|God Gives Do Overs.|
I don't know about you, but my facebook feed (and I'm sure twitter feed, if I remembered to check that thing) has been hoppin' with helpful blog pieces about the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad things that Miley is teaching our young people, and how to talk to you daughters about essentially not turning into Hannah Montana gone bad. And I think this stuff is important; we should be in dialogue with our kids and teens about what is happening in the world - Syria and celebrities.
But I think this backlash is missing the mark, or the marks, as it were. And here's why:
(1) Most all of it focuses on what a bad seed the former Disney star has become. Words like nasty, disgusting, and obscene are being thrown out without any accompanying language regarding her behavior or the person herself being redeemable. I have taken part in enough sexuality discussions with young people to know that once they have done the deed, been labeled a tramp or a lady's man, they think there is no going back.
Somehow, we have given our youth the impression that sexuality is bad and that sex is a one way road to Trashy Town, and if you go out on a limb farther than maybe you'd like, you can never start over. Our complete and utter disparaging of this 20 year-old kid's unfortunate display of over-the-top stereotypical self-sexualization does not help the young people who are wondering if they can ever turn back from the days of trying to create self worth by skin exposure and openness to touching and being touched. If Miley is just plain bad and gross, what's the hope for a young person who deems him or herself bad or gross.
I'm not saying that we cannot condemn this performance. It was in poor taste. She was not acting like the role model that she has the potential to be for the millions of young people who grew up watching her wrestle with how to talk to boys and dealing with bullies. But that cannot be the only conversation. We must talk about how at 20, she has time to reorient her life, how she is redeemable, how this child who has done something that is less than beautiful is still created beautifully. And she can be different. God gives do-overs. The Bible is filled with characters who get fresh starts. She can have one, and if she wants one (and I'm not saying she does, at least not yet), we need to be as gracious as our creator and provide her the space and the grace to live into who she is created to be.
(2) When we make this conversation all about Miley, we are missing the mark. We buy this crap. "Blurred Lines" has become my go to running song. We tune in (well, I didn't as I don't have cable and am frankly not hip enough to even know it was happening) to see if Lady Gaga will wear the meat dress, if there will be any girl-on-girl action on stage, if there is anything we can condemn or emulate. We buy the myth that you can either be a sweetie pie, goodie-goodie, little girl or a grown up sex pot and then rejoice in their self-destruction. We are part of the media machine that we so hate, and we can opt out if we choose.
But mostly, we miss the mark because we forget that Miley wasn't the only one up on that stage. Girls' sexuality is so much the focus of our ire. Women who have sex are dirty. Men who have sex are men. Girls who dress to be ogled are hoes. Men who ogle are just doing what comes naturally. This is the kind of reinforced behavior that makes it perfectly acceptable to legislate a woman's access to birth control and reproductive health care without engaging in balanced conversations about covering Viagra and vasectomies. Our girls cannot win in this environment, not when they are tots in tiaras, not in their teens or when they are coming into adulthood.
There were two people on that stage (more than that really, but let's focus on the main two). Apparently Robin Thicke invited Miley to accompany him on "Blurred Lines." He is a 36 year old man. She is a 20 year old not-a-girl-not-yet-a-woman. He knew what he was asking was naughty. But for the man, getting a younger girl, a barely legal girl, is "hot". She may have twerked her booty off, licked that foam finger like an ice cream cone and all but begged him to have sex with her on that stage (and, no, that is not okay, and, yes, that is in incredibly poor taste), and a grownup, who respects women, who understands that 20 is still pretty much a kid would say, "Maybe this isn't in your best interest. Maybe you should cover up. I respect you too much to respond when you depend upon sex to promote your value. I'm old enough to be your father, and I wouldn't want a man to look at my daughter the way that I see men looking at you."
We cannot have responsible conversations with our daughters about their sexuality if we do not apply standards of behavior to men as well. I want to see the blog entry, "How to talk with your sons about Robin Thicke." (Update as of 4/29, that very blog entry.)
(As always, I am grateful to you for sharing this journey. Peace, my beautiful friends.)
Take a listen:
Take a listen:
For those of you, who do better with text, here goes:
"You Have Heard it Said . . . But I say to You"
by, Shelli Latham and Casey Thompson (extremely part-time poets, marginally extraordinaire)
Hey girls, the world, it says these things . . .
It's not who you are;
it's about how you're seen.
So polish up your outsides
cause girls must live between . . .
Eyes like bambi's
soft and innocent,
with a sway in your hips
let's the boys know they're getting it.
Gloss on your lips,
begging to be kissed,
by one boy not ten;
there's a limit you all.
Cross it and watch your reputation fall
like thermometer's mercury on a blizzard cold day.
You have heard it said
"There is a fine line between leaving them wanting
and letting them have you."
One tiny breath between trash and tease and
girls, you gotta walk that line like a
gymnast on the balance beam.
You have heard it said.
But I say to you . . .
I say to you,
"You are beautifully
and wonderfully made."
With enough starlight on the inside
to glitter on the outside.
And you don't have to dress it up
with cleavage and sparkle and giggles and strut.
Because, Girl, God made you . . .
God made you enough.
Being a woman's not how you get touched
but how you reach into the world of ache and show love.
Men, you know what they say,
You got to make your own way.
So, don’t be a sissy. And don’t be gay.
If I could change a two word phrase from the English language, it would be Man Up.
Man Down, that doesn’t work. That’s for our brothers in battle.
Man Sideways, that’s the jerk in a bottle.
Man Left, no man is left behind,
Man Right? Shelli tells me no man is ever right.
But I say to you, Man up should mean something else:
Cultivating enough strength to acknowledge you are weak.
and when others are wronged that you will always speak.
that you love who God has made you.
and you did not change when someone else surveyed you.
it means you know where your true allegiance lies.
man up should mean your man up is the man up in the skies.
You have heard it said
"You can have it all"
the beemer AND the mini van
the hot smokin' man
girls nights in Vegas
vacays in Paris
bikini cookouts with family and friends.
But "sweetie pie", dreams don't make themselves.
To have all things,
you've got to be all things.
It's just not enough
to be pretty OR smart
you've got to be an athlete and be good at art.
President of at least four clubs
play the tuba, volunteer
make daddy proud, make mama cheer.
You have heard it said,
"You can have it all."
And if you don't . . . you will fall
in the eyes of your peers
your parents, yourself.
You'll fall to the back of the useless kid shelf
with other middle of the roaders
who never stood out.
So do not sleep and do not rest;
there's only nothing . . . and the best.
You have heard it said.
But I say, but I say . . .
"You, dear child, won't know you're "enough"
if you measure your worth
in check marks and stuff.
The world's math is bogus for adding up you.
You're not trophies, plus sashes, times the size of your posse
or report cards to the power of your number of shoes.
You don't have to be everything just to be something.
Just be God's perfectly created you.
A child knit together before dreams were dreamed of,
made with an extra spoonful of heart.
Made in the image of a masterful potter,
you, precious child, are one fine work of art.
Your price tag's no tally
of your job application,
the brand of your purse.
The sum of ridiculous acts of compassion
that is God's formula for figuring worth.
So, for the sweet baby Jesus in heaven above,
stop trying to be perfect and just perfectly love.
Men, you have heard it said...
either succeed or be dead;
win the family’s bread;
you know the drill,
don’t be shrill,
get left behind,
never suffer to be maligned.
Never admit defeat, never be weak.
It’s all about swagger
(and by the way, Do you have moves like Jagger?).
Don’t be a braggart,
be strong and silent,
be logical like spock,
and never ever talk about your biological clock.
But I say to you...
we hold these treasures in clay jars,
clay jars broken apart,
full of shards flung near and far,
that’s what we are, broken jars,
more a la carte than a work of art,
imperfect from the very start.
so take heart,
that’s what we are.
Failure doesn’t define you. You can leave all that behind you.
Swagger doesn’t make you great--nor your physiological state.
Jesus said the greatest is the weakest,
and that might seem the bleakest
way you might think,
but the strongest who ever lived said turn the other cheek--it’s
what we do.
All that other stuff just doesn’t stand.
Jesus says it’s love that makes the man.