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When Miley Cyrus referred to herself as “one of the biggest feminists in the world,” we knew we had to ask one of our Like a Boss girls to take on the topic for our Feminism month. This guest post from recurring contributor Salem Afangideh explores what it really means to be a feminist—and why Miley’s statement was way off the mark.
In November Miley Cyrus let on that the reason for her sudden sexual reformation was to be a role model to girls, calling herself “one of the biggest feminists in the world.” As a law student and as a young lady whose lives to encourage and empower the younger generation of girls to dream big and achieve their dreams, I do not think that I would classify her as a feminist in any way. While I do not seek to disrespect or cast any judgement on Miley Cyrus because I believe that she is still trying to find her place and her voice, I do hope to show through this article that she is not advancing feminist ideals.
A quick online search for “Miley” reveals a lot of inappropriate pictures and very unclassy behavior that is not becoming of the lady who claims to let girls know that they can be anything they want to be. The feminist movement was born out of real, hard-working women who wanted to be respected like the men in their society and who desired equal treatment. The female pioneers of this movement fought against the societal view of women only as sex objects and baby making machines; they wanted to be seen less for their bodies and for more of their brains. Ms. Cyrus’ behavior is an exact opposite of that. If anything, she is using her body as an opportunity to sell her music instead of just relying on the fact that she is a talented and creative young woman.
I think holding up Miley Cyrus to be a feminist may be because perhaps we don’t really understand fully what it means to be a feminist and what the pioneers in the fight of feminism had to plow through for us to live in the society we do today.
As a law student, I have studied the cases that pioneered the rights of women and eventually advanced equality for men and women. What I’ve learned is that the women who fought to advance equal opportunities did not devote their lives so that young girls can have the freedom to “twerk” in front of the world. These women (and men) fought hard so that young girls could become lawyers, doctors, entrepreneurs, entertainers or engineers—and still have the freedom to be homemakers if they chose to do so. The generations before us fought hard so that us girls could dream big and have the freedom to follow through with our dreams…not so that we could subject ourselves again to having to use our bodies to get what we want.
Ms. Cyrus claims to be pushing feminist ideals, but in reality, her actions over the past few months are showing young girls that to be successful your body is your main asset. She is also showing girls that you “have” to use your sexuality to have others validate you, and pointing to the fact that taking off your clothes gets you more recognition.
The girl who holds on to feminist ideals believes that women should be able to have equal opportunities to reach as high as men can, and she knows that she is equal to a man. Although she is equal, she recognizes that she is not the same as a man, and that the unique qualities that come with being female that can help her achieve high levels of success. The feminist girl dresses however she chooses, not letting society place restraints on how she looks because of how everyone else looks, but she realizes that classy dressing is not the same as trashy. The feminist girl is mega-confident (whether or not she has a guy to validate the reasons for her confidence). The feminist girl is diligent and she puts in a lot of work into achieving what she wants to achieve. The feminist girl is classy, and is a perfect blend between rebellious and sweet, hardworking and playful! The feminist girl realizes that other girls are not the competition, and guys are not the enemy, she competes against herself and empowers others on her way up the ladder.
In the last few months, Miley Cyrus has not demonstrated these qualities. Rather, she has portrayed the opposite and I do not think she should be held up as a young woman advancing feminist ideals.