Here is the problem with this situation. One thing is true about feminists..We all have the core belief that there needs to be equality for both sexes, minorities, and members of the LGBTQ community. That is one thing we can all agree on. After that, feminists hold different beliefs when it comes to sexual expression and so on. One thing I do not agree with is all the slut shaming that is occurring with Miley’s performance. Was it something I would have done?? No. But it is her body and she is free to express her sexuality and take control of her body. Slut shaming is a habit used to support the rape culture that we live in and it needs to end.
That being said, I do not condone her use of using black women as props. Though I defend a woman’s right to govern her own body, black women are still defending their right to actually be considered a body at all and not decoration. Expressing your sexuality at the expense of another person is not okay. You don’t get to claim sexual freedom while simultaneously perpetuating the oppression of another body. When you feel the need to express your sexuality by turning someone else’s body into an accessory, I can no longer support you or your performance. The feminist struggle is a struggle for autonomy. It’s a fight for recognition and full-body respect. But in Cyrus’ search for and exploration of her sexual identity, she limits the autonomy of black women. She appropriates it. She cheapens it. She effectively uses the identity and lived experiences of so many women of color as a crutch for her career.
For white women, Slut Walks are a demonstration in favor of women permitting themselves and demanding the room to be more sexual than their predecessors. It is to control their body and to let the public know that “YES! I can express myself anyway I choose and it still is not an invitation for intercourse. Meanwhile, black women have spent the past few centuries struggling to do the opposite. Historically, black women are actively being hyper-sexualized; the black feminist struggle is a fight to remove that hyper-sexual assumption from their bodies. In light of the contrast, both movements are indeed a struggle for all women to be allowed to express the full range of their sexuality.
My point is, Miley is free to express her sexuality, but not at the expense of another. Using black women or women of any ethnicity as a prop is NEVER OK, Miley.
Black women are not props!