I think we are just plain schizo. Really. A few nights ago cute little Hannah Montana rocked the country, and maybe the world, with her trashy romp on stage with Robin Thicke at MTV's Video Music Awards ceremony.
No, I didn't watch the video, but I saw plenty of photos. Sure, it was inappropriate. Sure, it was sleazy. Sure, it was outside the boundaries that even the vast majority of our hypersexualized culture deems acceptable behavior. But so far, it seems to be Miley that is getting all the pushback, all the criticism, and all the shame.
Miley Cyrus is 20 years old. Not old enough to buy alcohol in her own country, not old enough to even rent a car. It could be another 5 years before her prefrontal cortex, that part of the brain that makes judgment calls and perceives possible consequences to actions, is even fully developed. In many ways, she really is still a kid, albeit a rather sophisticated one.
I am in no way saying that she should not be held accountable for her actions. Yes, she should know better. But what I am saying is that she did not act in a vacuum. The photos I saw show her on stage with a man. A man, not a boy. A man who is 36 years-old and MARRIED. Now HE should know better.
Somebody choreographed those moves. Somebody directed that show. There are likely hundreds of somebodies out there who are also partially responsible for that performance and, more than likely, all of them are older and should be wiser and more mature than Miley herself.
What do we expect in a world where sex rules and sex sells? Where little girls' bathing suits can come with push-up bras and young women can expect a boob job to be the ultimate present for high school graduation? Where the majority of songs and television shows and movies paint a hook-up culture as the norm? Where I cannot even find a dress at Target for my teenage daughter that will cover more than half her thigh (another blog post altogether)?
I couldn't help but notice how Miley actually, in her teeny, weeny nude colored bikini or bra-and-panties get-up (same difference) strangely resembled a naked, plastic baby doll, an object that is often cast off and thrown away, and wondered if that was by accident at all.
Why are we so shocked when a girl who has grown up as the center of attention, who never had anything resembling a normal childhood, who will never be able to handle the pressure and expectations our culture puts on her . . . why are we so shocked when she crosses the line of human decency? And why do we lay the blame so heavily on her narrow shoulders?
A few years ago my daughter suffered from abdominal pain and nausea. She had a low grade fever. She was definitely not herself. Sure, she complained of the symptoms, but they were not her problem. Her appendix was. No masking the pain would have remedied the situation. In fact, doing so would have eventually killed her. The symptoms were a sign that something deeper and more serious was at hand.
My heart breaks for Miley and it breaks for all the young women who have believed all the sick, sick lies that our culture throws at them. Miley isn't the problem. Miley is the symptom of a much deeper, more pervasive problem. A problem that treats sex as king and young women as objects.
I think it is time to fight back. And maybe, if we reach out to her with compassion and concern instead of disgust and horror . . . maybe one day Miley will join us.