She's 18 Next Month: This Mom Is Backing Away From Miley Cyrus Criticism

BlogHer Original Post

It appears some parents are upset with Miley Cyrus' new video for "Who Owns My Heart?" because it is too damn sexy.


I'm amazed to find myself on the other side of this debate.

I regularly put hand-me-downs with words across the butt straight into the Goodwill pile. I won't let my six-year-old daughter wear anything approaching a high heel, and it is only under extreme Nutcracker duress that I allow her stage make-up, which is immediately washed off. I worry her shorts are too short, her swimming suits too droopy. I won't allow Bratz or any toys of that nature in our house. She can't watch Hannah Montana or High School Musical. I want her to stay a little girl for as long as possible.

My daughter is six. She's still a child. She hasn't yet learned all the lessons I have to teach about being a female in society, womanhood, sexuality, values, decisions and consequences. I hope when she reaches 17, she'll make good choices about revealing her sexuality, but if she doesn't by the time she's 17, there's not going to be much more I can do about it. I have to teach those lessons now.

Miley Cyrus will be 18 next month, making her a woman for me to look sideways at instead of a child for me to look down to, worry over or protect. Do I think her parents did a good job teaching her about women's sexuality? Not really. But all this talk of containing the current Miley Cyrus sexy is rubbing me wrong.

I can't stand her music, and I've never been a fan of any of the Cyrus clan for myriad reasons. I was aghast at her behavior when she was 16. However, she's not 16 anymore, not a child. Now that she's a month from being old enough to vote and serve her country, any attempts to contain her sexy smacks of patronizing patriarchy to me. But this post is not a rant -- it's a question. Is it fair to judge Miley's sexy now just because she was a child star?

U.S. singer and actress Miley Cyrus performs at the 2010 MuchMusic Video Awards in Toronto June 20, 2010.  REUTERS/Fred Thornhill (CANADA - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT)

I don't like Miley's song. I don't think her video is well made. I don't think Miley is good at looking sexy -- in fact, watching her kick her legs on camera kind of make me snarkily smirk. I totally get judgy with her parents for letting her hump things in 2008. But now, in 2010 -- she's going to be 18, and her peers in the music industry are doing this sort of thing. I don't know why female singers have to hump things in their videos. I don't know why male singers grab their packages and lick their back-up dancers. I've never really understood why you have to be sexy in person to sell music that people listen to with their ears. But if Miley wants to writhe on her satin-sheeted bed in a music video, I suppose if I don't like it, I don't have to watch it. And I don't have to let my six-year-old watch it, either. Miley's adult career shouldn't and won't be dictated by other parents who think they know what is best for her.

But because I'm still not sure if my opinion is justified or a gut reaction to criticism of the girl-whore when I don't see such criticism for boys licking back-up dancers, I went and looked for a 17-year-old male singer with sexy videos. All I found was Justin Bieber, who is neither sexy nor trying to be sexy, from what I can tell. Very squeaky clean at the moment. Perhaps there is a lack of outrage over young males doing it up in their videos because there aren't as many young males who make it big while they're still in their teens? Or are young men religiously opposed to writhing in sheets on camera? Are they really, now? I seem to remember 17-year-old boys a little differently.

And -- here's the part where you really hate me -- I think once kids are 17, they may already know how to act sexy. They may, in fact, already be having sex. So it is not shocking to me that a 17-year-old is acting sexy in a video, what's shocking is that parents are letting little kids watch them. I personally take larger issue with violence than with sex when it comes to media and, if given a choice, would rather have my daughter watch the love scene from Top Gun than the violence in X-Men. I'd be more upset with her for saying something mean to another kid than for swearing. I think there's something wrong with our culture in that we castigate sexuality -- particularly female sexuality -- while tolerating pretty graphic violence on the six o'clock news.

I'm not well versed in pop music -- help me out here if I am missing something -- but there is something about the Miley/Britney/Christina business that bothers me, once the girls turn 18 and become women -- which Miley will do next month. Screaming and throwing a sheet over a grown woman seems a little hypocritical to me. Just change the channel, preferably not to a slasher film.

What do you think?

Rita Arens authors Surrender Dorothy and is the editor of Sleep is for the Weak. She is BlogHer's assignment and syndication editor.

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