Miley Cyrus Backlash is about Appropriation of Male Privilege

Miley Cyrus is such a racist! It’s true. So many articles were being written, it was hard to keep up. But my skeptic senses started tingling a little bit when I kept seeing her bikini described as “flesh-toned,” “nude,” or “skin-colored.” It didn’t seem like this kind of casual racism would have ended up by accident in article after intersectional article attacking Miley Cyrus for being a “wealthy white woman” using her backup dancers as “literal props,” appropriating twerking (is twerking really the hill we want to plant our flag on?), and being a general terrible human being who had the most offensive and disgusting performance in the history of the VMA.

Well, I decided to watch it in context. And I noticed something.


This guy.

“That’s totally different, Yessenia!” some may cry. “He’s black! It’s completely different when he expresses his power and wealth by using the sexualized bodies of black women as silent props in his performance! Plus he didn’t even attempt to twerk, so whether he appropriated it is moot.”

Only then I kept watching, and I noticed this guy:


So there’s a white male performer who was the other half of Miley’s twerk, still using black (and white) women’s bodies as literal props in his performance, and for his own personal gain. “But he wasn’t the girl half of the twerk, so it’s totally different!” some may have the better sense not to say out loud.

Why 20 year old Miley Cyrus being held to such a higher standard? Does anyone sincerely think she had the total creative control over this entire performance that would be necessary to justify her solitary condemnation?

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Yessenia is a graduate student studying to be a speech therapist with an emphasis on traumatic brain injuries. She spends far too much time correcting the wrong people on the internet, lifting heavy things and training her cats. She's a proud internet atheist and trolls only for the greater good.


  1. August 29, 2013 at 12:07 am —

    Wow. I had not thought of this perspective. Very interesting take.

  2. August 29, 2013 at 4:52 am —

    Were I a more cynical human I would think critics were searching for a reason to shame her but knew they couldn’t get away with calling her a ‘slut’ (or equivalent) outright. So they scrolled through a list of potential outrages until settling on a suitable one.

    “Hmmm what can I use? Corrupting memories of Disney TV shows… no. Corrupting memories of Billy Ray Cyrus…no. Corrupting memories of Billy Ray Cyrus in Mulholland Drive… no. Occupational health and safety… no. Racism… BINGO!”

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