Someone needs to find me the actors/musicians of the string quartet who played the calm, soothing music as the Titanic was sinking in the movie. I could really use that soothing music and aplomb now as I watch the last vestiges of decency left in America sink into the freezing ocean.
Much ado has been made regarding Miley Cyrus’ appalling performance at the VMAs, with criticism and strong condemnation coming from every angle, and rightly so. The performance was raunchy and elicited the strong desire to vomit from most viewers, disgusted as they watched the former Disney starlet definitively and disturbingly eviscerate any last shred of innocence or decency (never mind credibility) she retained to that point. Of course, the fact that this performance happened and millions of viewers at home were subjected to it is a problem. The fact that the performer moved on from the controversial performance by doubling down on sleaze is a bigger problem. And while these are two concerning issues, they are really secondary symptoms of a greater systemic problem.
That greater problem was partially illustrated in the form of the Parents Television Council’s response to the incident. The group’s public policy director Dan Isett nailed it (courtesy of CBS):
MTV has once again succeeded in marketing sexually charged messages to young children using former child stars and condom commercials — while falsely rating this program as appropriate for kids as young as 14. This is unacceptable…This much is absolutely clear: MTV marketed adults-only material to children while falsely manipulating the content rating to make parents think the content was safe for their children…MTV continues to sexually exploit young women by promoting acts that incorporate ‘twerking’ in a nude-colored bikini. How is this image of former child star Miley Cyrus appropriate for 14-year-olds? How is it appropriate for children to watch Lady Gaga strip down to a bikini in the opening act?
The last two rhetorical questions of his statement represent exactly the problem at hand. The fact that they needed to be posed is a very disheartening indicator of the downward-trending direction of social morality.
This brings us to a gem the Huffington Post saw fit to print recently. Granted, it’s the Huffington Post and we should expect no less from such a train wreck of a publication, but it nevertheless is considered a somewhat legitimate “news” source (don’t ask me how or why).
In case you haven’t read “The Truth About Being A Slutty Slut,” or what I would more accurately title “Apology of A Slut,” writer Stefanie Williams lays out a carefully-considered – if inarticulate and informal – defense of an overtly hyperactive sex life. In doing so, she also contributes to the great moral deterioration of society.
Williams starts strong by opening the piece advertising boldly that she is “a slutty slut slut” (read: she has sex, likely with many different partners, very frequently). Clearly, she is not afraid of the label and is on a mission to own it/take it back. After all, she has been on the receiving end of the term “like, nine billion times” (which is, coincidentally, what she believes the population of the earth to be, but we’ll let that slide). Williams’ argument defending sluttiness bounces around sporadically from “So what? We all have boobs” to “thank goodness it doesn’t always end badly for sluts.” She concludes the last paragraph with what is ultimately the crux of her argument: sluts are people too.
There are a couple important points which should be taken away from this article. The first, which Williams herself raises and then seems to completely miss how it undermines her entire argument, is that sex is an entirely private act. Williams says so herself, noting that the activities to which the label “slut” pertain take place “in the privacy of our bedrooms.” It is only when they are brought out of that private atmosphere, especially when done so intentionally by Williams and other people like her, that the label “slut” is given any real meaning.
The privacy inherent in intimacy is the genesis of the general societal aversion to sexual explicitness. “Slut” is rightly considered a derogatory term and carries with it negative connotations because it refers to the removal of privacy from what should be the epitome of private interaction. Williams is openly contributing to the debasement of sex by not only openly discussing her participation in the act but also by seeking to defeat the mechanism which is a natural defense of the act’s intimacy (i.e. labeling those who disrespect its inherent privacy “sluts” and looking down on that behavior). Ultimately, it is a young woman’s prerogative to conduct her bedroom activities in whichever manner she chooses. Most people care not whether the bedroom is installed with a drawbridge or a revolving door, so long as the activities remain inside of it. Williams would do well to understand that.
The other important takeaway of the article is the whiny tone, which is hard to miss. Over the course of the article, Williams has gone from being a slut and proud of it, to desperately wanting to convince readers that she’s still a good person. A sort of nouveau female empowerment of the worst kind dissolves into a desperately insecure plea which leaves the entire piece tasting more sour than initially imagined. It is the perfect example for mothers and fathers everywhere to point out to their daughters as exactly what they pray their daughters never become: an insecure young woman unsure how to best cope with her intimacy issues. In a society where performances like Cyrus’ are becoming more and more common, those parents will have their work cut out for them.
Kevin Reagan | @O_JoseCanYouSee