Last week was one of the busiest – and strangest – of my life, as I found myself caught in the media spotlight for a few days following my comments about Miley Cyrus. I was greatly heartened by the number of people who contacted me to express support of my views. Although I’m not in the news any more, the debate still seems to be raging on as to whether women like Miley are acceptable role models for young girls. I continue to take a firm stand that this very sexualised behaviour is absolutely not what we want our daughters to think of as normal. I am delighted that this is still such a hot topic, as I feel strongly that we must keep reinforcing the message: girls should not see this premature sexualisation as something to emulate.
Miley Cyrus spoke to the BBC saying that she is a great feminist. I’m not sure she really understands what this means. Being a feminist does not mean putting your body on show and being as provocative and sexual as possible, simply in order to sell music. In fact I question whether or not this young woman has actually sold her soul in the pursuit of fame and recognition.
Let me emphasise that I am not shocked by Miley’s antics, but I am disappointed that her sole drive seems to be achieving wealth and fame – even if it is at the expense of her moral compass. Does she not recognise that she has a responsibility to those who look up to her?
Lily Allen has hit back with a tongue-in-cheek music video, Hard Out Here, in which she criticises overtly sexual dancing and lyrics as well as the objectification of women. Unfortunately Lily’s song has some explicit lyrics so I am unable, as the Headmistress of a girls’ school, to use it as an example to my pupils. But Lily makes a very strong point that as a female singer she “has a brain” and is far more than a sex object.
I have been exchanging tweets with Reg Bailey, the Chief Executive of the Mothers’ Union and author of the Bailey Report. He tweeted me yesterday to say that 11 out of 14 of his recommendations have been put in place, but crucially the three most important recommendations have yet to be implemented. These are age verification for online access, age ratings on music videos, and covers for ‘lads’ mags’.
As a 40-something mother of three, I am sure there are those who will argue that I am just out of touch and rather old-fashioned in my views. Well, just yesterday the Student Union at UCL in London announced that they have banned the Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke song Blurred Lines. Surely this is a very powerful statement indeed, when even contemporaries are taking a stand against such videos.
When are we going to call a halt? When is society going to stand up and say “enough is enough”? Let’s allow our children to be children for as long as possible, and protect them from blatant sexualisation while we can.