Miley Cyrus and White Feminism
As the poster child for cultural appropriation, it’s time we talk about Miley Cyrus and her relationship to white feminism. White feminism has a habit of alienating women of color, trans women, and queer women. Classism and elitism create “feminist gatekeepers” that only let in the most exclusive of members into the cult where privileges are viewed as currency, not entitlements to be checked. For those of you out there who are unaware, unless your feminism is intersectional, it’s problematic. Even non-white feminists are guilty of these views (We’re talking to you, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi).
White feminism is characterized by it’s preoccupation with Western standards of womanhood and centers around the struggles and ideals of—you guessed it—white women. That’s not to say that white women don’t face oppression but more often than not it is in the form of misogyny and is generally something all women have been forced to deal with.
As one of the most infamous names in cultural appropriation, Miley has quite literally shown her ass across media platforms and award show stages. However, these days she claims to be “done with the hip-hop scene” and cites misogynist lyrics as the primary reason for her newfound feminist ideals. ‘Lamborghini, got my Rolex, got a girl on my cock’—I am so not that.” Who are you kidding, Miley? We all know that’s exactly what you’re like.
While hip-hop has been the battleground for many discussions around double standards and misogyny, many black women in particular have worked to change the industry from the inside. Nicki Minaj (if you remember Nicki called Miley out on the stage of the 2015 VMAs for, once again appropriating black culture) is just one of the names fighting against the typical portrayal of black women in hip-hop and works to empower women and has avidly spoken out against sexism in the industry. Artists like Jay Z and Beyoncé have bailed out Black Lives Matter protesters and are giving back to communities of color while Miley only co-opted a movement. With no connection to the people who are actually a part of this culture, Miley’s antics prove to be as self-serving as they come.
Cyrus isn’t calling attention to something people weren’t aware of already but it’s her participation in the system that people are calling “bullshit” on. Like many of her “white-girl pop star” counterparts (where is Iggy Azalea anyway? Not that we miss her), she has continuously used black bodies and surrounds herself in black culture in an effort to monetize and capitalize on their experiences and shucks off the persona when it is convenient for her to do so. A classic case of white privilege if there ever was one.
Sorry Miley but hip-hop never wanted you in the first place.