Miley Cyrus Slut Shamed by Sinead O’Connor

Miley Cyrus Slut Shamed by Sinead O'Connor

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Miley Cyrus mentioned that she was influenced by Sinead O’Connor in her music, specifically that O’Connor’s video Nothing Compares 2 U artistically inspired Cyrus’ video for Wrecking Ball, her current killing-it hit.  To respond to this tip of the hat, Sinead O’Connor released publicly an open letter that slut shamed Miley Cyrus under the guise of motherly affection.

In the letter O’Connor repeatedly stressed that Cyrus is allowing herself to be prostituted for the financial gain of men, thereby setting a terrible example for the people who can see her, especially other girls.  She calls Cyrus a prostitute, indirectly, several times.

She delivers these punches after an opening statement that rationalizes her shaming message as one that is, “said in the spirit of motherliness and with love.”  Apparently, once a person is complimented, it becomes perfectly acceptable for them to passive aggressively insinuate someone else is a whore because compliments generate the kind of intimate love that justify returning kindness with sugar coated insults.

There are parts of the letter where O’Connor exhibits genuine respect for Cyrus’ talent as a musician and pleads with her to care about herself more.  These caring gestures are undermined by her insistence that caring for herself means Cyrus should wear clothes and not exploit — or express — herself sexually.  O’Conner calls on her to rely on others to protect herself from the predators of the world, much like a woman should protect themselves from assault by hiding in doors when the sun is down or finding a nice young man to take care of them.

In this way, Sinead O’Connor provides a textbook example of how eagerly sexually expressive people, like Miley Cyrus, are slut shamed.  Miley Cyrus is being told to cover up and have a little respect for herself, putting the onus objectification on her shoulders while still telling her what to with her own body.  O’Connor’s message is for Miley Cyrus not to let men take advantage of her body and to achieve this by giving up her autonomy to O’Connor instead, by heeding the advice of this new-found mother figure.

O’Conner kept repeating what a talented woman Cyrus was and that she was better than prostitution.  Not only does this relegate Cyrus to the role of prostitute for expressing sexuality, but it informs her that prostitution reduces her self worth and that she alone is to blame for this perception.  These assertions take the responsibility away from the person victimizing and places it on the victim.  O’Connor embodies this societal tendency with the most commonly cited example of how slut shaming is expressed, “We don’t encourage our daughters to walk around naked in it because it makes them prey for animals…”

Telling Miley Cyrus to cover up and protect herself from predators negates her right to take up space any way she pleases and the justification of this attack on her right to be, is that it is meant to help her avoid being blamed for the actions of other.  Never mind that attacking a person’s worth, so that they will do what you say, is just as misleading and controlling as the predatory behavior O’Connor warns about.  She tells Miley Cyrus not to allow others to talk her into getting naked for money, while emphasising that she should cover up.  That is still telling someone what to do with their body.  It is just cloaked beneath a thin layer of “it’s for your own good.”  A smoke and mirrors approach to body policing and slut shaming does not change the part where body policing and slut shaming are occurring.

In the same letter, O’Connor points out that Miley Cyrus is obviously talented and that she has shed her Hannah Montana image by virtue of that talent alone.  It is delivered as a sort of compliment sandwich with insult bread because surrounding this endorsement are messages that focus entirely on her body representing the loss of her worth.  She tells Cyrus not to build a career on sex appeal, because that fades, by which she diminishes the major talent that she just admitted played an integral role in furthering Cyrus’ career past her Disney days.

Sinead O’Connor puts the finishing touch on the letter, that thoroughly slut shamed Miley Cyrus, by reminding her that she is a role model for young girls.  She insists that Miley Cyrus is setting a bad example by being part of a system that objectifies women.  However, Cyrus herself has been very clear that her nudity is her choice and that her definition of a role model does not revolve around a person’s body.  Since it is her body, her career, and she who will deal with any consequences, those remain her distinctions to make.

Perhaps a “thank you” would have been more appropriate of a response.

(Op-ed)

Written by: Vanessa Blanchard

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5 Responses to "Miley Cyrus Slut Shamed by Sinead O’Connor"

  1. Silvio   March 20, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    Vanessa Blanchard, shut that slipper. I wonder why Miley’s parents don’t keep their daughter from making a fool of herself.That is so sad.

    Reply
  2. Tara Miller   October 4, 2013 at 9:41 am

    definitely an “op-ed” here. self care and objectification are generally mutually exclusive. I think what Sinead is saying is … that given the pressures of the industry to hypersexualize women primarily, that she shouldn’t feel like she has to cave to those pressures. She is talented enough to sell music with her clothes on as well. The buzz around Cyrus right now isn’t about her talent…it’s about her image and behaviour and only because it’s sexual and naked. I believe true equality will be reached when our voice, intellect and talents stand on their own independent of sexual expression or nudity to ‘amp’ it up or draw attention to it. When will our boobs not make news?Likely not in this culture with continued exposure of the extent that we and Hollywood promote them as sexual objects for viewing pleasure and in contexts that purposefully distract from everything else that makes us women.

    Reply
  3. Gangle   October 4, 2013 at 3:42 am

    Thank goodness someone hasn’t taken the Sinead Kool Aid! Miley Cyrus’s retaliating tweets are reprehensible, and I defend them not one bit. But Sinead O’connor also needs to dish out an apology for the publicly humiliating, condescending and insulting post directed towards Miley.. what the hell did she think she was going to achieve?

    Reply
  4. Disappointment   October 3, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    You’ve picked the wrong side here. Just see Miley’s bullying and mocking of mental illness to see what real ‘shaming’ is.

    Reply
  5. James   October 3, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    Vanessa Blanchard, you are a fool, and so is Miley Cyrus.

    Reply

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