She shouldn’t over-sexualize herself because it undermines her talent, her accomplishments, and her natural beauty – and it reverses the conversation about women back to their bodies.
That’s the thrust of a take on Miley Cyrus from the conservative Independent Women’s Forum.
Coupla issues here. First, when does sexualizing cross the line into over-sexualizing? This line is a pretty important one to identify, since crossing it apparently “undermines [a woman’s] talent, her accomplishments, and her natural beauty.” I guess her “natural beauty” is separate from her sexuality. How does that work exactly?
As far as reversing the conversation about women back to their bodies, that ship has sailed, and slut-shamers are at the helm. If you’ve decided you can dismiss what a woman is saying based on poorly-defined-but-rigidly-enforced rules about what she should be putting in or on her body, you’re part of the problem of objectification, not the solution.
I’m loathe to use Miley Cyrus as a touchpoint to criticize slut-shaming, because to me her performance was pretty disturbing from an aesthetic and racial standpoint, see Jezebel for more on that point. But, having been asked to comment on Mileygate, I’ll try to use her performance to clear up some misconceptions about feminism.
When you objectify someone, you stop considering them as a full person with agency who deserves respect. Objectification is wrong. Some people have a difficult time seeing someone as a sexual being and a full person at the same time. One solution to men who can’t see a woman as a sexual being and a person at the same time is to hide away women’s sexuality from these men. See burqas in Africa the Middle East. Another solution is to encourage women to wear what they want, even if it’s a teddy-bear teddy at the VMA’s, and educate men and women that inside that teddy is a real person with real thoughts and feelings.
It really is that simple. And if you can’t see which is the better option, for women and for men, I don’t really know what to do for you.