Many are pointing toward Miley Cyrus' "suggestive" dancing, simulated lesbian kiss, and skimpy costumes, as if any of it make intrusive photos of a 17-year-old's crotch admissible. But most irksome is the presupposition that Miley's sexuality doesn't belong to her.
On Monday, Perez Hilton linked to yet another crotch shot of the pop star, seemingly having a wardrobe malfunction—during a performance at Sunday's MuchMusic Awards—that supposedly exposed her labia. I say "supposedly" because in my professional opinion (having worked as a graphic designer) the photo in question looks like a poorly Photoshopped attempt to cash in on an existing scandal. As PopWatch's Whitney Pastorek says, "The 'offending' area doesn't make a lot of anatomical sense."
But whether it was doctored or not, it's gross that Reuters would even offer such a photo for sale. Fox News contacted the company to question its decision to run the image, and the answer was "because it was taken at a public event that was seen by hundreds of people." Reuters defense was similar—yet not as offensive—as Perez Hilton's, when he appeared on The Joy Behar Show last week to discuss the first (admittedly fake) crotch shot of Miley. He said that posting the picture was OK because it was "in keeping with her shocking behavior of late" and because there were paparazzi present and since she's "been around the block" she should have known that. He also said that posting the photo:
…was not anything worse than Miley herself has been doing recently, from grinding up on her 40-something-year-old director to pole-dancing to all the over-sexualized things that she has been doing and turning herself into this creature.
(Aside from the irony that Perez suddenly thinks that he's the morality police, it's laughable that he would accuse someone of being a creature. He's despicable, and an idiot to boot.)
Aside from the bizarre assumption that a minor should have no expectations of privacy if she's behaving and dressing a certain way in front of other people, there's also another conversation happening, in which adults are trying to intellectualize and analyze the sartorial decisions of a 17-year-old girl, and ultimately coming to the conclusion that she shouldn't experiment with her sexuality because she's just a kid and she doesn't know what she's doing. My question, then, is: How is she supposed to learn?
In a post on HuffPo, Michael Winship says, "At 17, Ms. Cyrus already seems to have lost her entire childhood, careening into her majority like a runaway bus with a bomb on board." Wouldn't that describe pubescent girls in a nutshell? So, how does that make Miley's sexual awakening any different from most teenagers? It's not. Yet people continue to clutch their pearls and compare female sexuality to danger, without considering that Miley isn't too young, but that such notions are old.
(Also, talk about crotches—that Winship guy is crotchety. He thinks that—as a role model—Miley should "scrape off the increasingly heavy makeup.")
The fact of the matter is that before Miley Cyrus was even born, Madonna didn't just shape but completely redesigned the pop-cultural landscape by questioning sexual double standards, toying with imagery, and repeatedly pushing the envelope of what the public considered to be acceptable behavior from females. She often received backlash, but in many ways, Madonna succeeded, at least just a little bit, in her mission of liberating women to express, not repress, their sexuality. What we are witnessing now with Miley Cyrus is the first pop star—born after the publication of Madonna's coffee table book Sex—to literally transition from childhood to adulthood in this new cultural climate and take hold of her sexuality by the crotch. It's sort of monumental.
And yeah, maybe she doesn't know what she's doing all the time, and maybe she'll make mistakes. But isn't that par for the course? And aren't they her mistakes to make? The only difference here is that while most people navigate through their teens by sort of fumbling around in the dark, Miley is instead doing it blindfolded, while the spotlight is on, and we're all watching. But that doesn't make it OK for us to take pictures between her legs when she's not looking.
She's not completely clueless, though. In an interview with Access Hollywood earlier this month, she talked about the double standards present in critiques of her sexually-charged performances, saying, "For girls, it's always going to be harder." It's depressing how right she is.
Miley Cyrus gets racy in barely-there stage outfit days after saying she's 'not trying to be slutty' [NY Daily News]
Perez Hilton tweets another "racy" Miley Cyrus photo [PopWatch]
Why did Reuters choose to sell this shot of minor Miley Cyrus? [Fox News]
Now Miley Cyrus simulates lesbian kiss in front of family audience on Britain's Got Talent [Daily Mail]
Perez Hilton Tweeted Another Photo of Miley Cyrus' Crotch [Gawker]
Miley Cyrus Shows More Skin in Latest Sexy Outfit [E!]
Miley, We Hardly Knew Ye [HuffPo]