The following is a letter I sent to my sister today about her "liking" a post from a conservative group on facebook, which was going on and on about the subject of Miley's "immoral" behavior at the VMAs this last week.
(I took the Christian side on this one, as my sister is a very strong believer.)
"I totally get what you're saying hun...
I was just reminded that the body-positive image was precisely why you went through hours of needle-on-skin pain.... to show your faith in christ, but while being okay with some amont of modern-day vanity... And the nose piercing/ear piercings too... to show that you're a strong body-positive Christian... who is a little less focused on tradition, and more focused on faith. Both considered sinful by some, but you see past the tradition, and the old world views.. to what it really is... simple self expression.
As I mentioned in my first note.... I think you have a very strong moral compass... as do I... and that will lead your awesome parenting style... you call yours faith in Christ, and I simply call mine "morality"... either way, we certainly agree that we don't want to see those girls doing the "Miley" one day.
But regardless of what we call our spiritual guides.. be it Christ, Allah, Krishna, Buddha, Tao, "The Way," Messiah, Spirit, God, The Devine, Nature, "The big Kahuna," whatever or wherever you live, the fiber or the concept of morality is the same. We want to live through our calling... you in Christ, me in my morality.
Upholding moral values is a principal concern in Christian faith.. its been there from day one. Even when we stoned people, arranged marriages, cast members out of society, and forever shamed women for sex out of marriage... even in cases of rape and incest.
We meant well, even if some of our concepts were flat out fucked-up, sorta backward, or just plain contradictory to our faith-led agenda.
But thank goodness, times have changed.
So I guess you sorta didn't see the irony I was trying to point out in my remarking it as shame. Because, obviously this disney kid grew up in a faith household, and was brought up in a morally sound way, and still, this is her course of action in life. What happened? Did we ponder? Ask? Or did we jump to conclusions?
I don't think we did think this one out.
I found it incredibly ironic that a conservative base was shaming her... choosing to ridicule a 20 yr old openly on facebook. Is that the kind of world we want our kids growing up in?
If she was simply taught that god wants her to "respect her body," she could come up with all sorts of personal conclusions..... much as different cultures around the world have done.
Maybe tattoos would be ruining gods great design, or maybe a skimpy summer top?
Maybe piercing it is crossing the line, or maybe waxing your pubic hair?
Its highly interpretational, obviously.
In many parts of the world it means literally not exposing any part of your body... even your face.
It can be interpreted to mean never cutting your hair.
In jewish regions it often means cutting genital tissues off of infant boys, or in African regions, slicing off young girls labia, and repeatedly pounding their breasts.
To us, some measures seem extreme, but to them, its inconceivable to do anything else. Its simply tradition, and they are entitled to their faith-base too.
All people mean well. Its just that they have different traditions associated with their faith. I try not to judge... which is why I didn't bring up any sort or religious references, or lack thereof, in my online rant, or in my message to you. Instead, I think we can all agree to disagee that we have different motivations and belief systems that pave our moral compass... your prioritys going, of course, to Christ.
My issues are many, but the first is simply that of tradition.
Our grandparents thought loud music, short hair, and pants on women were vulgar, and sinful.
Morso, biblical and post biblical era clergy/apostles/saints/baptisers ect thought simply exposing your legs was incredibly vulgar, and not morally sound.
I think we can both agree that we've come a heck of a long way, esp considering that the biblical perspective, in the time of Jesus, was 100% male dominated, and women were seen largely as property.
As such, the scriptures took on that tone.... with moral subjectivity favoring male roles dominating females in society, in biblical reference, and largely in all church tradition and role.. this is a huge proportion of the bibles beginnings. Scholars in divinity will confirm this bias from the start... it is fact. We read it then, and we read it now. Women were subordinant.
We know now, of course, that we weren't always the most forward thinking, and now women are given the choice of who they marry, instead of being awarded to men like sheep or material goods. We can show our hair, wear bathing suits, and be included in the church as equals. Virtually everyone in the US believes this anyway.. most of the rest of the world has some catching up to do on gender equality.
With this role of ever-changing tradition in mind, I only ask that you ponder what morality and blasphemy mean to us now. Not what they meant to our parents, or to our grandparents, or to Jesus and his cohort of wise dudes and deciples in robes. They all meant well in their day, but times are really really different.
For example, when I personally see a tongue, I don't associate taboo. I don't get offended. Its simple anatomy... just like seeing kids dressed in bathing suits in summertime... we see their body, it doesn't lie... we see every nook and cranny harnessed under spandex. It would have been punishable by stoning or hanging back in the day, but now its simply swimming, or a tongue.. makeup, or body art...doing pool laps are not necessarily sexually perverse anymore.
Maybe shaking your tukkus in the air, and flagiliating your tongue muscle about seems obscene to us, but I honestly think in another twenty years, it will be old news... as were Elvis' controversial hip thrusts back in the 50's.. laughable now, right? Those were morally objectionable then, and Christians spoke out against it.
Was he wrong? Confused? A poor example? Very few think so now.
The good news is, moral fiber and strong convictions to faith and morality stand the test of time.
If trends continue, and we're all running around in boobie-jiggling pasties, and g-strings in another 80 years, we can still have a strong moral compass... even when our boobies and butts jiggle about on stages in front of live audiences. It doesnt change what's in our hearts.... that began in Jesus, and it transcends time, tradition, public opinion, and thongs.
Which ties into my other main concern... shaming.
One can raise a child around the most positive and forward-thinking Christian household, but still fail at teaching these basic values. The values of self-respect.
It all comes down to respect... to god most importantly, and then to our family.. to our kids, and to ourselves.
Why is it shameful and ungodly to dress in a skin-shade bikini? Or shake your butt in the air (as they say) "like you just don't care?"
Well, there are a miriad of reasons why you, me, society could consider it blasphemy, but in the end, it just boils down to their personal reasons/opinions/cultural biases' behind doing such an act.
Is she protruding her pubis because she's lost self-control? Is she without moral compass? Does she think shes worthless, and slave to whatever her agents tell her will put on a good show, despite any sort of moral obligation on her part?
And I think we can all agree, secular or not, that if those reasons are not in line with loving god, and self, shes basically acting alongside satan, or as I would consider the concept... "not thinking for herself".. (my own ultimate personal sin) Does she lack a sense of self worth?
We would say then that she is unmistakably without morality on that stage.... and a bad rolemodel for our kids.
On the other hand, she might just be really optimistic about the future of showbiz. She might honestly think that provocative booty dance of hers is just "the new Elvis of the 2013 era," and that she's going to go down in history for it.. much like Elvis did, or the Beatles did (with strong opposition at the time) on public TV back in the day... when we were certain everyone watching was going straight to hell alongside them.
We make mistakes, sure. But sometimes we know exactly what we're doing... what if her moral agenda and faith in Christ is really quite strong? We have no clue.
Should we be quick to judge the naked girl up on a stripper pole? Maybe she's trying to earn enough money to pay rent and put food on the table for her kids?
Should we look down on the huge prostitution rings in India or South Africa? Maybe those sex-workers are selling themselves to put their daughters through primary school, so they have a fighting chance to get out of poverty.
Fact is, whether it pushes our buttons or not, only god can judge her. Only god knows what's in our hearts.
So yeah.. Miley pushed many of our buttons the other night... she made us feel many things... from ashamed, to embarrased, to morally corrupt as a society... but honestly, I see others opposition to such an act as more of a reflection of their own personal convictions, than a positive move in the right direction for others.
I'd like to think (as the optimist I am) that this woman is strong willed, and thinks she honestly knows what she's doing up there. Shes defining an era.
I do think she's strong. I think it takes guts to do something extreme like that in front of millions of viewers.
I don't choose to shame her, or to judge her... mostly because I have no idea what her motivations are behind doing an act like that.... I don't personally know her, but I'm suspect to her feeling "innovative" and "body-positive" over "slutty" or "of poor self-worth."
I think she is trying her best.
If she truly felt that she was in the wrong, she probably wouldn't be in show business in the first place... its a male-dominated platform, and its tough to make any sort of money of the same magnitude.
Feeble-willed folks don't make celebrity status with low self-esteem, they just don't. It takes charisma and badass to try new innovative ideas.
Just like Rock and Roll once did.
And did people throw their arms up in disgust when Macklemore/Ryan Lewis came out on stage time and time again in booty shorts and humped his crotch at the audience? No, we laughed. We didn't question his judgement. Why? Because we aren't nearly as quick to judge the moral fiber of men in this society. We accept male sexuality as normal, and natural.
So why throw these charges out at Miley? Well, because she's a woman, that's why.
Its not hard to see the inequality of male-domination seeping out of every pore, every crevice, in our society.
We still believe, much like we did pre-suffrage, in critiquing females much more-so than males. This is just the way our society functions.
I personally think this chick is just trying to make money in a changing social construct.... just like everyone else in the entertainment industry... Shes trying to find the new big break-out success story we all yearn for women to make.
Just like Madonna so shamelessly and fearlessly did in the 80s.. And yeah, these women are smart. They know sexy bodies sell bigtime... more than anything else really... put two and two together, and that spells big business, and big success. Our consumer-based society likes eye-candy. Be it a classic painting, a fancy hair-do, a shiny pair of shoes, a detailed upper-arm tattoo, or a flesh-tone bikini... we think its appealing, and it sells records.
But do we know her deep-seeded moral priorities in life? No. And that's why I call it shaming. Its unwarranted, its sexist, and its not very body-positive to assume we understand her motivations as a human being granted her free-will.
I think most Christians would agree with me about the idea that we have no right to judge her morality... that judgements like those can only come from Christ.
So yeah, it worries me. Shaming worries me when its unwarranted.
I think that's why women learn to hate their bodies, often choose to not to get a quality eduction, and on many occasions, seek less-than ideally supportive husbands/partners.
Shaming is why we learn to hate our bodies, and why we are so quick to throw judgement at others.
We are very often insecure, and thats why I see threads like that on facebook and just cringe.
We mean well, but do we really?
Are we teaching moral-fiber, or are we spreading insecurities and hate?
I would like to think that god isn't so petty.
I think he values a loving, wholesome, and inclusive perspective on body-image, but more than that.....
I think he cares about the big stuff... like, Are we doing his bidding? Are we true to ourselves, and in turn.. are we true to Christ? Hence the temple and respecting it. Do we teach Gods love and acceptance? Do we emulate love and accept sinners the way the savior would?
Are we we really judging Miley, or are we just judging ourselves?
I think without a doubt, god would teach each and every one of us love and acceptance of this girl, instead of ridiculing some 20 yr old over a social media outlet.. judging them publically over and over again. What does THAT say about us as a society?
Do you see what I mean? Its just ironic.
Thats why this touches me so deeply, and I fear for those girls and how society will shape them... If I had read that article as a young girl I would have gotten very mixed messages.
I know we all mean well, especially you as their lovely omomma... but in the end.. teaching them self-respect and body exceptance will scale the test if time... it will mean more to them even if traditions change...even if we all turn into one big giant wiggling nudist colony one day... they will be strong enough to make good, true, faith-based decisions about their bodies, and how they relate that to their higher power.
Amen to that, Sis. :) I love you too.
With this all in mind, I'm wondering what you think of these folks in this link here...