At first, you think it’s a parody. Lizzie Crocker has greeted Miley Cyrus’s latest foray into exhibitionism by declaring that Cyrus is setting an excellent example for girls everywhere.
In Crocker’s words:
And so, posing nude in the bathtub, bubbles barely blurring her vagina, Miley Cyrus is again having fun on her own terms. All the anguished blah directed at her says more about our panic over youthful female sexuality than it says about her. Cyrus has shown she’s all grown up. It’s time we grew up too.
Crocker would do well to find out what it means to be all grown up.
I have not done a scientific survey about the matter, but I have reason to believe that most mothers of teenage girls are horrified and aghast that their daughters might take Miley Cyrus as a role model.
At a time when far too many girls are sexting images of their private parts to teenage boys—thus risking exposure to large numbers of schoolmates and being unequipped to deal with the attendant shame—Lizzie Crocker is telling mothers to chill. And she is telling young girls that they should follow the example set by Miley Cyrus and flaunt their sex in public.
It should not need saying, but Crocker is appallingly wrong about this. She might believe that she is fighting the good fight for female sexuality, but, in truth she is telling girls to overcome their sense of modesty and shame.
Miley Cyrus might think that she has grown up. Lizzie Crocker seems to agree. In truth, Cyrus is a celebrity. She is acting more like a porn star than like a woman who is comfortable with her sexuality.
If Crocker believes that such photos are empowering and if she believes that nude photos set a good example, she should put her #%@#& where her mouth is. If she is unwilling to do a Miley Cyrus herself she has no business recommending that anyone else do it either.
Just about every adult woman knows that a woman who is comfortable with her sexuality does not expose it to the general public. A woman who is comfortable with her sexuality holds it in reserve for intimate moments within a constituted relationship.
One would expect that an adult like Crocker understands the difference between exposing your sexuality and enjoying it. Does she really believe that porn stars, the gold standard in shamelessness, are enjoying their sexuality?
Does she not know that they pay a very high price, in terms of their relationships and their social standing, for their jobs.
Any individual, of either gender, who exposes his or her private parts to the public will lose a considerable quantity of respect, both professionally and personally.
This strange brouhaha raises a salient question. If, as I will assume, human beings, especially female human beings are not naturally prone to expose their private parts in public, how has it happened that so many have chosen to act like incipient porn stars?
One can blame it on the iPhone or on Facebook, but that seems like an easy out. The fact that someone can do something does not necessarily mean that he or she will or should.
And it is that much more puzzling when the mothers of the girls who are sexting are almost certainly telling them not to do it and warning them of the dangers that befall those who expose too much of themselves to too many people.
Ought we to denounce these mothers because they are wizened prudes, jealous and terrified of their daughters’ burgeoning sexuality?
For some time now our culture has been trying to undermine parental authority. Parents are routinely mocked for being old-fashioned, denounced for being oppressive and accused of being abusive.
The upshot is that children have been taught not to trust their parents.
And yet, if a young girl were to ask herself: who cares more about you: your mother or Miley Cyrus, how would she answer? If she were to ask herself: who cares more about you, your mother or Lizzie Crocker, how should she answer?
If the culture has persuaded her that Miley Cyrus and Lizzie Crocker have a better notion of what is best for her, better than her parents, this suggests that the work of brainwashing has largely succeeded.
Once you convince children not to trust their parents and not to follow the rules and moral precepts that their parents are trying to teach them, they will naturally look elsewhere for guidance.
They might look to their teachers. They might look to guidance counselors. They might even look to celebrities. Later, they might look to people that the culture holds up as thought leaders.
If girls in increasingly large numbers are indulging the bad habit of sexting, they are doing what they have been told is the right thing to do. They may or may not be following the example of Miley Cyrus. If not, they are probably following instructions that were given them by other people, like Lizzie Crocker and her ilk.