The morning after the Video Music Awards (VMA) 2013, my Facebook news feed blew up with statuses about Miley Cyrus and how all of us can feel like better parents now after seeing “that performance.” I read simple sentences referring to vomit, saw photos of the shocked faces of other patrons who attended the VMA and heard references to Miley and strip poles. Not to mention the photos comparing Miley’s rear end that was hanging out of way too short lingerie type shorts to that of a naked, uncooked chicken bottom and legs (makes me want to run right out and buy a chicken for dinner!).
I didn’t watch the Awards. In fact, I was too busy living life to even know it was happening. But eventually (after the chicken photo), I looked up YouTube to see what this controversy was all about. What I saw was a bunch of weird, dancing teddy bears, with people doing very electronic, weird dancing, and then a display that involved dry humping and clearly sexual maneuvers involving a man and a woman (girl?) (honestly, pretty gross). I have no idea what the words to the song were, and the video wasn’t even a very clear picture. What was clear, is that I had just wasted six minutes of my life watching this.
Here’s the part that might shock you: I wasn’t shocked. I saw a very shocked reaction by both people I know and supposedly also the media. I’ve seen a lot of hate messages. I’ve also seen a bunch of “poor Miley” messages. My thought, is that we shouldn’t be shocked or have pity for Miley, we should be shocked and have pity for ourselves.
Has no one been listening to music or paying attention to anything for the last ten years? Why is everyone outraged at Miley’s “performance” when you didn’t notice everything else going on? Poor us, for not calling radio stations when Pumped Up Kicks started playing, singing about kids murdering kids in schools. Is it only the First Responders who have been to school shootings who should think that a song which normalizes such behavior is not ok? Poor us, for not turning off the television when Eminem and Rihanna’s “I Love The Way You Lie” song came on, displaying a perfect cycle of domestic violence. Did you not know that your teenager knows all of the words to that song? Is it only those who have witnessed or lived through, or had a family member killed by domestic violence, who should think that a song which romanticizes a relationship like that is NOT something that should be allowed anywhere?
Why NOW, are we saying that this is a problem? Why now, when this garbage has been going on for a long time? And why are we calling Miley a slut but nothing is mentioned about the man who was dancing with her? Does it not go both ways? Has this not been coming, and already been around, for a long time now?
Here’s what I think: both my daughter and my son are important enough for me to turn off the radio, turn off the TV, and give explanation of why we act and don’t act in certain ways. They’re important enough that they know that respect goes both ways in friendships, relationships, and in demanding respect for themselves. It’s not about “not” grinding on someone or “not” wearing short skirts. It’s about knowing that we brush our hair and we don’t wear pajamas all day long because we want to show respect for ourselves. It’s about NOT allowing violent, inappropriately sexualized, or unhealthy behaviors or relationships to become “normal” in the eyes of myself or my children. It’s about not waiting until the frog dies on the stove to get it out of the pot that is slowly heating up.
It’s not “poor Miley”. It’s poor us. It’s time to take a stand on the not-so-little things that are easy to ignore. Not supporting the television, radio, or other media statistics for viewing these things (remember, statistics drives the media). Calling radio stations out for playing songs with messages that normalize dangerous things. Paying attention to what our kids, and ourselves, are absorbing. Not being afraid to be “that mom” who says no to watching certain movies or who doesn’t let your 10-year-old wear makeup. Not being afraid to be “that wife” (or “that husband”) who says no to having any sort of pornography in the house.
I’ve seen the other side of this sexual disrespecting-ourselves mess that starts because a behavior somehow, somewhere, became “normal”. The other side looks like me getting up during the middle of the night to pick up a homeless woman who begins crying in my ambulance because she had sex with two different men in one night in order to get alcohol, or because she didn’t know how to say no. Or maybe, she didn’t know that she could say no. And as I tried to clean her with cold water and towels, scrubbing off the layers of dirt, drugs, and alcohol vomit, she cried. You know what? Somehow, somewhere, she was once someone’s baby girl, too. And you know what else? After she gets warm and fed and sleeps, it’ll only be a matter of time before I wake up in the middle of the night to do this again.
Wake up, people. It’s time to take a stand instead of wait to be shocked.