Miley Cyrus Isn't "Hurting Women," The Patriarchy Is

Categories: Miley Cyrus

Miley_Cyrus_screenshot.jpg
Screenshot via "We Can't Stop"
Feminism! It still exists even when Miley writhes around like so.
On Monday, the New York Observer published a column on Miley Cyrus by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Orthodox Judaism's answer to Dr. Phil, asking "Is Miley Cyrus Harming Women?". Boteach pontificates frequently on sex, love and morality, but this time he reached way, way up on his tippy-toes and attempted to solve the riddle known as the existence of Miley; namely, is the young lady hurting other ladies, with her relentless display of her vagina and breasts and such? Does a woman's brain, as the sub-hed to his article asks "stand a chance against her genitals?" (And does that mean there's going to be some sort of awful, squishy cage-match between those two parts of my body later? Because I am not ready.)

Boteach probably didn't write the terrible headline or sub-hed on that story, but he's certainly responsible for the rest of the mess that follows. The basic premise of the piece is a pretty old song. Perhaps you've heard it: when young women like Miley run around in their undergarments or--gasp!--their altogether, they're harming all women. Or rather, they're hurting the image that men have of all women, making it harder for men to respect us.

He writes:

See also: Miley Cyrus Redeems Herself on SNL

[M]y problem with Miley is simple and fundamental. Her essential message is that whatever talents a woman may have, her greatest asset is her vagina. She may be able to sing, but her breasts rather than her vocal cords are her vital organ. She may be a nuclear physicist, but her butt rather than her brain is what makes her really attractive. She may be able to dance, but it's her legs rather than her agility that really wows. And she may a religious scholar. But her genitals rather than her piety is what begs the world's interest.

I have no problem with women being sex objects. The book I'm about to publish, Kosher Lust, is all about the need for wives to remain sex objects to their husbands. But only so long as that's not all they are.

It's fine for ladies to "remain sex objects," in other words, as long as they only present that way to their partners. Otherwise, Boteach requires that they display themselves in such a way that "the world" (read: men) doesn't focus unduly on their breasts or vaginas. Because the message being received by those men is shaped by women, not the dudes doing the looking.

Boteach also makes a weird assumption that a lot of pearl-clutching culture critics do with pop performers: that Miley's "message" about her vagina applies to the rest of us women. He argues, "What the Miley Cyruses of this world are doing is stripping women of an intrinsic identity and making them a means to the libidinous man's ends."

That's right--what Miley Cyrus does with her vagina apparently reverberates into mine, and yours, and all the rest of the vaginas. When she wears something small that reminds you she has female genitalia, she hurts the standing of all women, including me, my grandmother, and the ladies from Golden Girls.

But Miley's vagina has nothing to do with me or mine; the way she presents herself has nothing to do with me. What a very young, addled pop star with an impressively Gene Simmons-esque tongue wears onstage has nothing to do with how the rest of us see ourselves, or how the world sees us. Even if Miley's deliberately trying to send a message that her "talents" lie in her tits, that doesn't mean the same message applies to Janet Reno or Amy Poehler or Phyllis Schlalfly, or the lady who delivers my mail. (Although I'm sure they all have wonderful, talented breasts.)

This is all so obvious, isn't it? Maybe I should've skipped this whole piece and just made a long, resounding fart noise. But we're here now, and I'll reach way back to preschool to sum it up, since the rabbi might have skipped over some basic lessons about "me" versus "you" and my parts versus yours. We all have different things to say about our vaginas, or nothing to say about them whatsoever. We all get to speak for our own vaginas (or they speak for themselves, if we're in a horrible Vagina Monologue nightmare I have thrice-weekly.) If the dudes in One Direction can appear in public looking like smoldering, rumpled, pubescent starfish and not harm masculinity, then Miley should be able to rock that teddy bear teddy without doing irreparable harm to the Standing of All Women Everywhere.

That's not to say that Miley and her handlers don't occasionally do real harm; her twerking performance at this year's VMAs was pretty bad, and is, by now, well-covered territory: it objectified the bodies of the black dancers around her and appropriated a culture she doesn't belong to and uses only for tired shock value. She's also trying uncomfortably hard to negate her own privilege as a young, wealthy white woman from a big-deal country music family. She's glommed onto what she sees as visible symbols of black culture, or rather the imagery of Dirty South hip-hop, though it's not clear if she quite sees the difference--gold grills and nail art and plentiful, oblivious use of the word "ratchet."

See also: Blondie's Debbie Harry Has Some Advice for Miley Cyrus

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62 comments
Robert Cardinelle
Robert Cardinelle

She couldn't give a rat's ass either way. What she cares about is that people remain obsessed and vicariously living through her little sexcapades down puberty row.

nisahstar
nisahstar

Leave Miley alone damn. Get your life and stay out of hers since ya'll don't like her and despise her so much. OMG it's sad that she can't be who the hell she wants to be without getting judged. Shit I like the "New" Miley. Apparently most of the world does too because it's obviously getting her paid!!!! GO ON GIRL 

Vh Hurtado
Vh Hurtado

every vagina should have a voice. some speak louder than others

Judith Sirreal
Judith Sirreal

Without low culture it is hard to recognize high art. Glad she is free to express herself, though I don't find her at all attractive.

Luis Orozco
Luis Orozco

Does her vagina have a tongue sticking sideways out of it?

Emma Vilma Griffith
Emma Vilma Griffith

There's too much attention placed on this hoe.....who taught her this? And why is society placing her with such high regard. She is not a good role model. Why must we be exposed to this crap? I don't want to see this sht

Spencer Tiberius Rappaport
Spencer Tiberius Rappaport

As a guy all i can say is...if you tell a woman to cover up, you're suppressing her sexuality. If you go yea baby, express yourself TAKE IT OFF!...your a misogynist. There's so much social divide over really non-important factors of life. We all knew Miley was going to get this way as soon as she left Disney, we alllll knew...and look, here we are, years later and boom, she's exactly what we all thought she would be, another young girl who was popular as a child and wanted to "grow up" in the limelight. Like the article said, soon she'll be gone, probably replaced by someone new... its a cycle people. No way out of it. Seems the tales are true. Women. Can't live with em and can't live without em

Bill San Antonio
Bill San Antonio

she's certainly not helping, but then again, i'm a guy, so i can't have an opinion on things like this without being crucified as a misogynist.

Brandon Fizer
Brandon Fizer

If I have to look at her cheap doll moonface in every other article on my feed this year I'm unsubscribing from you all. Seriously. Please make it stop. No one cares about this little girl.

downtownbrown
downtownbrown

Loving patriarchy!  Keep bleating about misogyny.  Maybe Jezebel will call you for your opinion.

whateveryousay
whateveryousay topcommenter

I'm not going to lie. Her vajayjay is her most valuable asset. 

Cyndi  Hacker
Cyndi Hacker

Seriously, a possessive error? Where the hell are the editors here?

brooklynbreeder
brooklynbreeder

@villagevoice nobody gave Ariana Grande shit for "objectifying" black backup dudes. Miley C is glorifying asses of all sizes, not demeaning.

robzy1234
robzy1234

Law # 1

Let’s degrade/democrat ourselves.

GPLHTS
Godless, Perverse, Lying, Hypocritical, Toxic, Sinners, 
I believe the Pope when he said homosexuals need to repent their sins.

Fact
1. You are not born homosexual you are persuaded to be
homosexual. 
2. Homosexuality, Bestiality, Pedophilia are sexual malfunctions.
3. Homosexuality is in the top 10 ways to die.
4. 20,000 U.S. people die annually of HIV/aids. 
5. 70,000 U.S. people are infected by HIV/aids annually.
5.1. One out of five HIV host do not know they are HIV hosts.
5.2. There are TWO Million U.S. HIV hosts. 
6. $25,000,000,000 (BILLION) annually is given to U.S. homosexuals to promote hiv/aids.
7. HIV is transmitted by all bodily fluids: semen, blood, saliva, tear drops, and sweat. 
8. Refugee's from other countries not checked for HIV.
9. $25,000,000,000 billion means some GOV people have HIV/aids.

Planned parent hood is having a Two for One Abortion New Years Special, bring your UNBORN/NEWBORN and also bring one of your GRANDPARENTS . Open Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays. ( $1000 per abortion X 1,000,000 abortions per year = $1,000,000,000 (One Billion U.S. tax Dollars).

Respectfully,

Rob

Al_nava
Al_nava

Clearly the rabbi demeans women to the status of their sexual body parts, but also, this author, Anne Merian, is clearly a Second-wave Feminist clinging onto the word "objectification", which itself originated from Marxist economic philosophy and much more applicable there. We Third-wave and Post-modern Feminists support Miley Cyrus and use "objectification" to apply only to exploited workers in Capitalism and corporatist economy. 


Gloria Steinem, one of the original founders and leaders of Second-wave Feminism, has evolved to Third-wave Feminism and Post-modern Feminism, unlike the many Second-wavers clinging onto their old out-dated "objectification" cries. 


"
Gloria Steinem Speaks Out About Miley Cyrus, Ends The Debate Forever"

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/14/gloria-steinem-miley-cyrus_n_4097006.html 


Michael Martin
Michael Martin

Oh, are we still being entertained by Mr. Boteach's clown act? What a useless attention-whore he is.

JoeD
JoeD

The Patriarchy? LOL! More rad fem bullshit. If I hear that dumb term used once again to describe some evil cabal of males bent on oppressing women I'm going to laugh. Liberal feminists are morons, and have completely destroyed women. And to say Miley's act does not influence young women to act the same way and that it doesnt send the message that your tits and ass and a slutty display is a good career move, you're blind. Im not surprised though that the Voice believes such horse shit, since the routinely hold up pornstars like Stoya as a paragon of feminism and achievement because when she's not sucking off James Deen she sometimes reads books and uses words like "heteronormative". The left wing/Frankfurt school project is dead and now must be buried. 

JoeD
JoeD

The Patriarchy? LOL! More rad fem bullshit. If I hear that dumb term used once again to describe some evil cabal of males bent on oppressing women I'm going to laugh. Liberal feminists are morons, and have completely destroyed women. 

rexmerritt
rexmerritt

Miley's young and having fun. A great many of her critics seemed to have conveniently forgotten their own youthful (mis)adventures. They're taking her far more seriously than she's taking herself. Meaning the joke's on them. Just ask Madonna. Having already done it before, she can explain it all to today's too cool for the room crowd.

Wendy Wellyouknow
Wendy Wellyouknow

No she is boring the shit out of women. I cannot stand her crappy music and lack of intelligence , her tongue sticking out which I would like to glue to something and um I wish she would go back into her mother's vagina and fucking stay there........

Jennifer Convery
Jennifer Convery

You're so wrong. She's the picture keys dream come true giving them exactly what they want bending over and twerking just like they want. Her degrading/racist use of minority women dwarfs sushi home Sol over not to mention her promotion of ecstasy makes for a sad case. Not to mention her blatant co-opting of black culture for her pathetically mediocre talent to get rich is embarrassing. You really want to try to make her feminist hero? good luck getting anyone to believe that crap

bathshevagladstone
bathshevagladstone

I think the idea of feminism has truly eluded the writer of this article. The idea of feminism was that a woman could have equal footing with a man, using the same tools. There is a difference in using sex as a weapon/tool in one's arsenal as opposed to offering up nothing but a peep show, verily using one's sexuality to help objectify and perpetrate the myth that the only way for a woman to get ahead is to dumb down and show some T&A.

Joynell Barbour
Joynell Barbour

Miley is a just a stupid kid. I can live without hearing about her antics for the rest of my life

Martha Hicks Leta
Martha Hicks Leta

Shhh. If you stop talking about her, she'll go away. I'm hiding this post, and any others about her. I don't want her in my life, my head or crapping up my news feed.

spotlight05
spotlight05

@robzy1234 Proud to be a raging homophobe, wingnut teabagger moron?  And what the fuck does this have to do with Miley Cyrus?

JoeD
JoeD

@Al_nava Third wavers use the term "objectification" to describe men reducing women to their sexual organs. The fact that Miley Cyrus has become a rallying cry for feminists shows just how intellectually and morally bankrupt the movement is. Feminism should have ended after the second wave when women secured an equal place in the workplace, instead they moved on to wave 3 whose goal is the submission of the male sex through constant whining about fictional constructs like "rape culture" and "patriarchy". Men now have no choice but to fight back. 

spotlight05
spotlight05

Proud to hate your own gender, elitist Rock Snob?

Anna_Merlan_Voice
Anna_Merlan_Voice

My understanding of feminist theory and praxis is just dandy, although I do thank you for your concern. In third-wave feminism, sexuality and sexual presentation are part of a woman's right to self-determination. You can decide that Miley's performance is "nothing but a peep show." That's cool. You don't have to do it, and neither do I, thank God. I get chilly easily. 


Also, really? Because Miley takes her clothes off, that "perpetuates the myth" that women can only get ahead by showing T&A? All women? Astronauts? Chemists? Librarians? 


Again, like Shmuley, you're drawing universal conclusions for all women based on Miley's behavior. If you applied that same standard to a man, it would be laughable.  

Al_nava
Al_nava

@Anna_Merlan_Voice You are correct. @bathshevagladstone is clearly a Second-wave Feminist, which is similar to Conservative-Feminism and religious patriarchy on the topic of sexuality. 

Gloria Steinem, one of the leaders of Second-wave Feminism, has evolved to Third-wave Feminism and Post-modern Feminism, unlike the many Second-wavers clinging onto their old out-dated "objectification" cries. 


"
Gloria Steinem Speaks Out About Miley Cyrus, Ends The Debate Forever"

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/14/gloria-steinem-miley-cyrus_n_4097006.html 

bathshevagladstone
bathshevagladstone

@Anna_Merlan_Voice  Actually, yes it is a perpetuation, because until we see Justin Bieber twerking in a "thong" that displays his rump and hear lil' wayne singing about the pleasures of getting it on with an astronaut as opposed to a "bitch" in a thong there is an issue. And you did miss the point of Rabbi Boteach's words, he is not blaming Miley Cyrus for the state of things, simply put, he's using her as an example--a talking point, if you will for an honest discussion and to draw attention to the issue. And while we're on the subject, even the common lay person can name about at least ten living philosophers okay maybe five and not one of them would be a women. Ask yourself why at the last convention held every five years by the world congress of philosophy there wasn't one woman speaker, and the time before that and the time before?  It's like they're unicorns. Maybe they should twerk to be heard. And we can always say we don't want universals--but that's a cop out, much like straddling a fence or turning a blind eye. And yes, if I were to apply the same standards to a man it would be laughable, which was my point--or didn't you grasp that?

Anna_Merlan_Voice
Anna_Merlan_Voice

Although, you know, we do agree on one thing. I'm not arguing that Miley's choices are feminist, even in the broad, generous definition of choice feminism. But I'm also not interesting in policing anyone's sexual expression, including hers, no matter how tired I am of reading about the VMAs. 

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