Danger: Raven by Giant Ginkgo (via Flickr)
Mommy-blogosphere is a twitter today with the release of Miley Cyrus’ new music video, “Can’t Be Tamed”.
In it, Cyrus looks like a raven who forgot to get dressed for the day. (Do ravens even wear pants?) She sings about her intentions while dancing on the poles of her birdcage.
Many parents have daughters who have grown up with Cyrus’ alter-ego, Hannah Montana. Perplexed over how to explain this change to their daughters, they are afraid they may have to tell them that they are no longer permitted to listen to their beloved singer because she is not who she used to be.
In the words of Soraya Roberts of the NYDailyNews,
“Writhing in a large nest within a giant birdcage, the 17-year-old pop star, wearing S&M-style gear, looks provocatively at the camera complaining that she feels like a specimen.
She proceeds to engage in some raunchy pole dancing, her plunging body-hugging black bodice, complete with expansive bird wings (the curator in the video says she is a member of the extinct species Avian Cyrus), leaving little to the imagination.”
The article is accompanied by this poll:
“Do you think Miley Cyrus’ new video is too saucy for a 17-year-old?
Yes, where are her parents?!
No, she’s almost an adult.
Who’s Hannah Montana?
The emphasized concern, of course, is that feathered Cyrus is not legally an adult.
As a millionaire who makes her own decisions about most of her life, however, she is essentially living as an adult, proving that Americans still hold age as a standard for maturity vs. self-reliance or life experience.
It is an especially interesting double standard, given that many Americans are at peace with sending 18 year old men off to war. Teens shooting “bad guys” in the head is okay, but it is shocking when Cyrus wears a black corset that provides more coverage than most women wear at the beach.
Frankly, Cyrus’ video portrays exactly the kind of behavior I’d expect from a woman struggling to handle the massive amount of attention from strange men in her life. She is trying express her own sexuality, but is attempting (poorly) to tell them they can’t touch her unless it is on her terms.
It’s easy to do our part by clicking on,”Where are her parents?” to vote our outrage. How often, though, with our own children do we discuss sex? This video is just one more example of why we must discuss it with our daughters, while they are still young. Should we allow just any man to touch us? How does Cyrus’ message mesh with her actions? Are her words consistent with her suggestive behavior? Why do we wear modest swimsuits, anyway?
When we think that people under 21 (yes, even Christians) do not have sexual desires, we kid ourselves. Realistically, it is parents who are embarrassed to talk to anyone younger than 21 about sex. Kids talk about sex all the time, at the level that they understand. Even young children know something’s going on between their parents, which is why they get flustered when their parents are kissing or holding hands in public. They have a feeling that it is somehow connected to things private.
The truth is, “Should a 17 year old express sexual feelings?” is the wrong question to be asking. Instead, we need to broaden our perspective and ask, “What should people, including adults and teens, do with sexual feelings?”
For starters, sex is a good thing; a gift from God.
However, it is for people who are married.
Instead of pretending sexuality and birdcages don’t exist, parents who have seen Cyrus’ new video have an opportunity to talk to their children about it in the context of thinking critically about everything they do.
From the food we eat to the entertainment we buy, we need to constantly be challenging ourselves and our children to check our hearts and actions against the true standard, God’s Holy Word.