The politics of Twerking: Miley isn’t my enemy capitalism is.

By Ellie Clarke

Right i know in the face of the syria news the MTV VMAs mean nothing but this Miley Cyrus thing is really pissing me off and as it’s refusing to die so i thought i’d write up a few points that are troubling me.

FIRSTLY – miley is a grown woman and if she wants to walk around butt naked that is her business, her body, her life and slut shaming is completely unacceptable. Plus no one is saying dick about the fact that the nude thong bikini is a homage to Robin Thicke’s creepy video ‘blurred lines’.

SECONDLY – while i’m on the Robin Thicke topic. Why is it cool for an old ass married father to glorify having young women twerk on him, but it’s not okay for young women to twerk?

The moral outrage about sex that has followed the VMAs tells me one thing. In our supposedly modern liberal society we still see female sexuality as something inherently wrong and sinful.

THIRDLY – There are people out there arguing that the performance was racist. This is an aspect of the debate that to me is a lot less cut and dry. While I agree that there were aspects of the show that were very racist (Objectifying the black woman on the stage for the enjoyment of the crowd). I don’t believe the act of Miley twerking in and of it’s self was racist. I don’t think you can accuse Miley Cyrus of being a cultural imperialist on an INDIVIDUAL LEVEL. Culture is not and has not ever been bound by race. Culture is by it’s very nature fluid. We now live in an increasingly globalised world where to stop the crossing of different cultures would not only be impossible but awful. I believe it’s fine for white people to twerk as long as (and this is the important bit) IT’S INTENDED AS A CELEBRATION OF THE IMPACT CARIBBEAN CULTURE HAS HAD ON THE WORLD AND NOT AS AN EXPROPRIATION.


Everyone is slating Miley and no one is talking about the T.V executives or record company bosses that are actually to blame. One of the reasons Miley’s twerking was so uncomfortable to watch is because for as long as there has been a record industry it has been expropriating black culture and whitewashing it to make a profit. In my opinion Miley isn’t blameless but she also isn’t what needs to be attacked. SYSTEMIC RACISM IS. As for the sex selling. I defend the right of any woman to wear what she wants or dance how she wants. But i do also believe that in this instance Miley was being exploited herself. she didn’t come up with the costumes, choreography or even write the songs. A lot of high up people in advertising did because they know sex sells. From beginning to end she was acting on behalf of the machine we call the music industry while the MTV bosses sat back and reaped up the benefits of this exploitation.  Don’t get me wrong i’m not patronising the woman i’m sure she understand whats going on and it’s her right to sell her sexuality, but i do believe we live in a society that pushes us into selling sexuality and then vilifies women for doing it. As a little girl Miley sold anti-sex for disney, she was marketed as the wholesome all american girl. Her whole act was based on our obsession with innocence, but what happens when your a woman and you can no longer do that? You have to rebrand. She knows this, marketing knows this and thats why there now selling her sexuality instead of the supposed lack there of.

To summate there were a lot of things that were wrong with Miley’s performance but they’re all symptoms of a much bigger problem. We live in a deeply racist, sexist world where rich white men make huge amounts of money off selling the sexuality of woman and expropriating cultures. This fact is so ingrained and excepted that we don’t even comment on it. every time there’s controversy in the industry we attack the young woman. Who as far as i can see, is caught up in something a whole lot bigger than herself. It’s the awful truth that everyone seems to be ignoring but i think its about time we start taking a long hard look at the picture as a whole. I’m actually going to round this off with a fallout boy quote because they described the situation perfectly. (really i’m not joking) “I keep myself fixated on one star, while the world comes crashing down.”


About womensfightback17

Women’s Fightback is a socialist feminist paper and blog produced by members and supporters of the socialist group Workers' Liberty. Workers’ Liberty is a revolutionary socialist organisation fighting as part of the labour and student movements, and in campaigns, for a socialist alternative to capitalism, based on common ownership and democracy.

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