Since the now infamous twerking incident at the VMAs earlier this year, the name Miley Cyrus has rarely been out of the papers. Several celebrities and fellow musicians have weighed in on the debate to give their opinions on how the singer’s actions are affecting fans and pop music as a whole. The most famous of these was probably the spat being that between Cyrus and Sinead O’Connor that kicked off following an open letter penned by O’Connor stating her disapproval over Miley’s actions. Here at Luxe Models, we decided it was time for us to have an opinion.
Earlier this week, former child superstar Charlotte Church spoke out against the hyper-sexualisation of female musicians in music videos and photo shoots. Referring to singers like Cyrus and Rihanna, Church said she dislikes the ways in which they allow themselves to be portrayed as “submissive sex objects”. Miley Cyrus, of course appeared naked in her Wrecking Ball video, and in Rihanna’s latest video, the singer is shown wearing nothing but a jewel encrusted bikini.
Charlotte Church then went on to say that she realises she is hardly blameless. Having worn skimpy clothing in the video for her single Call My Name, she now says she regrets submitting to the pressures of producers and managers around her when she agreed to do this. She feels like women’s sexuality has been reduced to nothing more than a prize to be won, but also says that her forays into the world of sexy music videos resulted in torrents of online abuse from people referring to her by derogatory names.
These words come following an interview given by Annie Lennox on BBC Radio 5 live in which the highly-acclaimed songstress, whose career spans four decades, shared her concerns that some of the music videos being produced by artists today are almost pornographic in nature and ought to be certified as X rated so that children aren’t being openly exposed to the content. The prevalence of YouTube and the internet now means that music videos that might once have been shown only after the water shed – we’re thinking Madonna’s Erotica video and George Michaels’ I Want Your Sex – are now readily available for anyone to watch at any time of day.
The main thread of debate here centres around the fact that some people believe what these young artists are doing is empowering for women, while others feel like it’s incredibly damaging to the progress that’s been made in terms of women’s rights.
While Miley Cyrus says she simply wants to leave behind her former image and to push the boundaries of acceptability, we have to ask, is this really what she’s doing? In the 1980s, Annie Lennox grew to international acclaim not only for her music, but for her androgynous looks. And she really played on this, to the point where she was asked to produce a birth certificate to prove she was really a woman before a performance in the USA. Similarly in the 90s, Sinead O’Connor shaved her head as an assertion against traditional views of women.
It seems what the likes of Cyrus and Rihanna are doing isn’t really pushing any boundaries. In fact it could be seen as simply perpetuating the idea of women as objects of sex. The porn industry has been instrumental in branding a highly-sexualised view of women as “empowerment”, whereas in reality, it often weakens the position of female kind, handing power back to men with little argument about whether or not it’s right.
Despite all this, we still find ourselves hooked on the headlines as we wait to hear what will happen next with these artists. If nothing else, this has definitely got people talking and it’s all proved to be an excellent marketing gimmick – this week in was announced the Miley Cyrus topped both the singles and album chart in the UK. But does twerking to Blurred Lines, a song that sparked a huge outcry from rape awareness groups, really promote a positive message of sisterhood? Probably not.