Is it possible that Miley Cyrus is making her own decisions? I would say so.
No one wants to see a man naked. This is pretty much what I’ve been trained to believe; I don’t think I’m alone in that indoctrination. Maybe your wife/girlfriend/boyfriend/husband wants to see you naked, but no one else does. There’s also a sneaking, nagging belief that he/she only pretends to desire this to make you happy. That’s the reality of what I see in the mirror, and I think it’s pretty real for a large amount of men.
That’s where I’m coming from when I read about the Sinead O’Connor-Miley Cyrus epic. Sinead O’Connor posted an open letter to Miley Cyrus, which you can read here. Miley Cyrus responded like a child, which you can see here. Amanda Palmer weighed in with some pretty astute commentary here. (My verdict is still out on “open letters” but I think they’re getting tired.) Amanda Palmer touched on it but I want to point out what seems obvious: maybe Miley Cyrus enjoys being desired.
Miley is 20 years old. Puberty, affluence, and creative lighting techniques have done everything they can for her, and they’ve done good. The girl looks pretty good in varying states of undress and she knows it. Maybe she’s starting to understand that people will value her for her sexuality and she enjoys that. Sinead O’Connor and Amanda Palmer have been in the public spotlight for a while. They’ve been loved, desired, admired, reviled, and criticized in triplicate. Being desired is pretty new for Miley Cyrus. Maybe she’s lust-drunk.
I’m approaching this whole thing as a man. When I look in the mirror, I see a dude with a body— a body that is good for taking out the trash, killing cockroaches, reaching that thing on the top shelf, and moving couches. Mind you, these are all functions in which I take a decent amount of pride, but none of them are sexy.
How would I respond if suddenly people wanted to see me naked? How would I respond if suddenly people wanted to see me naked and I could make millions of dollars? I’d probably take my clothes off. I’d probably take my clothes off for free. Not to undermine and/or belittle any woman’s commentary on this subject, but I think that sometimes they forget what it’s like to be overlooked. A woman who spends her entire life being approached, complimented, and propositioned may feel that Miley Cyrus is exploiting herself or being exploited. Take it from a man who isn’t approached, complimented, or propositioned, she is probably pretty shocked by the positive feedback. The negative feedback (mostly from women) is to be expected; we’re very quick to attack someone. The positive feedback, though, is fairly new for a 20 year old.
I lost 90ish pounds so women would find me attractive. Do you know how many women have told me I’m attractive? One. I could be forgetting one or two but in 24 years of living, my physical appearance has been complemented by one woman. If you’re a woman and you’re reading this, how would you feel if no one ever told you that you are desirable?
You know what? I am forgetting one. (This brings the count to two. For the non-statisticians in the audience, that’s one woman every twelve years.) A girl in high school told me that I look good in neutral colors. Now, eight years later, I own about two clothing items that aren’t neutral colors.
What am I getting at? I’m trying to point out a very simple fact: maybe Miley Cyrus enjoys being ogled. Maybe this whole idea of being attractive and desired is new for her and she doesn’t know how to handle it.
If that’s the case, then I hope we can go a little easier on her in the future. If Sinead O’Connor is correct and Miley is being exploited, then I hope we can get some indication of that and do whatever we can to help her out of that situation. As it stands now, we have no reason to believe she is being exploited by anyone but herself. Also, we have no reason to believe that she’s not enjoying being exploited.