I recently saw a post on Facebook that one of my friends had "liked". It was one of those topical pages, and the guy running it made me think of one of those crazy dudes who walks down the street talking to himself and violently swinging his arms at imaginary flies. In the status, he left a link to the new Miley Cyrus video for her song, "We Can't Stop". His thoughts were pretty warped. He started off by saying something along the lines of, "Miley Cyrus or Manly or whatever the hell that butch bimbo who won't shut her mouth's name is...." then proceeded to go off about how Ms. Cyrus is a drug addict and a slut and a bad example for children. Needless to say, the entire thing made me a bit livid, and reading the ensuing comments from other well-wishers only cemented in my mind how truly cruel and ignorant some people can be. Nearly every comment was some kind of insult, the most offensive ones calling her a slut, a whore, a crackhead, a tramp and, bizarrely enough, Satan's granddaughter. This vitriol was brought about by the assertion that Ms. Cyrus' behavior makes her an unfit role model for young girls.
I want you to stop and really think about that for a moment; these people, these supposed adults, many of whom I'm sure have children of their own, are calling a young woman they've never met derogatory names and claiming she is the bad example to children.
It's almost enough to make you laugh, and it would probably be quite funny were it not so tragically sad.
Now, I saw that my friend had liked this status, but I decided to leave it alone. She is a Christian with strong beliefs of her own, and we'd engaged in spirited but respectful debates about religion before. I genuinely thought she was a good person, and respected her attitude toward life even if our beliefs were vastly different. She was what I would consider a liberal Christian, one who believes homosexuals deserve equal rights. I ignored the religious posts and just enjoyed occasionally seeing her take on an issue.
Today, however, things took a turn. As I was browsing through my Newsfeed, I came to her latest update:
"Just watch Miley's new video..... Yes Miley only God can judge you but that doesn't mean you can do whatever you want. Wow she's just Britney'd her self. All the Disney Girl's go ho."
Just for the record, I don't normally enjoy arguing with people. I like a good debate almost as much as I enjoy pie (and I fucking love pie), but trying to combat ignorance like this is draining to me, and I like to avoid it whenever possible. I don't like internet fights. But when it comes to certain topics, I find myself unable to keep from voicing my opinions. This behavior is abhorrent to me, and I don't feel those who participate in it should be given free reign to do so without any fear of recrimination. What follows is a word-for-word recounting of the conversation (my comments in black, the friend's in red):
"I disagree. Within reason, she CAN do anything she wants. I don't understand how judging her is anyone else's business."
"I'm saying that if you say no one but God can judge you then she better understand God doesn't agree with her behavior and she claims to be Christian then she should know what shes doing is wrong. The whole song is about doing drugs, sex, and basically living like you have n one to answer to. So she's either given up her blief system or she's a hypocrit."
"She's 20. It might sound like a cop out, but the human brain doesn't complete development until the age of 25. I think back to the world (way) I felt and thought when I was 20 and it's like looking at a completely different person. I'm honestly having a hard time figuring out why so many people seem so bothered by what she's doing and saying. Is it hurting you in some way? If people spent a little more time worrying about what's on their own doorstep and a little less time worrying about what's on everyone else's, the world would be a much more peaceful place.
Wasn't it Christ who advised compassion, understanding, and acceptance? Seems to me there's enough hypocrisy to go around."
"As a Christian we're supposed to advise her of her wrong doin in a loving way. Not encourage her to be continuing to do what she is. She's a supposed Role Model and I doubt if you had a daughter instead of a son you'd want her listening and watch Miley's behavior."
"Oh, so being snotty and calling her names is advising her in a loving way?
I'm sorry, her "wrong doing"? You've decided she's behaving the wrong way, so she deserves your censure?
Don't presume to know my parenting, K___. Drugs and sex do not bother me. I've allowed my son to swear for most of his life, and I'm fully aware that he may experiment with drugs when he's older. I'm not going to condone the behavior, but as his parent, the most I can hope to do is guide him in the way I think appropriate and hope I've provided him with the tools necessary to make the right decision for him. I'm also fully aware that he's going to make mistakes in early adulthood. It is not my job to judge him. If I had a daughter instead of a son, I would hope that I'd provided her with the tools to respect herself enough to make better decisions than Ms. Cyrus has. Would I allow her to watch the music videos? Yes. I don't agree with censorship in any form. The only people who are worried about their daughters following in Cyrus' footsteps might be worried with good reason; children don't seek guidance from outside sources if they have it at home."
"Miley will never hear me. Saying she's gone Ho is what seems to be what hollywood does to all the young women. turning them into sex objects. If I was out doing drugs, sleeping around, etc and then calling my self a Christian I'd be a hypocrite. You'd no doubt think that too. I'm just tired of people saying only God can judge me and living like there isn't one. If you don't believe in God don't make such statementam lets just agree to disagree."
"Just because someone will never hear your judgments doesn't mean you're not a bad person for spewing them. Slut shaming is reprehensible, particularly when it's other women doing the shaming. You may think it's OK to talk about someone behind their back, but I do not. Bullying is bullying whether you're face to face with your victim or on the other side of the continent.
If Hollywood turned Miley into what she is, wouldn't that mean she's no longer responsible for her actions, thus making your criticisms of her moot points? She's either a willful, hypocritical ho or a victim of the Hollywood machine.
No, actually, I wouldn't think someone was a hypocrite if they considered themselves a Christian while having premarital sex and doing g drugs. Just a difference in our beliefs, but I'd appreciate it if you'd stop assuming how I would react in a given situation. Plenty of people I know believe in god while living their lives in ways that are not traditionally "Christian". This does not make them bad people. If you truly believe the hateful rhetoric you're spewing, I wonder how it is you can defend homosexual Christians.
I don't understand how she's living like there is no god. Just because she's not living the way you think she should live? You should be grateful that arrogance, hypocrisy, presumption, and self-righteousness aren't deadly sins. Because you'd definitely be right down in the muck with the rest of us."
"And I'm removing you from my friends list now. Not because we have different beliefs, but because I once thought you were above this kind of childish, petty behavior."
So there you have it. The conversation that put me in a pretty volatile mood for the rest of the day. This is my most recent run in with female misogyny, but it is definitely not the only time I've witnessed it. We all see it on a daily basis, as a matter of fact. The entire world is populated by women who are perpetuating misogyny in some form or other. This article from the Irish Times actually spells out a few of the myriad ways we women are hurting ourselves and our own cause by adhering to some bullshit societal standard of feminine worth. If you break it down into its base components, many feel that women are put on this earth to look good, make babies, sleep with only one man our entire lives, cook, and clean. Yet even within those confines, we're regularly demeaned and devalued, often by each other. Women are supposed to look good, but women who do look good are often insulted and ostracized by other women due to nothing more than jealousy and insecurity. When I watch that Miley Cyrus video, I think two things; 1) She's pretty and 2) This song bites. When other women watch the video and come back with statements about Ms. Cyrus' promiscuity, I come to a single conclusion regarding their motives; jealousy. If Ms. Cyrus wearing semi-revealing clothing and gyrating on a couch means she's a slut and we should all call her out on it, why aren't there women throwing hissy fits about the film Magic Mike? Why aren't we calling Channing Tatum is a promiscuous whoreson and demanding he set a better example for our children? Why is there a societal pressure for moral guidance placed on the shoulders of young females and only young females? Why aren't young men held to the same standards?
The answer is as simple as it is chilling; saying that a young female celebrity is a "role model" who should behave accordingly is nothing more than a cover for rampant female insecurity. Women don't like being upstaged by younger, more attractive models. They say a young woman should behave because they know that a young woman showing off the goods will attract men, and those in the righteously indignant camp are instinctively afraid they will lose their own hunter/protector to one of those young women who has no problem displaying what she's got. Thus begins the uprising of vitriolic vomit on social networking sites, blogs, in emails, text, phone calls, etc. calling the young woman a slut, a whore, a bimbo, a tramp, a floozy....because if they shame her enough, she might feel chastised enough to quit, and then they'll feel secure again. Until the next slut comes along and the cycle begins anew.
When a man slut shames it is for control. Men began the practice of slut shaming in order to control women and their bodies. If they made us feel bad for enjoying sex, we would be less likely to seek it out, thus protecting their status as the only male in the vicinity who has regular access to that particular vagina. Women also slut shame out of a sense of control, but not to have access to a particular vagina. When Woman A slut shames Woman B, it is Woman A's attempt at making Woman B's vagina inaccessible to other men. The motives differ slightly, but the goal is always the same; make a woman feel ashamed of her sexuality so she won't use it.
Interestingly enough, there is also an element of insecurity when it comes to men who slut shame.The man I mentioned at the beginning of this piece is probably sexually attracted to Ms. Cyrus when he thinks he shouldn't be. He questions his own manhood and lashes out at Ms. Cyrus because he has a small dick or can't get it up or whatever. When viewing the motives for slut shaming side by side, it comes as a bit of a shock to those who haven't previously considered it. Men and women slut shame for the same reasons; insecurity and control (and a desire for control itself stems from insecurity). We harp on men who use such language against women, yet we employ the exact same tactics for the exact same reason. How have we, as women, not only allowed this to come to pass, but also failed in any attempt to put an end to it? I've been attempting to do my part, mostly by expressing opinions on sites like this one, but I'm not sure it will ever be enough. The behavior is passed down from one generation to the next, and it seems there will always be females who are all too willing to allow it to continue. Case in point: a couple of years ago on Facebook (yes, again), a young cousin of mine (still in high school) went off on a rather spiteful diatribe about some "slut" she "hated". It was a nasty, hateful message. Now, I have no idea if the girl it was aimed at was a good person, but that's hardly the point. I made it clear to young D that I was disappointed in her because girls slut shaming each other is not OK in my book. To me, any woman who participates in slut shaming comes across looking far worse than the one being shamed. After I made this statement, there was silence on the post for a time. Then, out of fucking nowhere, her boyfriend pops up and comments, with derisive snark, something like, "Yeah, OK" with an arrow pointing up to my comment. And then? Then a few little girls joined in and giggled with him about it. "Oh, look at us, we can make fun of our own sex right along with you, you manly man! We're so silly and you're so superior and funny! Tell us how to live!"
Teenagers, however, are one story. Adults are another matter entirely. Adults are supposed to know better. We are, at some point, supposed to grow up and start behaving like thinking, rational creatures. So why is it that thought and reason and basic self-awareness are so deplorably absent? Why am I witnessing grown men and women who behave no better (and sometimes far worse) than their children? And why is it so goddamn difficult for otherwise intelligent, thinking individuals to stop and comprehend the idea that they just might be wrong?
I won't go into the religious argument against Ms. Cyrus' behavior, mostly because the religious argument stems from the moral, and the moral stems from the place I've already dissected. Sex is not immoral. Sex is a positive, healthy part of life and necessary for the survival of our species. The fact that there are still people who seek to make it something else tells me we've not come far at all as a species.
As for drugs....well, the last time I checked, there weren't any passages in the Bible, old or new testament, which say anything about the dropping of acid, popping of E, smoking of pot, snorting of cocaine, or shooting of heroine. I know that the "your body is a temple unto God" bit could form a basis for a theological argument against drug use. But seeing as how this particular drug argument came from a woman who is both overweight and tattooed, I feel any attempts by her to deride someone else's bodily self-abuse would fail spectacularly. I mean, you can't get much more hypocritical than that. Or maybe somebody can....
"Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo." ~ H.G. Wells