In my quest to stay one step ahead of irrelevancy, lest I topple into the “get off my lawn” stage before my time, I frequently dip into the well of pop culture so I can remain conversant with people under 30. Word — I can hashtag like cray-cray.
Shut up. At least I’m trying.
So, naturally, when the morning news teams, Internet and social media blew up on Monday over the strange tongue-wagging teddy bear twerking Miley Cyrus performance on the Video Music Awards last weekend, I had to check it out. Yeah, it’s awkward. At first glance, it’s a swing-and-a-miss at in-your-face white girl female sexuality.
Miley. Honey. Go back and read the Madonna and Lady Gaga chapters, with the footnote by Gwen Stefani.
Miley’s VMA performance is actually a medley of her “We Can’t Stop” song/video, and Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” and his collaboration with 2 Chainz and Kendrick Lamar on “Give It 2 U.” OK, what was the point of all this. What’s Miley trying to say. Like a good investigative reporter, I turned to YouTube for answers. Turns out, the VMA performance is a compilation of the videos, and Miley is the thread stitching them together.
First, “We Can’t Stop.” Aha, that’s where the dancing teddy bears harken from, and where Miley did her first Gene Simmons impersonation and attempted twerking. The video is mostly a “Yo, Mom, I’m in college now and you can’t make me come home at midnight” ode to cutting the invisible umbilical cord, and shows a bunch of PBR-powered frisky young people partying. A recurring theme in the lyrics is “We can do what we want to, we can say what we want to,” and so on and so forth. Near the end of the song, Miley adds in, “It’s my mouth, I can say what I want to.”
Hmmm. She’s saying “You aren’t the boss of me. Or my mouth.”
Or my fingers on the keyboard?
If I were to fault that sentiment, I’d be the hugest hypocrite on the planet. Let’s all just be glad that I don’t require a skin-colored latex bikini to get my point across. #iwanttobarf
I get it. Miley is desperately trying to break out of the Hannah Montana mold that Disney stuffed her into, and although it’s a bit clumsy, it’s far less painful than fellow Disney kid Britney Spears’ attempts to reclaim her own psyche and identity. (You remember Britney — we relentlessly harried her into emotional collapse, right to the precipice of suicide, and then brushed our hands together and cluck-clucked about her pitiful lack of self-control, and felt altogether really good about ourselves.)
Miley’s not Hannah Montana anymore. She’s an adult. She wants to do what she wants now, and what she wants to do is have sex.
Oh, be still our fibrillating Puritanical hearts, because none of us, not now or ever, have ever wanted to have sex!
Let’s get honest, people. We all want sex. Anyone who denies that — check your pants. They’re on fire.
Which segues right into Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” video, featuring ridiculously cute, sexy young women prancing around in nothing but flesh-colored panties. First off, holy crap, that’s a great song! Secondly, the girls in this video aren’t being degraded or abused. They look playful and confident, and embody the song’s message: “Come on, Good Girl — you know you want to have sex!”
And, right about now, uptight sex-phobic minds are blowing up like the Fourth of July sky, because females are not supposed to like sex. Sex belongs to men!
The rest of you, read on.
I particularly like this line from the song: “tried to domesticate you, but you’re an animal, baby, it’s in your nature.” Sexuality is a part of normal female nature. Funny. American women are horrified that women in some cultures are forced to wear burqas, and don’t recognize that American women wear burqas too — it’s draped over our sexuality. Ultimately, it’s the same thing: Open, honest, genuine female sexuality is so threatening to the stability of society itself, it must be shrouded, kept out of sight and exposed only to the male with the property rights.
So. Back to Miley, twerking away with Thicke as he sings about he knows she wants it, and the connection is obvious — her little rubber bikini was clearly inspired by his video. But the message is still all hers. She’s shrieking, “Yes, this Good Girl is all grown up, and I want access to my own sexuality!” Regardless of how awkward her declaration may be, Miley is lifting the edge of her sexual burqa and showing an ankle. She’s saying, “Yes! Girls like sex too, and not for the benefit of you guys, but for our own, because it feels good and it’s fun!”
Anyone who has ever had an orgasm: I challenge you to refute that pure truth.
Which brings us to the third part of the medley, “Give It 2 U,” with Miley gettin’ nasty with a big foam fan finger. The actual video features sexy, scantily clad cheerleaders on the football field doing red-hot grinding dance routines, and that’s where the foam fingers and twerking play in. The song is about men wanting to have sex with those cheerleaders.
Men wanting have sex with cheerleaders! That’s just shocking!!!
Said no one in America ever.
And there’s the rub. As long as women get sexy for male entertainment, everything’s fine. But when women start getting sexy for themselves, because that’s what they want, and that’s what feels good, and they stare right back atcha, guys, and say, “Bring it, baby, I’m ready,” we start flopping and gasping like fresh-caught mackerels dumped out onto the pier. Cover it up, cover it up!
It’s called hypocrisy.
You want to talk equality? Feminism? Liberation? Then, ladies, reclaim your sexuality. Explore it. Enjoy it. Own it. Just as men have for centuries. Your sexuality isn’t his. It’s yours.
You lift that burqa, Miley. You go, girl.
— Email Debra DeAngelo at firstname.lastname@example.org; read more of her work at www.wintersexpress.com and www.ipinionsyndicate.com