Sinead and Miley and Art, Oh My!
A few years back the older kid chastised her dad and me that she was NOT HIP on the current music scene, and she felt that it was our job as parents to get her up to speed. We kindly informed her that it was her own job to figure out what her music is, but agreed that she definitely needed more tools at her disposal. So I did the only thing I could think to do and subscribed to Rolling Stone Magazine, the place where I learned about such things as punk and lesbians, since my small town Kansas education did not include these things. Flash forward to the other day, when we got the current issue in the mail and it featured yet another scantily clad jail bait kid on the cover being all sexy. I am not one to hide things from my kids, I have usually been successful in trying to paint a their world appropriate perspective of whatever issue is blazing away from the cover of whatever magazine. So I put it aside in order to have a little chat with them about it. We sort of came to the conclusion that being all sexy can be fun, and totally OK given the right circumstances but that doing it on the telly or on magazine covers might not be a great idea, as far as they personally were concerned. I will admit, I was pleased to hear it, mostly because we were not judging Miley’s choices, just trying to put ourselves in her shoes and think about what we might do. Miley is her own person and should be free to do what she wants to do, we decided.
Then the letter from Sinead O’Conner came out. My first thought when I saw it was oh dear, here it is, the slut shaming backlash. But after reading her words I printed it out and stapled it over the magazine cover. I left it where they would find it with their other breakfast reading material and then we proceeded to have even more discussion along the lines of is this OK to do publicly? What do we think Ms. O’Conner’s motivation was? Was she trying to speak directly to Ms. Cyrus or was she speaking to the world at large? Because it seemed to me that while her words were spot on and gave me a wonderful leaping off point to have the sorts of discussions that I was having with the kiddos, that her motivation was probably not to help Miley so much. And here is where we leave the celebrities to their petty squabbling.
Because this is where our conversation veered off towards the interesting. We had watched the old music video including the infamous clip with the picture of the pope from SNL. We talked about what it might mean to have the attention of the world, and how one might want to use that to say something important and meaningful. We talked about the difference between making our own choices, with the advice of people who care about us and have our best interests at heart or letting someone take away your voice and replace it with theirs. I was blown away with gratitude for the opportunity to have these conversations.
So here’s where I boil it all down. Here’s what I want to say to my smalls, and to all of the smalls who are out there trying to figure out how to be who they are and how to make their own kind of art. Sometimes in our lives we find ourselves in situations where we think we know what we are doing. It just might be the case, though, that we are really not that hip to our situation, and it’s possible that someone who has actually been in our shoes before, possibly years before, might have some insight as to how the system works. As a lady person, I feel it is my duty to point out to the other people with whom I am sharing this planet when it is the case that they are being used in a way that they might not be aware of. Because they should know. Because I would want to know. They should know if and when there are a whole lot of invisible wankers behind that screen, or curtain, and they should know just how their art is being marketed and sold and just who is profiting and just what that profit is. Because maybe they care and maybe they don’t but they should know and they should be able to decide if they want people wanking to their art or not. Because if they don’t mind I don’t mind but if the art is being used for wanking against the artists will and intention then I have a big problem with that and I want the artist to be able to put a stop to it. I have a hard time when we don’t include all genders in our respect talks, I don’t believe that only women can be wanked against their will, I just don’t like it when the power struggles involve us against us rather than us against them. Us being the kindlies and them being the anti-consent gathering wankers.