In the past I’ve made the cowardly admission that I’m relieved not to be the Mother of girls. Why? Because it is so much easier to raise men that respect women than it is to raise women who respect themselves. Not to say it is easy to raise men to respect women, not by a long shot.
I wasn’t interested in writing about the Miley Cyrus VMA performance. I had my opinions-about a wealthy white young woman appropriating the physical representations of “ratchet culture”, about the painfulness of a young woman trying desperately to break away from the perception of who she was as an adolescent, about living in the public eye, about assuming that her endgame was to be seen as sexual and yet personally finding nothing sexy about her performance, about the body shaming surrounding the unflattering still photographs of Cyrus’s ass mid dance, about the Blurred Lines song and video being breathtakingly misogynistic. All that stuff has been thoroughly covered in online media and I didn’t feel like I had much to add.
This morning as I partook of my ritual of scrolling through Dirtbag on Jezebel while drinking my coffee (I’m not even going to get all defensive–yes, I read shitty gossip and yes, I read Jezebel.) I came across a link to video of Robin Thicke’s Mom reacting to the VMA performance.
“Him? Loved it. I loved that suit.”
“I don’t understand what Miley Cyrus is trying to do.”
Suddenly I was furious. Listen, I try really hard not to be unkind or judgmental of other’s parenting. Parenting is so hard, we never know the whole story, we should try to be supportive of one another. I am sure that Gloria Loring is a decent human being and obviously she loves her son very much. But love isn’t enough-she failed her son as a Mother in this video. She failed her son, and she failed all women.
One of my biggest fears as a Mother is that my overwhelming love for my boys will cloud any ability to see them clearly and hold them responsible for their actions. The love I have for my boys, it chokes me sometimes. I can barely breath I am so full of the desire to protect and care for them. Loving a child is frightening and exhilarating and personally it has been one of the best parts of my entire life. But it is blinding.
Gloria Loring is blind to the role her son had in his performance. He’s 36 years old with a wife and a son. He is my age. Miley Cyrus isn’t old enough to buy a beer. He is a grown man who had a much clearer sense of what he was getting himself into with the performance that Cyrus probably did. Her costume was reminiscent of what the women wore in his unrated video for the same song-nude underwear and sneakers, surely that detail was decided upon by both camps.He did not flinch when she ground her ass into him or touched his dick. He was an equal participant in the performance.
He must be included in any critique of her performance. To absolve him of responsibility perpetuates the lack of equality women experience in this country. It sets up the Madonna/whore dichotomy-that is all Cyrus has the chance to be. Sadly, it would appear that she believes those are her only options. But the idea that Cyrus’ performance happened in a bubble and isn’t a reflection on him is ludicrous and lazy.
Robin Thicke has been let off the hook by the media and by his own Mother. The same media and woman who have no problem raking Cyrus over the coals for her actions. I call bullshit. For the sake of my nieces and the girls that my friends are raising. For the sake of my sons and nephews and all children being raised right now.
When men participate in sexualized behavior they are just being guys. When women do it they are behaving shamefully. In 2013. In America. What the fuck? We need to expect more from our sons. We need to have one set of values for men and women. We need to not let our love for our kids get in the way of holding them responsible for their actions.
And those of you doing the imperative work of raising the next generation of women? I admire the hell out of you. I want the very best for those girls. I want them to own their sexuality. I want them to understand with every fiber of their being that they are equal to men. I want them to love themselves. And you guys are making that happen. You are the fucking rockstars.
Photos by Ellie Leonardsmith, photographer and kick ass Mom.
And these boys? They will respect women, or help me god, I will die trying.