September 30, 2013
Can Miley Cyrus’ pseudo lesbian antics help young lesbians?
It seems that the web-wide buzz about Miley Cyrus has finally started to die down. As such, it feels like the perfect time to discuss a potentially unpopular opinion. So here goes: maybe Miley is helping some would-be lesbians.
In a perfect world, there would be role models of all sorts for young lesbians—butch girls wearing cut-off tanks and cropped hair, femme girls in dresses and killer heels, and every type in between. The unfortunate reality is that such a place does not (yet) exist.
While we work towards a world in which minority groups of all kinds are represented in main stream society, it seems important to acknowledge that even though our current selection is rather crap, there are occasionally some unintended side effects that are aren’t—side effects that I myself benefited from.
The backlash against Miley
After releasing her first music video in three years, ‘We Can’t Stop’, Miley has been a whirlwind of a new “bad girl” image, dancing bears, and tongue. Shortly after the release, Miley performed her little heart out at MTV’s Video Music Awards. The backlash started almost immediately and has yet to fully stop.
While there have been some very valid critiques of Miley’s new image— such as the racist elements of her VMA performance – there have also been some valid defenses: she shouldn’t be shamed for exploration of her sexuality.
But what about the pseudo lesbian elements of her new “edgy” image? Where’s the discussion about that?
Why is no one talking about the lesbionic elements of Miley’s new image?
In Miley’s music video for ‘We Can’t Stop’ she does all sort of bizarre things — eats Twerk soup, cuts a fake hand that oozes pink stuff, and trots around with her taxidermy friend, to name a few.
She also engages is some lesbian-esque behavior. Lesbo LiteTM, if you will.
There’s a moment when Miley does the universal symbol of cunninglingus, straddles another girl, and makes out with a female doll. In fact, the video ends with a shot of Miley grinding against a vaguely butch looking girl and then grabbing her boob.
Yes, it’s all totally strange, and it’s rather obvious that the lesbian elements exist solely as a marketing tactic and/or to add even more “edge” to Miley’s image.
What’s hotter than a straight, femme girl pretending to be gay? According to the media, not a whole lot.
To my knowledge, Miley identifies as straight and was even engaged to this man. She has never alluded to bisexuality or even hinted at engaging in lesbian activities. Nevertheless, her music video has a definitively sapphic slant. So what gives?
Straight girls pretending to be gay is lucrative
Using the image of “sexy lesbians” as a marketing tactic is nothing new. In fact, there is an entire multimillion-dollar category of porn dedicated to exploiting that very concept.
Magazines, movies, and websites constantly promote the supposedly tantalizing image of (straight) girls acting sexy with other (straight) girls. The sexualization of lesbians for consumption is wrong, degrading, sexist, annoying, etc.
However, the unfortunate truth is that this is the society we live in and the pop culture we’re subjected to. As such, it seems best to try and find the positive (while attempting to make change) and from an extremely personal view, I would argue that there is a potentially positive side effect: it can make lesbianism less scary for new lesbians.
Pseudo Lesbianism Helped Me
By the age of fourteen, I had already experienced (and immediately suppressed) my first stirrings of attraction for the same gender. Even though, I had attempted to shove my moments of lesbian attraction deep down in my subconscious, it was something I never entirely forget.
Which is why when I was sixteen I thoroughly enjoyed Katy Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl.” Katy proudly proclaimed that she had done what I had only dreamed of: kissing a girl.
It was the first moment I realized that maybe lesbianism wasn’t all about untouchable (and very intimidating) butches wearing oversized plaid and rocking shaved heads. But even beyond that, maybe it wasn’t so weird that I wanted to kiss girls and like it.
During the peak of I Kissed A Girl, I found myself on a bus full of girls after a high school cross-country race. It was the first race I had ever run and I remember feeling happy. One of my teammates brought out her IPod and began blaring Katy Perry’s song. Everyone immediately started singing along and belting out the words, “I kissed a girl and I liked it!” I looked around at my teammates smiling and doing outrageous moves as they sang and for the first time, saw my own desires reflected back to me.
None of the girls were gay (and to my knowledge none are gay now) but I was able to glimpse a world in which lesbianism wasn’t a disease that would separate me from my peers, but merely a preference, like Coke instead of Pepsi.
Maybe there’s another young lesbian who is also being helped…
Watching Miley Cyrus’s video reminded me of that long ago moment and of how being different was, and sometimes still is, scary.
I want to live in a world in which young lesbians don’t have to look to straight girls pretending to be gay in order to have role models that are a reflection of themselves, and I don’t think Miley Cyrus or Katy Perry are gay role models. In fact, I would love nothing more than to give them both the boot and make room for some real lesbians in the spotlight.
However, we might be able to find something positive in their commodification of lesbianism.
I’m not making excuses for celebrities who cash in on gay culture and preferences while opting out of the discrimination, fear, and isolation that often accompany being part of a minority group.
I also make no excuses for the fact that lesbianism has been made into a spectator sport as a result of pseudo lesbianism. I’m merely pointing out that while we work to change society, we can also acknowledge that unintended positive outcomes might in fact exist.
Just maybe, there’s a girl out there who’s sixteen and saw Miley stick her tongue out in between her fingers and thought to herself, “Maybe I’m not that weird after all…”
Watch ‘We Can’t Stop’ and decide for yourself: is Miley good news or bad news for lesbians?
Mike Freer HoC speech on gay marriage
Mike Freer, Conservative MP for Finchley and Golders Green, gives a speech in the House of Commons in favour of same sex marriage proposals.
February 5, 2013