Twerk Miley, Miley Twerk

Everyone is upset about Miley Cyrus lately. She sticks her tongue out, for goodness sake! She twerks. She wears next to nothing. She's a trashy whore and a talentless slut. That's what people are saying, thinking and writing about Miley this week. 

3girlsmomma19 writes on BlogHer: "All Miley succeeded in doing [at the VMAs] was proving how totally and completely lost she is in the world, and how much a stable family that guides you, protects you, and has your best interest at heart really does have an influence on the person you become. Degrading yourself as a woman is not liberating or empowering, and it’s not how you prove you are an adult." 

One BlogHer commentor echoed her sentiments: "...[F]or me, [her performance] was skanky...For Miley, hanging out her tongue ala Mick Jager, was not flattering to her in any way."

I have a different take on Miley Cyrus and it's one no one is talking about: Miley Cyrus's display is what happens when you suppress your sexuality during your teen years. Until a few years ago, Miley wore a purity ring to show her devotion to her Christian faith and to show the world she was abstaining from sex until marriage. Suppressing your sexuality for God (or any reason) can actually stunt normal development. 

Purity, as many of you know, is the Christian version of oppression toward women. It's the Church's way of claiming hold over a woman's body and how she behaves. Don't be 'too wild', they say. Don't wear that outfit or you'll 'cause men to stumble,' Christian women have been told over and over. The purity movement teaches children and teens that sex is bad and women who are openly sexual are deviants. Many fundamentalist churches teach that women who are openly sexual are actually 'walking with Satan.' (That phrase is taken from actual sermon notes from teachings on the subject.) 

My question to Miley-critics is why aren't you talking about how damaging the purity movement is to women? 

I spent my youth with the same beliefs Miley did. I attended what I now call a fundamentalist Christian church from childhood, even though it's a mainstream organization. When we were teens, our youth pastors started teaching us about purity. They told us dating could be dangerous and dating the wrong person could ruin our life. We were taught to dress a modest way and to stay away from the opposite sex until we were ready to get married (no driving alone, even!). In fact, the term courtship was introduced to us around my late teens. Courtship in the church is where a man and woman pray about whether they should marry each other and then (this is the most important part), they consult their pastor for permission to marry. They don't go on dates alone (only chaperoned events or group dates) and they don't have sex. Many don't even kiss until their wedding day. 

These teachings tell women that they are the 'gatekeepers' to sex and if they slip up, they're responsible for a man's 'sin.' That's a lot of pressure. 

Wearing purity rings was just coming into fashion in the late '90s and with enough peer pressure, we all felt normal wearing one and talking about our devotion to emotional and physical purity. After all, we could ruin our lives at a young age if we weren't careful with dating.

It was weird, but with thousands of teens devoting themselves to purity at youth conferences, it almost felt normal. When women spoke at conferences, it was always to tell us how they'd been raped as a child, thus throwing them into sex at an early age. With sex came sin: abortion, being raped, and violence. 

At those conferences, we all started wearing purity rings. 

When I was eighteen, I was recruited into a youth discipleship program that was housed out of a mainstream Christian megachurch. During the first week we were taken through a ceremony where we married Jesus and pledged our purity to Him. My purity pledge lasted seven years in that group. I never dated, kissed a boy, or was even alone with one. Even being alone with a boy could place me in the 'Jezebel' category--a temptress of men--or so my pastors taught me. 

When I turned twenty-five, I left the discipleship program and started realizing how suppressed I was. I also started realizing I'd spent my teens and college years in a bubble and I needed to pop that bubble and enter the real world. I discovered feminist texts and started studying the history of the persecution of witches. Guess why witches were burned at the stake? You guessed it: for being outspoken, unmarried and sexual


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