yes, I did not like her performance, but it’s a matter of opinion.Was it entertaining? OF COURSE! She most definitely twerked it all the way to the bank. She mentioned in a tweet that she had more people talking about her per minute than during the Blackout or SuperBowl. Therefore, it does not matter if you liked it or not. As long as you talk about her, that is all she wants, and more money/power to her. Just remember the commercial from the SuperBowl with the good looking white woman and the nerd. DISGUSTING! Yet it made all of us check out what this madness of commercial was about. Interesting way media works now. Psychologically grabbing our attention in a new way.

    I guess I did have some stuff to say.

    • We all have some stuff to say Anaiza. Great having lunch with you today mi amiga….you inspire me. Really, you do.

  6. OK…you told me to keep commenting. And damn you and your blog for sucking me into the twerking debate. But I thought I’d add one more thought- and if 45 years of being on the planet while not being ‘in the same game’ as the majority does not result in an objectivity of some value, then damn me too. And as far as gender identities and sexual psyches and relationship dynamics/roles are concerned, I believe gay people experience/explore a more diverse range and can equally identify with both culturally prescribed gender roles. Following up on the idea of a receptive figure seeking gratification and that predatory act being viscerally repulsive to people: there are VERY good reasons for this. Understanding them only requires that one think in terms of evolutionary theory. A man being driven by his sexuality ( spreading the seed ) directly contributes to the propagation of the species. But evolution requires that the mother be primarily devoted to her offspring, often while suspending the sexual drive. This is expected, hence the Madonna complex. Perhaps the image of a female seeking sexual gratification is threatening because in its extreme- the shadow side of the Mother archetype ( which we associate with the sex-centric female ) historically results in either neglect of, or even abuse of children. Directly at odds with propagation.

    • Nick…I believe what you suggest is spot on and the reason most of us cannot imagine our parents (particularly our mother) being sexual beings. I suppose twerking and breastfeeding will never quite go together.

      • Like. And…YIKES! Thank you for that image. Those two things should never, under any circumstances, occur in the same sentence.

  7. Any publicity is good publicity. To read such intelligent comments, so well thought out, full of historical references, intellectual conclusions with logic and reason, is ironic when Miley and her marketers most likely couldn’t understand a word of it. Duh.

  8. great post– thanks for looking at this from several perspectives– enjoyed reading.

  9. I think it is a good sign that Miley’s lewd on-stage performance has gotten so many negative comments in the press and on social media. It gives me hope that in this post-modern, anything goes, culture some things are beyond the pale. Maybe is shows that the Gen Y kids do have morals after all.

    • Thanks for the comment Sandra. I would define “morals” somewhat differently than you. I view morality more or less how you treat people. “Immoral” behavior to me means being unkind or exhibiting hurtful behaviors. What Miley did may have been distasteful, inappropriate, etc… though immoral? In fact I could argue that entertaining others is generally a moral behavior. Though you know I don’t like to argue 😉

      • I agree ( re:morality ) Labeling sexual expression or celebration of sex as immoral was a trick invented during the dark ages, as part of the effort to control the populace through shame. Whether procreational or recreational, connecting with another in an intimate fashion is a moral act. And it’s why EVERY ONE of us is here. In my opinion, as a society, we should reserve the power of the word ( immoral ) by reserving it for the nonconsensual ( rape ), or the unwelcome ( harassment, molestation ) or to those not in a position to consent ( statutory rape. ) What could possibly be immoral about sex or sexuality in and of itself? One definition of ‘sin’ is to go against the self. In that sense, perhaps those who are over-sexualized, sex-obsessed, sex addicted, ( what we used to call nymphomaniacs ) are ‘sinning’ because the fixation is a distortion or a malady.

        • Can you PLEASE keep commenting on my blogs Nick?? The intelligence level and quality of perspective just soars.

          • I will try! And thanks. But no guarantees- unless you get my attention with the word ‘sex’ as in this case. And BTW- I DARE you to google simply Miley, tongue. DO it.

  10. These are the most comments I have seen for 1 of your blogs Jimmy…and of course “this is all so much ado about absolutely nothing” to quote you, the only comment I want to make about her performance is that shouldn’t have stuck out her tongue so much, its disrespectful.

    • I tried to incorporate her disgusting tongue into the blog though it did not fit. Just damn gross. I think Gene Simmons’ tongue is sexier.

    • Apparently her mother never warned her that ‘it’s going to stay that way…’

  11. This is one of those topics that people either hate to talk about or love it. They either fully embrace it, or fully reject it. The idea that all people are sexual is indeed true. Does that mean that we need to be that way in front of everyone on national television? Does that mean, that since it is on television the thing that is worshiped as many people’s god, that it makes it ok? If everyone in the world said something was alright, does that make it alright? Does not God have anything to say about the matter?

    Indeed He does, and He says that the wages of sin is death. This is a reality.

    If you want to discuss this theology which is found in the Bible, please do. But I honestly do not feel that most of the people that read this blog or the teacher are interested.

    What I am saying is that if you say you are comfortable with this level of sexuality in front of your eyes, and you do not feel like it causes any affect on your life, then my friend, you have just accepted something that I do not believe is true. Can I tell you that you are wrong? I guess I cannot can I any more than you can tell me that I am wrong…

    All I know is what the Bible teaches about this subject, and I know what it does to me when I look at sexual things on television. Maybe some of you are so entrenched in pornography that you do not notice that it has an effect on you, but I tell you, it is a negative effect. Sin is fun for a time, but it does have its price to pay, and all will pay it unless they repent of it and turn to Jesus Christ.

    Feel free to say whatever you like about this point of view.

  12. Another thought came to my mind was that, “Why is this girl doing this?”

    She is not child star to rise into being some kind of sexual woman.

    You look at Britney Spears today, and she is pretty messed up.

    What is more is that girls look at her and think, “Wow, in order to be famous, I need to run around on stage in my underwear and show people how to have sex!”

    Is that not the message sent?

    How many little girls used to watch Hannah Montana… I don’t want to go there though.

    I digress and say, “What Disney teaches is really just nicely packaged lies.”

    Truth is better.

  13. One last thing before I leave…

    I realize there are in this world mixed opinions on what is truth and what is lie. I know that we all have feelings and those feelings lead us to do what we do quite often. I myself have strong feelings of sexual desire for my girlfriend, but I am aware that those feelings are only temporary but if I act on them, the action is permanent. This is the reason why I am waiting until I marry her until I do have sex with her. This is because she deserves this respect, and if I truly love her, I will marry her and wait to have sex with her then. God made us to be sexual creatures, otherwise we would indeed not be here typing on blogs. I personally come from parents who could not keep me and so they gave me up for adoption. This was a great kindness from them, as many are being irresponsible and having abortions instead. The reality is that, sooner or later, women, if you have an abortion, you will have to face the fact that you will never see that person that would have been your son or daughter. You will have to come to the reality that you made a choice to stop their life, and they were never born because of that. If you feel like that is something you want to live with for the rest of your life, then by all means, have an abortion. But to those that have had one, I believe you know what I am talking about. Sex comes with a responsibility, and that is not portrayed in the media today. I believe we should remember the reality of it.

    I don’t say these things because I am trying to be a good moral person. I say these things because this is the way that God made them to be ever since the beginning of time. When He created man and woman, “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.'” (Genesis 1:28)

    Jesus also said: “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6)

    I know that some of you have made a conscious decision to not follow God, or “any religion that is man-made”, or you say that the Bible is written by men so therefore it cannot be true… I have heard all of your arguments hundreds of times. I used to make these arguments myself. But I have found, in my 29 years of life, that what Jesus said is true. Not just about what He said about marriage, but everything. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no man comes to the Father, but by Him. (John 14:6) And I take Him at His word.

    This is why I choose to obey what He says. His word is credible, it is reliable, and it is unshakeable. To those who go outside of it, it is like you are attempting to re-write life. My suggestion to you is that you stop wasting your time. Jesus is coming back someday.

    There is power is the message of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the answer, not me, and not anyone else.

  14. You suggested a good post for me to read over my Shiraz tonight Jimmy!
    Now, I must agree with you on your first point about male verses female demonstrating sexuality in what we PERCEIVE as negative in the media. It is more excepted for males to make innuendos more then females, but why? Because we (females) are the more reserved sex, more delicate? No. Our views on the roles of the male and female sex is tweaked (like marriage, right Jimmy?)
    This brings me to your second point. Pushing the envelope. This is what we do. As a country, we started as prudes, and now we are having to make up for it! In Europe and mostly every other country in the world, the human body and sexuality is such a natural part of life, which you said in your conclusion. But what I will disagree with is your “age” condition. Why should we separate 20 year olds from 21 year olds just because of Americas legal drinking age? According to the law, we are adults at 18 and CAN be charged with adult crimes, so why shouldn’t 20 year olds, like Miley, be held in the same respect verse someone like madonna kissing and “almost” minor?
    And for all the feminists out there (I am a very mild one, not thinking our place is always in the home, but I understand some views of why people complain about women’s rights) you asked for this. We burned our bras in the 60’s and we have fought so hard for suffrage and what we do with our bodies (pro-choice); but when you complain and revolt about the draft and fighting on the front lines for your country, you draw the line? I don’t think so buster. You asked for this. You asked for equality, and Miley is giving it to you in the form of twerking on Robin Thicke and doing whatever she was trying to do with her foam finger (which I will add as a sexual being, was not all that attractive… The foam finger part I mean haha).
    So ladies and gents, even if I am agreeing with Jimmy, don’t hate on Miley because she is trying to brand the new Brittany or Madonna, she is doing a kick ass job breaking into the hip hop world, when no other southern white girl has. Lets re-examine what we have all been asking for shall we?

    Not sure if that was an argument, but it was fun regardless! Thoughts?

    • Shiraz and blogs….such a nice compliment to each other! We discuss the whole age thing quite in a bit some of my other classes (critical thinking; interpersonal) specifically in regards to why we have certain ages for certain things. Be it 5,7,13,16,18,21,25 it seems somewhat arbitrary as to why we select certain ages for certain things. Though brain science does agree that the human brain is not fully formed until age 25…so pretty much anything we do before then is dangerous grounds. Truth be told, I really like Miley and her whole smug “fuck you” attitude -it so works for me -though I can see how it would not for others. Not a very strong disagreement Trisha though I appreciate the feedback!!

  15. Well, when i came across this post, it caught my attention, and i had intentions on arguing with you but i don’t think i really can. I was disgusted with the new miley at first because i was so used to her little girl hannah montana persona but i think she’s a total badass because she’s finally coming out and expressing herself (maybe not in the most appropriate way) but she doesn’t care what anybody has to say. Although i think you left out the whole idea of maybe the same people who complained about it, could even be the same people who think every channel on tv is gonna be censored JUST for all the young kids. Yes, you said their conservative liberals, or maybe even those people who always have something to bitch about, but maybe their those kind of parents who baby their kids and might not have even given them the sex talk (even if they are of age). Most kids start to get the general idea of it come like the very beginning of high school and maybe earlier now because kids are crazy these days. my mom was one of the more laid back and cool moms like you described your parenting, and at first it was a total wtf for her but she didn’t flip a B and cause a scene about it. I think it might just be the huge gap between the generation of parents, and the generation now that cause people to go insane about stuff like that. this was an older post of yours but i love miley and i liked how you were really straight up.

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