How Not to React to Miley Cyrus on Gender and Sexuality

This post was originally posted on The Good Men Project which you can check out here!

Miley Cyrus: a name that conjures many images. Some think of the young girl who played Hannah Montana in their child’s favorite television show. Others imagine the leotard sporting, foam finger wearing woman dancing with Robin Thicke at the VMA’s. Now more often than not it’s the latter. And either way her name makes people raise eyebrows. Cyrus is aware of her ability to turn heads, “when you have all eyes on you, what are you saying? And that’s what I had to ask myself a lot. It’s like, I know you’re going to look at me more if my breasts are out, so look at me. And then I’m going to tell you about my foundation for an hour and totally hustle you.” 

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Cyrus has discovered what to do with our attention. The star recently had an interview Out Magazine. In the interview Cyrus discussed the launch of her new organization, The Happy Hippie Foundation. The non-profit’s mission is, “to rally young people to fight injustice facing homeless youth, LGBT youth and other vulnerable populations.” Cyrus will be releasing videos of musical performances hosted in her backyard to raise money and awareness for her campaign. 

The part of her interview that most are talking about is her statement concerning her sexuality. Cyrus stated, “I didn’t want to be a boy. I kind of wanted to be nothing. I don’t relate to what people would say defines a girl or a boy, and I think that’s what I had to understand: Being a girl isn’t what I hate, it’s the box that I get put into.”

Mary O’Hara at the Daily Dot went, as far as to state that Miley “appears to be genderqueer.” While I do not want to add labels that Cyrus has not claimed herself, it is safe to say this interview has pushed her into a realm that challenges the traditional understanding of gender and sexuality.

Conversation surrounding gender non-conformity in the media has been on the rise. With Bruce Jenner’s latest interview, Laverne Cox’s nude photo shoot, and the young Jazz Jennings getting her own TLC television show, the discussion is moving forward, into the light of mainstream news platforms.

Several news outlets have discussed Miley’s recent statement about her sexuality as explaining every questionable thing she’s done in the past. As if the whole world went oooohhhhh upon reading the interview.

I want to see discussion surrounding Cyrus and all of the other recent stories that show strong people breaking gender norms, focus on bravery, the work they are doing, the discrimination they have faced, the hurdles they crossed and how we can support them.

Not a statement of oh that’s why she smokes weed, that’s why she went crazy, on and on trying to make sense of their behavior based on their sexuality. Let’s treat these people with the respect they deserve, as the heroes they are.

I’m proud of you Miley.

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