My Problem with Miley

Everyone has been talking about Miley Cyrus a lot lately.  Good for her.  She has certainly made strides toward separating herself from her innocent, Disney image.  Unfortunately, she has accomplished this the way Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, and pretty much every other female celebrity has: by constantly portraying herself in a hyper-sexualized manner. 


I’ll be the first to admit that Miley looks great, and obviously she should wear whatever she wants to wear and she can swing around in her underwear on a huge pendulum if she wants to.  The depressing thing is just that with only a few exceptions, this has been essentially the only way that female singers have ever succeeded in capturing the attention of the public, and that once they have captured everyone’s attention, they continue to use their bodies as the primary way to express who they are.  Miley and her predecessors have made femininity synonymous with sex. 


My problem with Miley isn’t that she’s wandering around half naked, making out with inanimate objects.  It’s that that’s all she’s doing.  I want to know that Miley stands for more than her sexuality–that she has another side to her, one that curls up by the fireplace reading Proust or playing the guitar.  There must be a way to strike a balance in popular culture when it comes to representing “femininity” or “womanhood”.  While people will probably always like sex, and sex will probably always sell, isn’t there a way to make a music video that celebrates some other aspect of femininity and personhood?  Now that Miley has everyone’s eyes on her, it would be great if she could use that to show the world that she has a brain, that she is independent, and that her art is about more than just prancing around so that people can look at her.  Permanently adopting a type of behavior and dress for the express purpose of being looked at means giving up personal agency, so it would be great if the women in the spotlight could teach us all a new, healthier lesson about femininity one of these days.