October 12, 2010
Shame on you, Miley.
I'm totally not surprised that Ms. Cyrus is taking this route to stardom, but I am disappointed that this trend continues. Has her family not seen what has happened to other girls (yes, she's technically still a girl!) when they try this? Britney, Lindsay, Paris....has she learned nothing?
What is the lesson here - that in order to make it with less-than-stellar talent, you have to resort to writhing around on a bed in your underwear? Oh, and let's not forget - she's still SEVENTEEN! Never mind the fact that her parents think it's okay that she's already living with her older boyfriend.
I wonder sometimes what has happened to our "Free to Be You and Me" world. When I was growing up in the Seventies, I heard all kinds of pro-women talk. It was the era of the ERA, and women felt empowered. They'd had enough of being thought of as just men's playthings (or their servants). It was a time when Sesame Street encouraged learning for everyone equally - all races, abilities, genders and ages. Thinking back to when I was a kid, this all seemed normal and, well, right.
So what happened? Instead of "Maude" we've got "The Bachelor" and "Real Housewives" and "Rock of Love" (ad nauseum). We still have Sesame Street but it's been dumbed down considerably and it plays along other pap like "The Wiggles" (seriously?). Instead of "I am Woman" (which is a pretty terrible song, but at least it's got a halfway decent message), we've got "Break your Heart" by Tiao Cruz. Instead of "The Stepford Wives" we've got "Bride Wars".
I have two teenage nieces and my sister and brother in-law, along with me and my ultra-feminist mother, are doing our best to instill "can-do" attitudes that they can carry with them. I know family is the first line of defense in these situations, but I do worry that the positive messages they're hearing at home are being eroded by the crap they see all around them every single day.
So what do we do about it? Part of it is educating our BOYS as well. If boys are taught that girls are just people, that's a start. I'll even go so far as to say that an "I am Woman" mentality isn't that great; equality is far more important. Yes, at some point, biology is going to take over boys' thoughts and they'll start to see girls differently. But if "she's a cool girl" could replace "she's so hot" as far as how they think about girls, that would be fantastic. And if we teach our girls that you don't have to get a boy's attention by flaunting what you have, and that they don't have to put up with any sort of behavior that is contradictory to this mindset, that would also be a tremendous help.
Do we want to turn the clock back to 1952? Do you want your daughter to be a subservient wife instead of an equal partner in the relationship? If this sounds good to you, then just keep teaching her that showing off her body is the way to snag a man. Because we all know that the foundation to all wonderful relationships is how sexy you look, not your personality or thoughfulness or sharing. I think we should all strive for a world where gender means nothing. This probably won't happen in my lifetime, but maybe my nieces will have a better shot at it.