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Is Sexism Really a Notion of the Past?

Posted by: Mark Putney | October 25, 2013 | No Comment |


Millions saw the performance Miley Cyrus gave at the VMA’s on Aug. 25, and the reaction was very negative. Most viewers described the dance as vulgar, or even disgusting. It was nearly immediately that sexist comments exploded on the internet, saying that she belonged at home, or in the kitchen, even that women in general don’t belong on stage.  One tweet post-VMA’s from an anonymous tweeter said “Miley, I understand you can’t stop but you really need to.” MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski claimed Miley has confidence issues, is deeply troubled, and accused her of having an eating disorder. And while it’s true that her performance was quite raunchy, it was neither her song nor her idea of choreography.

Thicke’s song “Blurred Lines,” the object of scrutiny in this case, talks about consent being a gray area, and that when a women says no she really means yes. The video, in particular, objectified women to an offending point. At the VMA performance, Miley seemed to objectify Thicke, almost as if in retaliation to the video. This portrayal upset many viewers, and an uprising of sexist comments and slang were shot at, strangely enough, only 20-year-old Miley and not 36-year-old (married) Robin Thicke.

The objectification of women, however, is so much more than a few crude music videos. Somehow, even in this day and age, there is a certain population of people that seem to think women are to be used and thrown away. And still, in corporate work zones, women working 40-44 hours a week make roughly 84.6% of what men with similar hours make, and only 78.3% in a 60 hour work week compared to men with the same hours. In 2011, women held only 6.4% of the seats in the House of Representatives, a total of 29.

Another factor adding to the blatant objectification of women is the idea that if women dress a certain way, they are asking to be harassed or raped, or that consent is really more of a vague idea. Particularly in the last three decades, there has been an unsettling amount of rape cases in the US, like the 2012 case in Ohio, when two high school football players raped a drunken 16-year-old at a party. In the six months after the incident, next to nothing was said about the victim, and quite a large part of the internet community believed the boys should be let off with a warning, because they were talented players and the loss of them on the team would be a shame. Even though they were not the victims, the boys received sympathy for sexual conduct without consent, and the victim was told that she was overreacting.

So really, was Miley’s performance just a silly, desperate move for publicity, or a subtle lesson on objectivity and sexism in America?

under: Opinion

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