what makes women objects?

The more the Miley Mania drags on, the more I want to throttle people.

I need to say this:  If you are implying  that Miley SHOULD NOT twerk all over the person of her choosing, you are taking away her freedom to explore her sexuality in whatever way she wants (however freakish and unsettling you may find it) and you are taking away her right to be the kind of performer she wants (however embarrassing and grotesque it may be) and trying to craft her into an object of your desiring.

Yes, it is fine and good and occasionally beneficial to talk about what kind of a society we live in and what kinds of examples we want our daughters to follow, but the Miley Mania has gone far beyond that.  I am starting to find it acutely disturbing.  People are saying, in not as many words, that Miley somehow owes something to their families and should remain the chaste, adorable teen idol she started out as.  As if, because she was thrust into the spotlight at a young age and profited from it, she now owes society back.

She’s not a person, she’s an object.

The objectification of Miley Cyrus as a sexual being started LONG before the VMAs.  It started with the blurred lines between her and Hannah Montana, the plastering of bedrooms with her face, and the parents who willingly told their daughters that she was someone worth becoming.

Which, I must point out, objectified their daughters, too.

Anyone who is shocked that such a journey would culminate in the show at the VMAs must not pay attention to how the world works.  Sexual imprisonment does tend to lead to sexual rebellion- and public sexual imprisonment does tend to lead to public sexual rebellion.

But let’s talk about objectification more, why don’t we?  Because it’s oh so tempting and oh so easy to blather on about objectification as if the only time it happens is on billboards and magazine covers and on TV, as if the only way women are ever objectified is as sexual objects that men control and consume.

Ha.

If only.  If only.

Women are also objectified as virgins and mothers and cohorts and workers and teachers and on, and on, and on.

Women are still treated as commodities that society controls.  Sometimes it’s the way Miley Cyrus has been, and sometimes it’s the way Marisa Mayer has been, or the way Michelle Obama has been, or the way my junior high English teacher was.  I mean, there are a million ways to make other people into objects.  It happens to men, too.  Men who are “supposed” to be strong when they want to lay down and cry and take a nap, but then society tells them their man card will be revoked.  Or kids who are told that they should be playing with toys instead of reading, or that they should play sports instead of music, or that science is for nerds only.

But I suppose women feel it the most strongly still- not because we’re objectified as sexual beings (although that sucks) but because we’re objectified as persons.  Women’s bodies, for instance, are legislated to an extent that men may never fully grasp.   Our reproductive organs are debated in the legislature routinely by people who don’t even possess them, as if by being born female we are born potentially guilty of crimes we must never be allowed to commit.  Crimes like, for instance, wanting to not have a baby.  God forbid the “naturally tendency to nurture” not kick in and we don’t rush to sacrifice our careers and marry the bad sexual choice who impregnated us.  And we’re objectified as workers- told we don’t have the “natural competitiveness” to take on the sorts of assignments that are given to men, so over time we earn less and less money.  BUT THAT’S OKAY.  Because, as the objects in need of protection and provision that we as women naturally are (that is sarcasm, in case it’s not clear) we will marry one of those “naturally competitive” men who can foot the bill for us, and the progeny we are legally obligated to some day provide for him, should we ever conceive.

And don’t get me started on the way that abused women are objectified.  First, by the guy that gives them the black eye.  Then, by society.

Our choices are debated as an entire subclass, as if all women are the same and can be held to the same standard.  And the women who do live up to the standard become objects of adulation.

God help them should they make the wrong choice the next time around.

“She should have known better.”

F***ing objectification, right there.

So stop objectifying Miley Cyrus.

Stop objectifying women.

Stop objectifying people.

Take your anger and your outrage and use it to change society.  Change yourself.  Change your need for puritanical teen idols for the girls in your life to adore, as if YOU, YOU cannot be the example they need to see of how a woman can be successful.  Change the rules that say that women can’t make good choices about their own body and their own reproduction- or bad choices, too.  Change the stupid standards of society that say that women can’t deal with difficult and demanding jobs and shouldn’t be paid well when they do, as if women are just beings that should have been born men but don’t have enough testosterone to function properly.

Just stop.

All of your outrage just fuels the idea that a woman needs society to tell her what to do.

 

Who is worse: She who twerks, or he who is twerked upon?

I know.  Everyone is sick of Miley Cyrus.  Like Bald Britney and High Lindsay Lohan, Miley has captivated our national dialogue with her painfully wedged boy-shorts and hypnotically horrible twerking.  I joked with a classmate that maybe it was all a misunderstanding.  Miley’s manager said, “you need to really work on your stage act” and Miley was like “twerk on stage?  Got it.”

Hahahaha.  (Gotta laugh through the tears, man.)

So why am I blogging about this over-wrought issue?  Well, first, there’s this:  Miley is not the first girl to twerk, or even twerk to the point of nausea.  This is nothing new.  Nameless, faceless booties twerk in dance videos all the time and there is no uproar about how it is destroying society.  It seems like the only time twerking is so horribly wrong is when it’s Miley doing it on stage at the VMAs.  Even the songs she twerked to, songs that glorified drunken sexuality and whoring (although not *quite* in so many words) are not new songs, so why the uproar now?

Because it’s Miley, of course.  She’s supposed to be sweet and innocent.  Her face has been plastered all over children’s clothing lines, trapper keepers and backpacks and posters on wall.  She, as an image, is supposed to MEAN something.  Now that meaning is threatened, and all the little girls that idolize her see something else.  And they wonder what it means and why.  So I can understand being just as upset as people where about Mary Kate and Ashley Olson’s drug use or Lindsay Lohan’s whatever-the-heck-that-was.  I do, I understand.

Only women have twerked before in the public eye, and sexual songs have been sung.  I’m sorry, but as a society we need to accept that those messages are out there, and while it may feel more egregious when it’s Miley Cyrus sending them it’s not.  When there’s a public outcry over Miley Cyrus twerking what it sends isn’t a resounding message that such behavior is harmful; it sends a double standard.

After all, men have been twerked on before.

Let me back up a minute:  Miley wasn’t the only one on stage.  But the guy she was twerking all over is rarely being called out for his part in the performance.  There are very few voices condemning Robin Thicke for allowing Miley Cyrus to make such a spectacle of herself all over him.  We can’t point our finger at Miley and say, “grotesque!  Objectification!” but HELLO, let’s point our finger at Thicke and say, “Objectifying!  Shameful!”

As with every other video where a woman, a complete being with thoughts and needs and desires, is boiled down to a scantily clad twerking ass.

I’m serious.

Because otherwise, we’re saying it’s fine for women, their glorious bodies, and their complex selves to be made as nothing more than a tool for men’s desire, unless it’s Miley Cyrus at the VMAs.

We’re saying it’s okay for men to want this and glorify this and to pay some women to do this, but not Miley Cyrus.

And why is it not okay for Miley?

And for all of the men that get off on it, what do we say about them?

It’s okay, as long as it’s a woman who is nameless and faceless.

I realize I may be beating a dead horse, but it really bothers me.

It’s okay to objectify women as long as we never are reminded of who they are and who we wish they could be.  It’s okay for women to be made into sexual objects as long as we are not reminded of the childhood and innocence they lose in order to do so.  It’s okay for women to make spectacles of themselves for men’s pleasure as long as we don’t have other goals for them.

And our daughters get the message that it’s okay for men to want to make them objects.  It’s good, it’s desirable for a man to want you to make yourself a sexual object for him.  But you shouldn’t, because people will be ashamed of you.

Which, to a rebellious teen, sounds like a challenge.

It sounds like a dare.