In 2013, Miley Cyrus helped introduce the word “twerking” into the worldwide lexicon when she danced provocatively with Robin Thicke during the MTV Video Music Awards. Stripping off her teddy bear costume and revealing a skin colored bikini, she proceeded to grind her buttocks against Thicke’s groin as he sang “Blurred Lines” and thus proclaimed to the world that the Disney protégé was not the innocent girl known to millions of tween fans as Hanna Montana any longer but a highly sexualized female popstar. The eroticism of very young female celebrities is nothing new to the industry as child stars often use their emerging sexuality to stay relevant in a culture which prizes these young women based on their physical assets and desirability. While the raunchy dance routine did cause some controversy, it not harm her career and her activities continued the evocative theme with near nude music videos and photo shoots as well as evidence of drug use and excessive partying. Cyrus, like many young female stars of her age, has passed through the doorway of the ingénue prized for her wide eyed appeal and innocence into the realms of the femme fatal.
The doorway from innocent to sexpot is well-trod; before Brittney Spears had public meltdown, she was America’s sweetheart and worked hard to exchange her innocent image for that of a provocative leather clad temptress. Now in her thirties, Spears still retains her sexual persona but has given up control of her empire to her father and management team. The recent trend of veneration of women for having voluptuous buttocks, such as celebrities Kim Kardashian and singer Niki Minaj is confirmation that women are not respected for their contributions to society but as caricatures of womanhood. In previous years it was the “grapefruit” shaped breast implants that women used to cartoonish proportions, women have been encouraged to hate their bodies and to reflect hyper-sexual femininity. It would be easy to condemn these women and their handlers for acerbating a harmful stereotype however if you look deeper you will see that it is a collective malady that society is programmed with by the media, which is run by men, of course.
The Hollywood industry has a long history of ignoring the sexual predatory behaviour of famous and powerful men. In 1977, director Roman Polanski was arrested for the rape and sodomy of a thirteen year old girl; he fled the country to avoid prosecution and continues to make films and has won awards and adulation despite the widely held belief that he is guilty of pedophilia and sexual assault on numerous minors. Woody Allan is another revered director who is accused by his young adopted daughter of abuse, yet he has not been prosecuted by the public or court of law despite the fact he married his own stepdaughter after engaging in an illicit affair when she was in her teens, which demonstrates his proclivity towards young family members. And recently another powerful man, Bill Cosby, has been accused by over thirty women of systemic drugging and rape which goes back over decades. He has been rewarded with a television show by a major network and continues his public appearances and will not face prosecution because the cases have passed the statute of limitations and a civil claim was settled out of court on promise of discretion. These cases show a pattern of abuse of women by powerful men which is not only accepted but encouraged and sponsored by the media and film industry. Is it any wonder that young women like Miley Cyrus and Britney Spears are trained to become caricaturized fem-bots when it is the same men making their decisions as the ones who support the abusive male hierarchy in Hollywood?
The executives and agents who encourage the objectification and abuse of women, the powerful makers and shakers who decide what we see and hear in music, film and television; these decision makers are responsible for how women are viewed in media and which trickles into the brains of people who eventually come to believe these illusions of sexuality as real expressions of womanhood. There is something we can all do to prevent the dysmorphic view of females, and that is to turn away from false representations. Do not encourage the creation of inequality by buying their movie tickets or albums. The one thing that hurts the media misogynistic machine the most, is to take away their profit. Hit them where it hurts, below the belt, in their wallet. If we collectively flex our financial muscles and remove their cash flow by refusing to pay for substandard media, we encourage equality. Choosing to support an abuser by buying a ticket is telling the industry that women don’t matter and it further justifies the gross inequalities that women experience in media and as a trickle-down effect. Sexual stereotypes of women are harmful in the long term to both sexes as it prevents an accepting and loving relationship which is necessary to a happy life. It also encourages misogyny and if we do not address this together collectively, our society will continue to fail to live up to its fullest potential with half of the population degraded to “less than” status.
This isn't my usual fare here, but I thought it important to think about... female representations are awful these days in popular media.
Oh you are totally spot on, Mikeil. Western women think they are "free" but they are just as controlled as females in any part of the world, the shackles are just more subtle. And we are all slaves to money, hopefully this will change soon, the seeds are planted but who knows how long it will take to sprout.
I think on a deep level, the inequality springs from "fear"...if we were a telepathic nation, imagine the empathy that would be forced upon some people and the fear that would be addressed. One can hope :-) A large enough solar flare can cause spontaneous kundalini awakenings, now that would be a sight, lol.