Sexuality and Sexual Display: Reflecting on Miley Cyrus’ Behavior

As a fan of Miley Cyrus, I (unashamedly) follow her whereabouts on the tabloid site perezhilton.com. I recently came across this article, which included a conversation between TV personality Carson Daly and Perez Hilton discussing Cyrus’ “oversexualized image.” In fact, the newest issue of Rolling Stone features Cyrus in a pool, with slicked back hair and no clothes on. While Daley criticizes Rolling Stone for “rewarding” Cyrus’ (supposed) poor choices, Hilton argues that the magazine is simply trying to boost sales. I found Daley’s perspective on the subject quite problematic: since when is a display of sexuality synonymous with “streetwalker”? And more importantly, why is Cyrus’ recent behavior taken so offensively? Can society not handle a young woman in control of her body? Perhaps it relates back to Berger’s theory on nakedness v. nudity that he offers in “From Ways of Seeing”: “To be naked is to be oneself. To be nude is to be seen naked by others and yet not recognized for oneself” (39). Placed in this context, it seems that society is unable to accept Cyrus for who she is–either because they do not believe in who she is, or because they do not want to.

Berger, John. “Ways of Seeing.” The Feminism and Visual Culture Reader. Ed. Amelia Jones. New York: Routledge, 2003. 37-39. Print.

Hilton, Perez. “Did Miley Cyrus Deserve Her Rolling Stone Cover? Carson Daly and Perez Hilton Fight It Out On AMP!” Perezhilton.com. N.p., 24 Sept. 2013. Web. 25 Sept. 2013. <http://perezhilton.com/2013-09-24-miley-cyrus-rolling-stone-carson-daly-perez-hilton#sthash.qre4PyDC.dpbs&gt;.

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One thought on “Sexuality and Sexual Display: Reflecting on Miley Cyrus’ Behavior

  1. sabg1992

    When I watched Miley Cyrus’s performance on the VMA’S, I immediately had a strong reaction. I recall even gasping and placing my hand over my mouth in shock. I know I was reacting to the fact that not only was it Miley Cyrus, a former child star dancing on stage, she was giving the most seductive show I’ve ever seen performed on the VMA’s. I thought about your response a lot and although I am normally a huge proponent of women owning their bodies and their sexuality, in the context of this class, I thought about how her behavior might advertise to a huge audience how women should act. Although Miley has every right as a human being to project herself as a “streetwalker,” I do believe she has responsibility to the millions of fans that allowed her to become famous; that allowed her to become what she is. Is it possible that her extremely sexual dancing might project to women that this is how a beautiful woman should act? Perhaps they might think that in order to gain attention from men, they need to pattern their behavior after their role model – further polarizing gender binaries and defining what it means to act like a woman/act like a man. I think that women who have platforms like Miley Cyrus have the capacity to further perpetuate societal definitions of what it means to be feminine, and in this case, the definition isn’t exactly a good one.

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