If you hang out on social networks, chances are you've seen the video of Ashton (ahem, Chris) Kutcher accepting the Teen Choice Award earlier this August.
If you haven't seen it, I suggest you take four minutes to watch. It's a great little speech and it makes me happy when things like this go viral. I mean, I would love for my kids to hear this message from someone they admire. And it doesn't hurt that I agree with him. The epitome of sexy is being really smart, thoughtful and generous.
It's much better than, say, gyrating on a stage in front of millions in a nude bikini. Not that we should be that surprised by Ms. Cyrus's performance. Seriously. We couldn't have been that surprised. Anyone who claims otherwise either hasn't been around very long, or hasn't been paying attention.
We told her that acting like that would get her attention, and she listened. So, who's fault is that performance, really?
Sunday night's show-all catastrophe simply continued a long-standing trend of young girls that show up to scream "I'm grown up now!" It's interesting that the VMA's is usually their platform of choice. I don't need to write a whole list, you know who they are, but my memories fall to Britney Spears ripping off her suit, Madonna kissing Britney and, of course, Rose McGowan's non-dress.
Now, please keep in mind, I'm no prude. I think sexuality is important, healthy and keeps us vital. But we're not seeing sexuality on parade here, we're seeing the objectification of human beings. Usually young, pretty ones.
And I'm sick of it. It's enough now.
I can't watch another young girl in a moment saturated with desperation as she screams "Look at me! Look at me! Please tell me I matter! Tell me you see me!" by ripping her clothes off and pretending to masturbate.
I'm sick of this masochistic man-in-a-suit-with-parading-naked-women "scene." I believe it's causing much more damage than we realize. And as a mother of both a boy and a girl, I don't want this stereotype shoved on either one of them.
Note that I'm not saying I want us to avoid sexuality or being sexy. I'm saying that I want us to stop teaching young children that objectification of others is not only acceptable, but expected.
It feels awful to objectify another human being, as our young men are told to do through "artistic expression" like this. Stand there in a suit and make her show you every single part of her. It's all yours. She is here just for you to enjoy.
Then, say to her, "you know you want it," when you can't possibly know what that means. Yes, make it her fault that you feel this way. It's what a "real" man does. You want to be a "real" man, don't you?
What a destructive message to send to our young men.
Then there is the horrific understanding that one is being objectified. How painful is the emptiness that comes with the realization that your body, looks, voice, fill-in-the-blank, is only there for others' enjoyment. To be instructed that this is the truth through image after image, song after song.
You, yourself, (you "hottest bitch") have no intrinsic value.
You exist solely for the purpose of pleasing others. Your needs, your wants, all of you, are of no importance.
That's why Robin Thicke gets to sing about taking a "good girl" and "liberating" her while wearing a suit, but every woman in his vicinity has to be naked. Women are here to serve the sexual needs and fantasies of men, but the women themselves don't matter.
Any young, attractive woman will do. Just keep her naked.
I'm not sure how we turn this around, but I think it starts with sexy men like Chris, or Ashton, or whatever we call him now, saying most of this is "crap." Obviously it starts with us talking to our children about performances like this and asking them how it makes them feel.
But we also have to take a good hard look in the mirror and accept our own part in this. We've allowed this indoctrination of objectification to continue by supporting the artists, and their children, who take this on and perpetuate it.
Now is the time. It's enough.
I'm with Mr. Kutcher (phew, finally figured that one out); Sexy is being really smart, thoughtful and generous.
The rest of it is crap, and we need to start treating it like crap.
And to Miley Cyrus, I'm sorry. I'm sorry we sent you the message for so long that you actually bought it.
It is truly my hope that we'll start working to move beyond it. And soon.