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Miley Cyrus < Betty Friedan: On the Search for a Feminist Pop Star

[Occasionally, friends, there comes a momentous time in our nation's history, which demands solemn observance. An occasion such as Miley Cyrus releasing a music video! Of the bird-centric museum-based dance-off variety! Now: I cannot be the only one who thought that, as sexy avian lady music videos go, this cannot compare to the time Claire Danes discovered her Wings of Transcending Prom Disappointment and/or Outdoor Plumbing in that one Soul Asylum video. (Runaway wings, never coming back! Wrong wings on a one-wing track!) But, you know, wings are a metaphor. For ladies. And how they want to do stuff. And that's, like, feminist or whatever. Right? Well, HA. You will never believe who we got to explain this one for us! Ladies, gentlemen: Ms. Chloe Angyal.]

Miley Cyrus is not Betty Friedan. This is fairly obvious to an intelligent observer, which I can only assume you are, because you read Tiger Beatdown. It’s fairly obvious, but I feel that it’s important to point out that Miley Cyrus has not written a groundbreaking, world-changing book about oppressed housewives. Nor has she founded a national organization of some kind to represent the political needs of women. She has certainly never served as the figurehead and spokesperson for the feminist movement in America (Disney forbids that in their contracts). Miley Cyrus is not Betty Friedan. Neither is Lady GaGa, or Gwen Stefani, or Tina Fey, or Christina Aguilera. Why do I feel the need to point out these rather obvious facts? Because every time any of these celebrities produces a piece of pop culture that is even vaguely feminist, we prick up our ears in hope and wonder if maybe, just maybe, this pop star, this time, might be the feminist icon we’ve all been waiting for.

Miley Cyrus’ new song “I Can’t Be Tamed” has just been released, and with it the video that Sady and Amanda so thoroughly dissected in last week’s Sexist Beatdown. The video’s got it all: Feathers, cages, uncomfortable-looking corsets and even more uncomfortable-looking dancing.  The song and the accompanying video have been discussed a fair bit around the feminist blogosphere, as we’ve come to expect whenever Cyrus releases a new song or movie or TV show or puff of carbon dioxide. The debate touches, as it always does, on whether the song and video are too racy for the 17-year-old popstar, but also, inevitably, on whether or not the lyrics, images and ideas are feminist or not.

The Frisky’s Jessica Wakeman hailed the song as “the new girl power anthem.” Miley’s ‘don’t change me’ message is one that “a lot of girls could apply to their parents, boys, school, religion, and their friends,” Wakeman writes. “Where else will a girl get that message on MTV?” And Wakeman is absolutely right: With the exception of a few “I’m so hot and guys love me” lines, the lyrics to Miley’s new track are pretty empowering-sounding. She can’t be tamed, and she doesn’t want to be, and she wants to run and fly and go and all that good stuff.

Unfortunately, those empowering-sounding lyrics are somewhat contradicted by the super-sexy-with-extra-added-writhing video. And while it would be great to be able to take the lyrics and the video separately, that’s not the way pop music works: Songs and videos are a package deal. And the rest of this package doesn’t look all that empowered to me. It looks like the same old sexy crap we’ve been seeing in music videos for quite some time.

Don’t get me wrong: There’s nothing inherently wrong with sexy music videos. But there’s something galling about pairing a cookie-cutter sexy video, complete with requisite lying-on-the-ground-possibly-touching-herself side shots and a co-ed crowd of scantily clad dancers, with girl power anthem lyrics. It suggests a less than total commitment to your “I am an individual, dammit!” message when you make a music video that looks like every other sexy popstar music video ever. I understand that acting sexy and telling the world to fuck off and let her be might feel like an act of feminist rebellion for Miley, but to me her rebellion looks suspiciously like conformity to the rules of adult or late-teen popstardom.

But whether or not Miley’s new song and video are feminist or not isn’t really the issue here. The issue is why, every time a pop star comes out with a song that’s even vaguely feminist, we try desperately to position that person as a potential feminist flag bearer in popular culture. We did it when Christina Aguilera released “Can’t Hold Us Down.” We did it when Pink released “Stupid Girls.” Hell, I did it myself just a few months ago, when I first heard Lady Gaga’s “Dance in the Dark.” It’s tempting, when there are so few openly feminist celebrities out there, to latch on to any glimmer of girl power hope that comes our way. It’s tempting, but ultimately misguided, to try to make feminist mountains out of girl power molehills.

I understand the need for feminist role models for young people, and the need for feminism to be appealing and accessible to people who haven’t or don’t want to read Audre Lorde. I understand the value of “stealth” feminism, of using popular culture to get a foot in the door with people who don’t think feminism is cool or important. I also understand the desperate desire to see your values reflected in popular culture, and to look for proof that the culture is finally coming around. But if it’s feminist icons we’re after, pop culture simply isn’t the place to find them.

What about Buffy? I hear you say. What about No Doubt’s “Just a Girl” and India Arie’s “Video”?  I don’t deny that they, and many other pieces of popular culture, have elements of feminism in them. But – and maybe this makes me a curmudgeon – I just don’t trust popular culture with feminism. Given its track record of appropriating the movement’s messages in ways that are often seriously problematic, from the Spice Girls to Sex and the City, I’m wary. It seems more than likely to me that a message like the one in Miley’s new song isn’t really about breaking free and being your own person, but about the fact that messages about breaking free and being your own person sell records.

But if quasi-feminist messages sell records, isn’t that proof that feminism has seeped into popular culture? Not really. It’s proof that quasi-feminist messages sell records when paired with same-old-crap videos. And that’s fine, I suppose. The slow infiltration of popular culture by a watered-down version of feminism is better than no infiltration at all. But it’s hardly reason for celebration, and we shouldn’t kid ourselves by trying to argue that it makes Miley a feminist role model. Girl power plus same old sexist crap does not a feminist icon make. In searching for feminist icons, we should be looking to people who are feminist if not all the time, then at least not just when it sells records. We shouldn’t be looking to women who call other women “stupid,” (even they do long for a woman POTUS) or who taunt men about having small penises (even if it is part of a treatise on sexual double standards).

If it’s feminist role models we’re after, we need to look elsewhere, at self-proclaimed public feminists who are out there every day doing feminist work. If it’s feminist icons we need, let’s look for women who devote their lives to helping other women, who live feminist lives every day rather than just singing pseudo-feminist lyrics once in a while. Pop culture is fun, and it’s important: It reflects and shapes who we are as a society. But it’s also driven by profit, and for that reason alone, it shouldn’t be trusted with something as important as feminism.

Gloria Steinem once famously said that feminism is not a public relations movement. What she meant was that feminism is too important to water down or cushion with sexism in an attempt to make it more appealing. In the same way, the need for feminist role models and icons is great, but those positions are too important to be filled by people who co-opt feminism to turn a profit. We need feminist role models, but when we look to pop culture, we’re looking in the wrong place. Miley Cyrus is many things; a singer, an actress, a cultural phenomenon and idol for young girls all over America.  But she is not, and she never will be, Betty Friedan.

[Chloe Angyal is a Contributor at Feministing. "Party in the USA" is secretly one of her favorite songs.]

27 Comments

  1. Meg wrote:

    Cyrus seems to be trying to do what Pink already has done, but make more money off it. Thus, packaging it in the status-quo. *sigh*

    Oh, yeah, and being able to be self-absorbed is certainly privilege. It’s one that hopefully will some day be available to teen-age girls the same way it is currently available to men (of all ages, really), but it’s also not an inherently feminist message, especially since it is reliant on class and race and able-bodied and cis-privilege.

    Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 3:16 pm | Permalink
  2. katactyourage wrote:

    Hey Chloe thanks for writing this piece. I appreciate your insights, especially this line: “It’s tempting, but ultimately misguided, to try to make feminist mountains out of girl power molehills.”

    But I have a hard time with this line: “But if it’s feminist icons we’re after, pop culture simply isn’t the place to find them.” I can’t subscribe to this for several reasons.

    We rarely hear what actual girls think about pop culture. Though the feminist blogosphere has been posting and tweeting about Cyrus’ new video, all these perspectives come from adult feminists . . . not girls. If feminists can’t agree on how to read Cyrus’ new video (ex: your take compared to Wakeman’s post), whose to say that actual girls wouldn’t blow us away with their own unique and complex readings of it? . . .

    Also I have an issue with your take on popular culture because I co-coordinate a music history workshop at a Girls Rock Camp Austin (in Austin, TX). My co-coordinator and I have had to battle fellow volunteers who wish to paint punk and riot grrrl as THE examples of feminist music or feminism in music and cast everything else to the side. This has led to arguments over the feminist potential in everything from girl groups to pop music and hip-hop.

    While we try to point out to girls in camp that there are tons of ways to be in music and to make music – and by extension there are tons of ways to be feminist and to demonstrate various feminisms – the truth is girls have to start somewhere and that starting point is often pop music. I think rather than labeling genres as devoid of feminism or pro-feminist, we need to work on creating a dialogue with girls about what they see in these videos and songs, and expand the idea of what empowerment can look and sound like in the music industry – even the mainstream side of the industry.

    Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 3:37 pm | Permalink
  3. Cynthia wrote:

    Thank you so much for expressing what has been bugging me for a long time about pop culture and images of women. This reminds me of how practically every subculture gets co-opted: nowadays all you have to do to get a pair of bondage pants or a cape is go to the local mall. Similarly, to get your so-called feminist messages all you have to do is turn on any music video channel. Armchair feminism to make us think that things have evolved and are more egalitarian now than they were x number of years ago… well they haven’t and they’re not. Let’s keep that in mind and keep the good critiques coming!

    Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 3:49 pm | Permalink
  4. Chloe Angyal wrote:

    @katactyourage:
    Thank you, first of all, for Girls Rock Camp, which is a fantastic program! I think you’re absolutely right when you say that girls “have to start somewhere” and that pop culture can be a great entry point for budding feminists. What bothers me is the idea that pop music can be a good place to finish, or that we can ever hope to find a feminist icon in popular culture. I just don’t think, given the imperative of making money rather than making things better for women, that pop culture can be trusted with feminism. But I agree that pop music – approached thoughtfully and with a critical eye, of course – can be a great place to start.

    Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Permalink
  5. Miriam wrote:

    I spent several hours last month watching and re-watching the “Can’t Hold Us Down” video, trying to figure out whether it is feminist or not. The first time I remember being really disappointed about the super-sexiness of a music video was when Jewel went all miniskirt in 2003.

    But there’s hope– Lilith Fair is coming back this summer! And Selena Gomez (another product of the Disney machine, for those without 12-year-old sisters) will be playing in New York. So there’s that.

    Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 4:17 pm | Permalink
  6. Lisa wrote:

    Great post, Chloe! I agree, pop culture is a great way to expose young would-be feminists to the idea (worked on me: “Wow, look at her shredding that guitar! Awesome!) But it falls short of expressing the whole package. The fact that pop culture revolves around profit is spot-on – the reason specific things become “mainstream” is that they are radio/TV friendly and appeal to a wide spectrum of consumers. The whole point of being revolutionary is doing something that’s so NOT mainstream.

    I think the problem lies in that pop culture is essentially peformance. Miley Cyrus, Spice Girls, Gwen Stefani, etc. are entertainers and get the big bucks to entertain us. There’s a big difference is performing feminism and LIVING feminism. Cyrus can sing all about how she’s young and empowered – woo hoo! But how empowered is she that she answers to media conglomerates and the tastes of her fanbase?

    Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 4:47 pm | Permalink
  7. Samantha B. wrote:

    Along the lines of what Katactyourage, I think something that’s come up in at Tiger Beatdown in the past is that a song can be an emotional crux at a needy point in your life. A song gets put on repeat after a fight with a boyfriend, a parent, etc. and is really useful for x,y,z period of time. I sort of assume a lot of pop music is crafted with that in mind; god knows there are a fuckload of breakup and teenage rebellion songs. So, yeah, I’m glad that crappy pop music like this can be a crux for girls feeling emotionally besieged in whatever fashion, but I’m also in full agreement that I’m glad there’s shit for them to move on to.
    And Katactyourage: I’m sure you’ve got this covered, but Roit grrl and punk? Poster children for whiteness. So yeah, keep pushing out of those boxes, if you please.

    Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 4:50 pm | Permalink
  8. Jess wrote:

    It’s funny, I have a brand-new blog on which I have written all of five posts and fully two of them are in praise of examples of stealth-feminism (no Miley, but Beyonce, yes). I hadn’t realized I was such a proponent of the “spoonful of sugar” approach, but I do appreciate the way that pop culture can sneak a little feminism past the goalie if it dresses it up first. Holy god someone unmix this metaphor!

    Anyway, I definitely appreciate the distinction between feminism and girl power, yet I still find myself being grateful when something that has all the trappings of, say, a music video also delivers a powerful message. I sort of think of it as cuckoo feminism — the egg looks the same, but what hatches from it is not.

    I agree, though, that looking for feminist ICONS in pop — versus moments or messages that buy in to patriarchy less than completely — is asking too much. In fact our level of attention to and gratitude for the little shards of not-anti-feminism that get slipped into pop songs is a pretty telling commentary on how far we have yet to go.

    Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 5:40 pm | Permalink
  9. mulierosity wrote:

    “If it’s feminist icons we need, let’s look for women…”

    (changing name. please delete previous comment.)

    Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 6:39 pm | Permalink
  10. hekatesgal wrote:

    Doesn’t the content of the video contradict the message of the lyrics? Corsets, well I guess those can be seen as something one wears for one’s self but its hardly an edgy or individual way to be independent (or sexy.)

    Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 8:57 pm | Permalink
  11. Sady wrote:

    @hekatesgal: I’m approving your comment, but I really want to steer away from the whole, “THAT way to be sexy is not the RIGHT way to be sexy” conversation. The point is that it’s predictable, not that you personally have a far edgier and more independent way to get it on.

    Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 9:29 pm | Permalink
  12. Tasha Fierce wrote:

    If Miley Cyrus was going to be a feminist, I’d hope she’d model herself after a feminist who is less problematic regarding issues of race and class than Friedan was.

    Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 10:43 pm | Permalink
  13. Ouyang Dan wrote:

    Umm, why does this feel like a “this is the right way to be feminist and this is the R-O-N-G way to be feiminst” kind of piece? Sure, Miley Cyrus is no Betty Friedan, and she isn’t trying to be. She is trying to redefine herself and breakaway from a manufactured image that has be set up for her, and find a way to have fun doing what she wants to do. As freelance writers some of us can appreciate that. But there is a way to critique pop culture that is helpful, and at the same time recognize that it is not just a ‘good start’ into the kind of feminism that isn’t just for pretty white ladies.

    There are structural and systemic themes and messages to be found in many of the videos you mentioned that you just kind of dismissed when you cast them aside as just a vehicle to make money. Sure, they are performers making money and sharing their message, but aren’t you, and all the white ladies you fawn over who sell books and write for big papers and sell pieces to also making money with their messages? (I sometimes get paid to write, that doesn’t mean that I am not helping women).

    Making feminist critiques isn’t just about the way the white, cis, able, straight, academic people do it. Sometimes the messages are rough and dirty and aimed at people who are not like you, and they get messages to people who are not like you. Pop culture is a way of doing that, in a flawed and complex way that makes a diverse audience pay attention, and it isn’t really honest to dismiss it as a ‘gateway feminism’.

    Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 11:11 pm | Permalink
  14. Sady wrote:

    @Tasha Fierce: Noted!

    @Ouyang Dan: I don’t know. I think that the actual critique being leveled is pretty apt; it’s silly to argue that a person whose job it is to sell as many records as possible is EVER going to “break away from a manufactured image” or engage in real, deep structural critique through her work. Pop stars are not starving artists; they’re people with substantial teams dedicated to making them marketable. She’s moving from one “manufactured image” into the next. And vaguely girl-power messages about wanting to fly and run and go and be untamed have been out there for DECADES (Spice Girls, anyone?) and at most they represent a cynical cashing-in on vaguely pro-feminist sentiments, without any real and deep engagement with feminist issues. I dislike the hostility aimed toward poppy/funny/fun/accessible feminism as much as anyone else (more so, maybe, because I have the thinnest skin in the entire world and always imagine it to be hostility aimed at ME, PERSONALLY) but we should distinguish between pop that might be fun for feminists and pop-literate, fun feminism.

    Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 11:23 pm | Permalink
  15. Ouyang Dan wrote:

    @Sady: Point taken, but I still think that throwing away pop culture as a form of critiquing feminism and saying that it doesn’t measure up to “this kind of feminism” (which totally says that if you aren’t academic enough you are doing it wrong) stands as a solid point. Pop culture has a way of reaching across divides where academic feminism is still pretty harsh on the side of For White Ladies Only.

    Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 11:57 pm | Permalink
  16. Hannah wrote:

    Chloe—

    I wish you didn’t glorify Betty Friedan as THE end-all feminist icon that feminist pop stars aspire to. Friedan, while undeniably a significant feminist crusader, was non-inclusive in her politics–it’s no secret she was homophobic. For me, Friedan represents the problems associated with second wave feminism: it didn’t address the oppression that queer women and women of color faced. It was a movement reserved for upper-class, white feminists. I would’ve preferred, especially because you used a Gloria Steinem quotation, to use Steinem as the central venerated feminist in your article.

    With that said, I do think your criticism of psuedo-feminist pop culture is spot on, and something young feminists need to hear.

    Friday, May 14, 2010 at 11:31 am | Permalink
  17. I actually found this whole article to be super classist, especially with the Betty Friedan stuff (For White Ladies Only). Does proper feminism = reading the right books? What about womanists? Why do some women get labelled “psuedo-feminist” without choosing that label themselves?
    I think it is reasonable to get excited about lyrics, etc., because there are so many different ways to DO feminism, and if there is some sort of definition as to what is the RIGHT way to look at an artist then a lot of people will definitely be excluded.
    Personally, Buffy made me a feminist, David Bowie introduced me to gender play, Beyonce keeps me thinking about feminism, and Peaches, MIA, and Lady Gaga made me queer. And just because I love these products of “pop culture” (which apparently cannot be trusted) does not mean I am uncritical of them (Buffy, for example, is horrific from and anti-racist standpoint). I think we need to give the consumers of things like this Miley video more credit, maybe it means something to them, maybe it will change something in their lives–it’s really patronising to assume that because they maybe aren’t reading the right books and they like things like this that they are somehow “psuedo-feminist”–that is steps away from telling people that they have a false consciousness.

    Friday, May 14, 2010 at 11:32 am | Permalink
  18. Eneya wrote:

    I like this piece. I was trying to same the same thing about Beyonce. (I’m surprised nobody mentioned her here in this discussion so far).
    So the question is… is it possible to make feminist song + video and sell it?
    I hope so.

    Friday, May 14, 2010 at 1:31 pm | Permalink
  19. Chloe Angyal wrote:

    @Tasha Fierce, Hannah and switchintoglide:

    You’re all right, Friedan was far from perfect. So is Steinem, and any other feminist though-leader you care to name; because feminism today is so diverse that it would be hard to name one icon whose ideas and actions please every one of us. But one can’t deny that Friedan is an icon and still, for better or worse and probably worse, the woman the mainstream most associates with feminism. That’s why I chose her when I argued that Miley Cyrus is hardly a feminist icon.

    Friday, May 14, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Permalink
  20. IrishUp wrote:

    “You’re all right, Friedan was far from perfect. So is Steinem, and any other feminist though-leader you care to name; because feminism today is so diverse that it would be hard to name one icon whose ideas and actions please every one of us. But one can’t deny that Friedan is an icon and still, for better or worse and probably worse, the woman the mainstream most associates with feminism. That’s why I chose her when I argued that Miley Cyrus is hardly a feminist icon.”

    @Chloe Angyal: Of course Betty Friedan is an icon. So are, say, Maya Angelou and Alice Walker at this point. I would even bet that the latter are somewhat more known to 17yo’s than Betty. At least a few of them will have been assigned “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” or “The Color Purple”. If you needed to say “Miley Cyrus is not A Feminist Icon” – why not say just that? Or “Miley Cyrus is Neither Betty Friedan Nor Grace Jones”?

    If you’re critiquing Miley Cyrus’ work for not being feminist (enough), it would probably be better to be mindful about not perpetuating feminisms long history of speaking only to, for, and about nice white ladies.

    Friday, May 14, 2010 at 5:19 pm | Permalink
  21. assassin wrote:

    i agree with the piece overall, and don’t want to threadjack, but i can’t let this go without saying something Marginally Important about lady gaga. she’s not betty friedan and i could analyze her for the next few lifetimes, but i will point out that other than her extensive agency over her own work product, the transgressive thing LG does is to deliberately make herself look not pretty. sometimes androgynous, sometimes like an alien, sometimes downright scary, and yeah, sometimes conventional sexyface (with a twist of course). BUT we’re so saturated with images of “beautiful” women that i’m hard-pressed to find another currently relevant female top 40 recording artist who is ballsy enough to not try to look Super Magazine Pretty All the Time, and even goes way out there. it sounds like a small thing, but i think it is really kind of not so small. male performers are free to look scary, funny, schlubby or hot (maybe not androgynous so much), whereas women are told to get highlights and make sexyface for the album cover or no one will buy your Ladytunes.

    Friday, May 14, 2010 at 6:25 pm | Permalink
  22. Caitlin wrote:

    I don’t entirely agree with this piece, but it still makes some very valid points. I too have been guilty, especially lately, of hearing some feminist-slanting lyrics and going, “I CAN HAZ FEMINISM?!?!” I agree that Miley Cyrus isn’t a universal feminist icon, but, then, I’m not sure I think that such a thing can truly exist.

    About approaching pop culture with a feminist lens… I’d probably agree with you that you shouldn’t expect pop music to be progressive. But, to say that pop culture is simply a way to make money (which, true, is its intended purpose) is kind of damaging in another way. For example, I like to look at television and movies and examine, “Okay, how does this deal with race? With sexuality? With gender relations?” But if that form of entertainment is not capable of philosophy, then what I am doing but wasting my time?

    That said, I’m very biased in that I am another who was “converted” by pop culture. I would not be a feminist without Buffy, cheesy as that sounds.

    Friday, May 14, 2010 at 6:42 pm | Permalink
  23. Sady wrote:

    @assassin: Well, yeah, but — AS THE INTERNET’S FOREMOST EXPERT ON GAGAOLOGY, and a Gaga fan, let me say — she’s still a thin, white, abled, cis woman. And there have been plenty of discussions about how she’s straight-up jacking shit that has already been done by women of color like Grace Jones, Kelis, M.I.A.., etc. Not to mention how she deals with disability and trans stuff. I actually love Lady Gaga’s reference points (with the exception of Tarantino, on which EVERYONE DISAGREES WITH ME I KNOW) and how she treats them, for the most part, but she’s cashing in on really substantial privilege and we shouldn’t ignore it.

    @Everyone, re: Betty Friedan: I think a lot of this may have been my fault? I put in the < sign, in the headline, which I wrote. Because I didn't want to just re-iterate the piece's first line, "Miley Cyrus is not Betty Friedan," as the headline. Friedan was, yeah, WAYYYYYYYYY problematic. And I have issues with it, and I've published said issues in the past. Friedan was super-homophobic, her work had a fairly easily pointed-out classist and racist bias, and she affected feminist thought negatively in that direction for just the LONGEST time. But I see the Friedan ref as more of a rhetorical gesture than an endorsement of her work, because The Feminine Mystique is widely regarded as having kicked off the second wave of feminism in America. (The Second Sex was also available, in translation, prior to all of this, but it was The Feminine Mystique’s publication in 1963 that marked the tipping point for organized feminist activism.) So, like, if you were to negatively comment on someone’s level of impact on feminism or feminist thought, you could very reasonably say, “well, she’s no Betty Friedan!” And that doesn’t mean you even LIKE FRIEDAN’S WORK, because I fucking don’t. It’s the equivalent of looking at any given pop star and being like, “well, she’s no Madonna,” even if you don’t like Madonna’s work (which I ALSO don’t, but I also sing “Like a Prayer” in the shower to cheer myself up, and also, I’m going to download “Like a Prayer” RIGHT NOW.) It just means she hasn’t been as influential or central or whatever to the history of feminist thought as this other lady. Even if you don’t like this other lady. Yeah?

    Friday, May 14, 2010 at 7:58 pm | Permalink
  24. GarlandGrey wrote:

    “a message like the one in Miley’s new song isn’t really about breaking free and being your own person, but about the fact that messages about breaking free and being your own person sell records.”

    THIS. FOREVER.

    Saturday, May 15, 2010 at 1:12 am | Permalink
  25. ND wrote:

    @Sady, who wrote: ….and she affected feminist thought negatively in that direction for just the LONGEST time. But I see the Friedan ref as more of a rhetorical gesture than an endorsement of her work….

    I’m glad you said this. Really.

    In the same way that non-boring writing about these issues calls for rhetorical gestures and shorthand refs to convenient abstractions (eg Friedan-as-feminist-symbol) …reading about these issues calls for a corresponding good will should (as it inevitably does) a rhetorical gesture happen rub a reader the wrong way (eg Friedan-is-problematic-but-the-point-is-taken.) I often feel that the absence of that good will holds feminism back.

    Hmm… does Rhetorical Gestures seem like the name of a band?

    Saturday, May 15, 2010 at 10:40 am | Permalink
  26. ND wrote:

    (sorry about the italics)

    Saturday, May 15, 2010 at 10:41 am | Permalink
  27. I think the issue still stands that it is fairly classist to be labelling things “psuedo-feminist” because they aren’t backed up by fancy fem theories in books, or a wmst degree. What if Miley is someone’s feminist hero? What if Beyonce is too? Maybe we need to consider that young girls are capable of critical thinking, and DO both aspire to be like their pop culture heroes and look at them critically as well. It is less the Betty Friedan thing that bothers me, and more the creation of an “in-group” of true feminism versus the “not-to-be-trusted-pop-culture” psuedo-feminism; all this demarcated along the lines of having read the right books. Reeks of privilege, sorry.

    Sunday, May 16, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

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  2. [...] days ago, Chloe Angyal wrote a piece for Tiger Beatdown entitled “Miley Cyrus < Betty Friedan: On the Search for a Feminist Pop Star.” Springboarding off The Frisky’s Jessica Wakeman’s assessment that Miley [...]