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Miley, MTV and the Continued Assault on Young Girls

By       Message Geneva Brown Daniel     Permalink
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Miley Cyrus MVA by Ryan Janek Wolowski
Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Madonna--and now Miley Cyrus. MTV has done it again.

Why do so many seem surprised?. The Entertainment Beast markets to younger audiences by sexualizing younger and younger girls.

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Some of the furor over Miley's twerking (it's not in legitimate dictionaries, yet) surely is due to juxtaposition. Miley had been the star of a children's Disney television show. Heck, Miley's character was so wholesome that she made up words to substitute profanity.

How in hades, then, could supposedly angelic Hannah Montana bend over (stoop?) so low?

Call me jaded. I'm saddened by this admission of cynicism. I am a strong feminist who has always been vocal about the objectification of women and girls in our media. But I have become cynical because I see it happening over and over and over again.

My bitterness is grounded in this fact: the men involved in these kinds of episodes--who do things that we all should be just as equally horrified over--are overlooked while women are the ones condemned.

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Consider the 2004 Super Bowl performance and the "wardrobe malfunction" seen around the world. Janet Jackson was just about burned at the puritanical stake for allowing her costume to be ripped. But where was the outrage toward Justin Timberlake? He was the one who ripped her costume, revealing her breast.

In the infamous photo of the moment, Janet isn't proudly displaying her breast--she's trying to cover it.

Miley Cyrus' performance at MTV's Video Music Awards was no wholesome occasion. She demeaned herself and everyone watching her. But what shocked me most was the song by singer Robin Thicke, "Blurred Lines?"

The chorus compares women to animals that need to be tamed, which is comparable to the language of rape ( you know you want it ). The third verse is heinous:

One thing I ask of you
Let me be the one you back that ass to
Go, from Malibu, to Paris, boo
Yeah, I had a b*t*h, but she ain't bad as you
So hit me up when you passing through
I'll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two
Swag on, even when you dress casual
I mean it's almost unbearable
In a hundred years not dare, would I
Pull a Pharside let you pass me by
Nothing like your last guy, he too square for you
He don't smack that ass and pull your hair like that
So I just watch and wait for you to salute
But you didn't pick
Not many women can refuse this pimpin'
I'm a nice guy, but don't get it if you get with me

Miley's performance was simply an embodiment of this terribly misogynistic song. And yet, the seemingly clean cut 36-year old man who should know better got off easy. The pattern is too familiar. That's what we do to girls and women; that's what we do to boys and men. We look the other way as boys and men objectify females, and we condemn the girls and women when they mirror that objectification.

Piling on the criticism of Miley, sadly and tragically, was Robin Thicke's mother, Gloria Loring., " I was not expecting her to be putting her butt that close to my son," she said. To review, Mom is okay with him calling women derogatory names and talking about pimping women, but she draws the line at women who personify this behavior? Nice.

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Miley Cyrus' performance was in bad taste, but not just because of the dance. The truly awful reality of the MVA performance is the mirror that MTV reflects about our culture.

We allow men to degrade women in their music while rebuking women for showing us the visual. We allow clothing companies to market their clothes to young girls, using strong sexual images while chastising the girls who wind up wearing these products. We allow television shows and movies to portray sexual violence toward women while continuing to question whether rape victims were too suggestive to their perpetrators.

Let's end the double standard with this new low moment for MTV.

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Geneva (Ginny) Brown Daniel is pastor of Plymouth United Church (United Church of Christ) in Spring, Texas--a position she has held since 2003! A political progressive, she believes that the church should be the place that shares God's love with (more...)

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