Friday, October 4, 2013

Weighing in on Miley Cyrus & Sinead O'Connor

Media misrepresentations of 1970s feminism is worth a few books, one of which would have to address how Third Wave feminism (an intellectual current among elite women) rewrote the history of the earlier social movement based on those media slanders. One of the charges is that 1970s feminists were sex-negative. To make this kind of accusation, one would have to be completely ignorant of the women’s movement & of the entire political context of the 1960s & 1970s--of the fight for birth control, of the sexual revolution, of feminism’s exposure of pedophilia, of the movement’s campaigns & clinics to educate women about sexuality & reproductive health.

One can well understand why the media would vilify the movement about sexuality; what is not understandable is why women who identify with feminism would accept those lies, thereby exposing their intellectual laziness & lack of scholarship. 1970s feminism opposed & exposed the commodification of female sexuality by attempting to free it from the dichotomous straightjacket of “Madonna vs. whore” which is a psychological imperative of misogyny & of the commercial traffic in women’s sexuality.

Media of course is the servant of commerce--which by no means intended to abandon its advertising policy of “sex sells.” It’s no coincidence at all that the media began peddling a view of feminists as blue-nosed prudes; earlier they portrayed feminists as man-hating lesbians & spinsters too ugly to get a man. And it’s no coincidence that the entertainment industry began peddling sexual exhibitionism as female empowerment. It was a counteroffensive against feminism--& performers like Madonna made their fortunes cashing in on it.

Raunch & sexual exhibitionism are not sex-positive & they are certainly not empowering. Nor are they intended to be. They are intended to legitimize the Madonna vs. whore dichotomy. Which is why the entertainment industry continues to create such performers from second-rate talents with first-rate ambitions & the media continues to act as outraged Presbyterians.

The latest in this sexual charade is Miley Cyrus--where those who consider her performance vulgar & puerile (appealing to naughty little boys) rather than orgasmic & erotic are accused of slut shaming. What’s not to be ashamed of? Other performers like Sinead O’Connor were offered the same blandishments of notoriety & fortune to bump & grind & they declined--preferring to trade on their talent.

The media vilified O’Connor after her 1992 Saturday Night Live (SNL) performance (where she tore up a photo of the pope to protest the Vatican’s criminal collusion in child sexual abuse). SNL disgraced itself in apologies to the pope. Madonna, who had already publicly criticized O’Connor’s lack of commercial sexuality, went after her with a vengeance. Of course, Madonna had made her deal with the devil to become the standard-bearer of smut peddling for notoriety, the role model for performers like Cyrus. (While Madonna excoriated O’Connor she was also promoting her pornographic sex book.) Even the mafia’s private jester, Frank Sinatra, weighed in against O’Connor. Cynicism like this is seldom so raucous & banal. O’Connor may have been battered by the opprobrium but weathered the storm admirably.

There is a sharp exchange going on now between Cyrus & O’Connor & it’s of interest because it exposes the hypocrisy of the media & the entertainment industry & puts the ugly Madonna vs. whore dichotomy under a spotlight. Those who think this is just another case of slut shaming & that Cyrus should be defended for her choices are being manipulated. In her exchange with O’Connor, she has joined the chorus of braying jackasses who defended the Vatican after the SNL incident, insulted those with mental health problems, & shown herself to be a rather vicious young woman.

Many unfortunate souls may believe the crap portrayed by Cyrus & other such female performers is eroticism which plumbs the depths of female sexuality. Take a cold shower & you’ll get over it! Then find yourself a good sex therapist.

(Photo of O’Connor ripping up photo of Pope John Paul II on SNL, October 1992)

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