Miley Cyrus: Have A Seat
I’m ‘bout done with Miley Cyrus. No this is not about slut-shaming, no this is not about the troubles of a child star reclaiming her life. This is about cultural appropriation. Miley Cyrus spoke to Rolling Stone and told them she doesn’t feel that she is appropriating black culture.
“I don’t keep my producers or dancers around ‘cause it makes me look cool. Those aren’t my ‘accessories.’ They’re my homies,” Cyrus told the magazine. Meanwhile, on the cover of the magazine she is appropriating Native American culture with a tattooed dream catcher on her right side ribcage.
Okay, no. Cyrus clearly does not know what cultural appropriation means if she does not think sticking her face in the posterior region of a black woman on stage wasn’t offensive. She thought! (in my Tamar Braxton voice). Twerking is not a “right” to being sexual.
It is not “slut-shaming”, especially when black women (myself included) were offended and upset over Cyrus’ awful performance. If you have black women on stage with a giant teddy bear strapped to their back so you can dance (and I use that term loosely) around them then they are props.
In an interview with VICE about Cyrus’s “We Can’t Stop” video, Professor Akil Houston of Ohio University stated, “It continues a long tradition of what Bell Hooks might refer to as ‘eating the other.’ Hooks noted that within commodity culture, ethnicity becomes like spice seasoning. It is used to liven up the dull dish that is mainstream/white culture. The distinction is important, as I think authentic images and references affirm, acknowledge, and embrace a particular culture. For example, consider the Beastie Boys and hip-hop. They were a lot more authentic and representative of true hip-hop culture than what passes for it these days.”
Pointed out in this article, as well is the argument that I have heard countless times when discussing this issue (particularly with privileged white people or non-intersectional white feminists): people don’t think that it’s an issue because “black people helped to make the song” or that the black women “chose to be on stage”. These ambiguous statements are invalid. Yes, it does add some sort of “credibility” to the action but those who participated will and are critiqued for their actions as well.
As pointed out by Trudy of Gradient Lair, Jacqui Germain of Racialicious wrote an essay entitled “Miley Cyrus, Feminism and The Struggle for Black Recognition.” The quote that Trudy pulled from Germain’s piece summarizes the whole essay and all of my feelings towards this issue.
“Here’s where the racial fissures in feminism come out: by all means, defend a woman’s right to govern her own body; it’s great that white feminists have that goal at the top of their lists. But meanwhile, as a woman of color, I’m still defending my right to actually be considered a body at all and not decoration. Expressing your sexuality at my expense isn’t okay. You don’t get to claim sexual freedom while simultaneously perpetuating the oppression of another body. When you feel the need to express your sexuality by turning my body into an accessory, the black feminist in me—two identities which I refuse to separate—can’t have your back anymore. It’s a fight for recognition and full-body respect. But in Cyrus’ search for and exploration of her sexual identity, she limits my autonomy as a woman of color. She appropriates it. She cheapens it. She effectively uses the identity and lived experiences of so many women of color as a crutch for her career.”
This quote is everything. Need I say more? And for the people who still think twerking is a pop dance. No. Twerking has been around longer than the 1993 “Do the Jubilee All” by DJ Jubilee. It originates from African dances and moves. So to Miley Cyrus, all the “twerking” white girls/guys on Vine and every feminist who automatically makes this situation about slut shaming, please do thorough research as to why this is offensive. The worst part about her twerking is not even the fact that certain people seem to think that Miley “made it popular” or “invented it”, it’s the fact that while Miley Cyrus is getting millions off of it a black woman doing it is hyper-sexualized or she is seen as a “whore” or “slut”.
The following story was published in our 2013 issue of G Magazine – GayRVA’s print publication. Check out the entire magazine here. You walk into the club and there are butts shaking everywhere. The only things higher than the temperature are the sweat lines on everyone’s necks. Big Freedia, AKA Freddie Ross, is dancing or running [...]December 23, 2013
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