The Miley Cyrus performance at the VMAs has received quite the reaction. She appears to have shocked celebs as well as the media, and has even been blasted by a group of angry parents. The Internet outrage over her performance has spawned multiple offshoots, including a backlash against people slut-shaming Miley, as well as criticisms about her appropriation and exploitation of black culture.
What has been largely been missing from the conversation (with a few notable exceptions) is the lack of outrage at the 36-year-old man who ground up on Miley’s 20-year-old ass while singing his summer megahit rape culture anthem.
Far fewer people are expressing concern about the catchy song in which a husband and father outlines with complete confidence his ability to infer when “good girls” “want it.” The same guy who, when discussing the lyrics to his song, tells an interviewer:
Even very good girls have a little bad side. You just have to know how to pull it out of them.
The guy who boasts that he based his hit song on the time-honored masculine performance of hollering at bitches:
We started acting like we were two old men on a porch hollering at girls like, ‘Hey, where you going, girl? Come over here!’ That’s why, in the video, we’re doing all these old men dances. It was great.
That does sound pretty great, Robin.
Overall, the 2013 VMA debacle provides a painfully accurate example of the sexual double standard we have for women and men. A woman who performs sexuality (for whatever reason) is to be castigated, while a man who engages in the exact same performance (and who has unabashedly doubled down on his support for the rape myth that no means yes) hardly raises an eyebrow.
Brett Wheeler is a part-time psychology professor who is pursuing a PhD in positive psychology. His research interests include human sexuality, humor, and how these variables contribute to well-being.