Lady Gaga, The X Factor And THE CHILDREN

I talked about this kind of things the other week when I addressed the topic of Miley Cyrus and her controversial change in image. My verdict was fairly simple: we shouldn’t tell her how she should dress, as it’s her choice, and since it’s the responsibility of parents to stop their kids from watching it if they don’t want them to what Cyrus did was harmless. It was also cynical, and the whole thing played out in Cyrus’ favor anyway. This, however, is slightly different, a performance by Lady Gaga on The X Factor. This is an image from the performance:

Lady Gaga

Apparently 200 people thought that this was bad enough, before the watershed, that it needed reporting to Ofcom. First, I just want to express my surprise that people who watch The X Factor have thoughts at all. Second, I want to ask a question: is there any point in protecting children from this level of sexuality any more? The music industry is just one of many that is now following the mantra ‘sex sells’ religiously, and as a result we are surrounded by imagery not much less extreme than this. As far as I can see, the only way you are going to protect the innocence of children is to shut them off from the outside world completely, which is damaging in itself. We live in a more liberal society where standards are much more relaxed than they used to be, and the transition to it would be a lot easier if people didn’t make it while kicking and screaming. It’s something we have to adapt to.

The point I’m trying to make here is, basically, that screaming ‘THINK of  the CHILDREN’ at every little thing will get tiring and ineffective and will take up all of your time. If you didn’t want your kids to watch it, you should have sent your kids out of the room, but that isn’t the solution. Your kids are going to see more and more of this in the future, age regardless, and the best approach would be to get a healthy attitude to it. Then your children might also get a healthy attitude to it, which is really the best that you can hope for.

This doesn’t change the fact that the use of women (and men, to only a slightly lesser degree) as sex objects to promote products in industry is wrong, but it’s not wrong because it’s taking away the innocence of children. I think it’s wrong because it patronizes the audience (particularly the men who are treated by the media as apes who need to be kept slightly horny all the time in order to enjoy stuff) and only seeks to reinforce gender stereotypes. But that’s an issue that I will address some other time. For now, I advise that you take a more liberal approach to this stuff with regards to your children, making sure to let them know that these images and stereotypes are not true in the real world, and don’t watch The X Factor.

Yes, Rape Culture is a Thing

When I say that I’m a feminist, I mean it in a fairly simple way: I believe that women should have the same rights as men, and should be treated as such. That’s it. And personally I don’t see how anybody can see a problem with that statement, except somehow a lot of people do. They rubbish the claims that there is a ‘rape culture’. They deny that there is a glass ceiling. In other words, these ‘men’s rights activists’ ignore reality. This makes me angry at the best of times.

The claim that there is no rape culture problem really gets me, though, because it’s so freaking obvious and so bloody dangerous to deny that I don’t understand how anyone can possibly miss it. Here is, for example, a man called Paul Elam on the topic of rape.

I have ideas about women who spend evenings in bars hustling men for drinks, playing on their sexual desires … And the women who drink and make out, doing everything short of sex with men all evening, and then go to his apartment at 2:00 a.m.. Sometimes both of these women end up being the “victims” of rape.

But are these women asking to get raped?

In the most severe and emphatic terms possible the answer is NO, THEY ARE NOT ASKING TO GET RAPED.

They are freaking begging for it.

If Paul Elam was  just some raving lunatic on the fringes then I would let it go, but he is in fact possibly the most influential member of the Men’s Rights Movement. He speaks for a surprisingly large number of people, and in my experience he is not that extreme among his peers.

But wait, as much as Paul Elam is a nutjob who blames rape victims, this doesn’t mean that we have a rape culture, right? Well, no, but there are much bigger examples. Take Tequila UK. This is an extract from an advert for it:

Presenter: “How are you going to violate a fresher tonight?”

Student: “I’ve got one here with me who’s just disappeared.. There she is.”

Presenter: “And what are you going to do to her tonight?”

Student: “Well she’s paying for the cab, she’s paying for the drinks.”

Presenter: “Strong.”

Student: “She’s going to get raped.”

As you might expect, a public outcry followed (a rape culture problem doesn’t mean that everyone just accepts this stuff), and the manager of the club hosting the effect had to respond.

Tequila UK’s club night, “Freshers Violation”, is currently held at Mezz Club, and the venue has come under extreme pressure to stop hosting the event.

The manager of Mezz club told HuffPost UK: “We do not deal with promotions. The video was made by an external promotion company.”

When asked if they would be continuing to host Tequila UK’s nights he replied: “No comment.”

This would have been a great time to condemn the advertising company, to cancel the event, to create some good publicity for your club. But no! Your external promotion company runs a series of misogynistic adverts that have made your business look incredibly bad, and all you’re going to say is that it wasn’t done by you? Great. That will make this whole thing just go away, definitely. If people don’t call out misogynists on their crap, particularly when the misogyny is blatant and is actually affecting you, then they will simply continue until they drown us in it. Even allowing this stuff to go on in the first place is a sign of rape culture problem: that promotional company would have had a sizeable number of people working on this advert, and somehow they all came to the conclusion that this was OK. No! This is not OK! And the fact that this attitude can develop in our society is not OK either!

Look, I’ve provided two examples here in thousands that in this country (and many, many others) there are many people with twisted attitudes to rape, and these people have scary amounts of influence. So don’t claim that rape culture doesn’t exist.

Because that’s just fucking stupid.

What’s My Opinion on Miley Cyrus?

Her music is about as distinct, imaginative and interesting as any of her cohorts in the world of pop, and as such I really don’t care for it. Oh, you meant on her choice of clothing, videos and general publicity? Well, why should I have an opinion?

That last question is a good one, and it’s one that many of us should ask ourselves more often. The whole Miley Cyrus debate and accompanying drama is only one instance in many in which everyone- everyone- has an opinion. It doesn’t matter how ill-informed the opinion, or how irrelevant or redundant that opinion might be, everybody not only has one but has to have one. When asked about it (and, when an issue is controversial, you will always be asked about it or have to bring it up) it is not enough to just say that you don’t care. People expect you to come down on one side of the argument, all the time! It’s crazy and unrealistic, and we should try to cut it out.

With this annoying human trait covered, I can examine the specific reasons why nobody should care about anything to do with Miley Cyrus. First, the people who have a problem with her video for the single ‘Wrecking Ball’ have an argument that can be effectively summed up in a single line:

 

The CHILDREN! Oh won’t somebody PLEASE think of the children?!

That is not a rational basis upon which to construct an opinion or argument! Sure, protecting the innocence of young children is fine and dandy and I’m not objecting to that, but it’s not as if Miley Cyrus deliberately made that video to corrupt minors. There was no malicious intent, and impressionable children who find and watch this video got there by their own choices and the choices of their parents. If, parents in the audience, you don’t want your child exposed to something, then it’s up to YOU to make sure that happens, not the person producing the material. Once that separation (if you want it) between children and the ‘offensive’ material has been made, and it can be made easily, why should you care what Miley Cyrus does?

Second, objections seem to include some reference to the way she dresses (or, in some cases, doesn’t) and her general attitude. It could indeed be construed that Miley Cyrus using her body as part of a promotional campaign with the aim of making money is degrading to women, and as such we should care and object to Miley Cyrus doing this. Yep. Fine. Very feminist. Except, of course, that it isn’t: it could also be construed that going on at a woman to dress in certain ways and generally pander to cultural norms as opposed to doing what she has chosen to do is actually very un-feminist, and actually undermines a key concept of women’s rights. We should not, as a rule, care about how a woman dresses or acts unless those acts actively harm anybody else. Does Miley Cyrus twerking hurt anyone else? No. Is it her freedom to do so? Yes. So why should you care? If that’s what she wants to do, leave her alone to do it. She’s not forcing you to watch.

Finally, there is the simple fact that every post with ‘Miley Cyrus’ in the tags, every angry click on her videos to post a righteously angry comment, every mention of the subject to your friends is doing exactly what she wants you to do: give her free publicity. For all that I defend her right to make her own choices, you cannot deny that Miley Cyrus has made these choices to create this hurricane of indignation. And why not? It’s free publicity! If, like me, you dislike the music of Miley Cyrus and have no desire to help further her career in any way, then you will simply stop caring and move on. In the end, it’s none of your business what she does.

That, then, is the summary of my argument. Stops caring about what Miley Cyrus does, because it’s Miley Cyrus. That’s all I’m going to say on the matter.