If you’ve gone online in the past two days, you’ve probably noticed headlines about Miley Cyrus’ dance number at the MTV Awards Sunday night. To say it was memorable is understating it. As Robin Thicke’s mom said, “The problem is, now I can never unsee it.”
Reactions have been plastered everywhere, ranging from 140 characters of disbelief on Twitter to lengthy blogs condemning, critiquing and grappling with what took place.
One of the most popular reactions is a post entitled Dear Daughter, Let Miley Cyrus Be a Lesson to You. And while most reactions focus on Miley Cyrus, this one seems to be the rare voice drawing attention to Robin Thicke’s role in all this.
Since healthy sexuality is what I’m about, I know I can’t go radio silent on one of the biggest headline grabbers of the summer.
But as I read everyone’s posts and Tweets, one thought kept tugging at the corner:
What if I meet Miley one day? Would we be able to be friends after what I wrote?
Would she feel safe to be herself or immediately defensive against someone who made character assumptions without knowing her beyond headlines and hype?
And the bigger question that no one seems to be asking:
What about our culture has created an environment where a 20 year old girl feels her best option for attention is to thrust, gyrate and grind her nearly nude body on national television in front of millions?
As young adults, we’ve grown up in a world that tells us restraint is old-fashioned, exploration and self-expression to any degree is a good thing, and anything is permissible as long as it doesn’t hurt another person.
Having thrown out the input and expectations of the past, standards, morality and sexual mores are now determined by the individual.
The message threaded through all of this:
Your value is tied to your sexuality.
How well you can wield that in order to manipulate, captivate and control will determine how much attention you get.
And attention is power.
Why then are we so shocked when someone follows that line of thought just a little further than what is currently the norm?
Miley doesn’t need my judgment. She’s received plenty of that the last few days.
Instead, my hope for Miley is that she would have authentic relationships that ground her by affirming, correcting and challenging her to be more when the world pressures her to be less,
That she would have friends who love her enough to have those hard conversations calling out destructive behavior,
And that there are people who she knows are committed to being around beyond the fame and money, people who care about her, and not merely what they can get.