Miley’s Pole Dance: It’s a Big Deal to this Mom

I found an old friend’s blog today and this post caught my attention. She’s defending Miley Cyrus’ recent “pole dance” on Nick’s Teen Choice Awards. Please read her post for yourself, but to sum it up, she thinks it was really no big deal and that Miley (as most child pop stars before her) must reinvent herself, embracing and expressing her sexuality, if she has any hope of staying power as a serious adult actress.

Ummm. What? Excuse me?

I don’t think so.

My thoughts follow, primarily as a response to Stephanie’s post but generally in regard to the expression of female sexuality in our culture.


We are HUGE Miley fans at our house. Every pencil, notebook, tee shirt, water bottle has Miley’s (Hannah’s) face on it. We have at least three Miley/Hannah dolls and all the accessories.

We have always loved Miley and Hannah and the show and her music. We have always felt she was a positive role model for our daughter. Should our daughter aspire to Miley’s goals, we would be proud (Britney? not so much. BRATZ dolls? Hate them. H-a-t-e them!).

And we STILL love Miley and her show and will STILL allow her into our home. And, actually, this “pole dance” is rather brief, HOWEVER…

I have a few problems with my friend’s sentiment in general: that of the “sexualization of Miley” and her defense of it.

My points:

1. Miley Cyrus is still a minor. She is 16 years old. If any other 16-year-old were involved in sexual acts (and I KNOW she wasn’t having sex on stage, but stay with my train of thought here…), it would be illegal. So, it’s illegal for a man to have sex with a 16-year-old, yet she is paraded around … for what? What are pole dancing, short shorts, wiggling hips for? To turn on men and appeal to their sexual nature. THIS is the very lesson we are trying to teach our 6-year-old regarding modesty. Modesty in dress and action, so, that–very basically–our daughter is not causing boys/men to lust after her. Even though we don’t use those words, that is the goal behind our parenting.

Now, I suppose if one is primarily concerned with maximizing her sex appeal all the time and at all costs and teaching the next generation of women to do the same, then I guess this point is moot.

Those are not my goals as a mother, though. I have HUGE issues with the over-sexualization of both men and women in our culture. In my opinion, it is the basis of all sorts of crimes and issues, including sex trafficking, rape/incest, high teen pregnancy/abortion rates, porn industry destroying marriages, domestic violence, eating disorders, and on and on.

This point would also touch on my feelings about the magazine picture she did last year, too:

2. No. Young girls don’t know what a pole dance is. No. They aren’t going (probably) to run out and aspire to become a stripper. They are, however, going to mimic the sexuality of Miley. My little girl is very sensitive to what she perceives as being beautiful, feminine, and attractive. She picks up on what the “style” is. If Miley wears it/does it, then it IS the thing to wear/do, in her opinion.

We all know that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. It applies here, too.

And, yes, I know I am the parent. And, yes, I parent aggressively with goals for my daughter regarding her sexuality and future. I don’t abdicate that responsibility to anyone else, nor do I believe that Miley or any other celebrity could undo hours and hours of investing in my child.

That doesn’t change the fact that my kid has to live in this world. She will be affected by her environment. Adults are. Ever heard of advertising? The ONLY way to keep the influence of anything or any person away from my daughter is to throw the TV out the window, turn off the radio, and lock her up forever. I prefer to walk WITH her, teaching her as I go (read more below), which brings me to point #3…

3. At the end of the day, I think what Miley is allowed to do/become, is her and her parents’ business. BUT if she/her family/her company is going to step on my back going there, then she better DAMN well care how I feel about it. I hope she understands that if she continues down the sexuality road to preserve her visibility and her career (as Stephanie maintains she needs to do in order to stay viable as an actress), we will be turning off her show and throwing out our pencil cases. My money will not support her participation in the objectification of women, showcasing her sexuality so that my daughter can believe it is an appropriate model of behavior, and teaching my little boys that this is the kind of woman who is considered valuable.

It’s the age-old issue of athletes’ and pop stars’ responsibility as role-models vs. their individual expression/sexuality/”being themselves,” engaging in criminal behavior (Michael Vick?), etc. Hey. I don’t really care what you do. BUT if you have MADE YOUR LIVING getting where you are because of ME and MY KIDS, then I all of a sudden absolutely do care. I have a stake in this. And I think I deserve a voice.

4. And, yes, that dance was TOTALLY a nod at stripper/pole dancing. It was brief, yes, but undeniably exotic, in my opinion. And to make it even worse, the dance was at the Teen Choice Awards (hello? can you say audience members who are children!) and she was dancing on an ice cream cart. The vehicle itself is an icon of childhood, innocence, and frivolity. Was it there to distract from the real intent? Was it to “sanitize” it? By marrying the two—exotic sensuality and the innocence of childhood—the overall effect is a watered-down outcry of “what’s the big deal?” Mmmm. Mission accomplished?

I have no gullible or fearful notions about the culture in which my kids are growing up. I fully embrace the challenge to help them navigate their culture and all it throws at them. As a committed Christian mom, I think it’s better to give our kids the skills and tools (faith, biblical discernment) to deconstruct their culture and evaluate it based on God’s standard. So, for me, this isn’t about sheltering or poo-pooing Miley Cyrus or rock music or whatever: you-fill-in-the-blank.

In that regard, we examine and evaluate our culture with our kids (age-appropriate examples, of course), praying always to esteem sexuality expressed within the bonds of covenant marriage as God designed. Therefore, we will hold some up for positive example.

Unfortunately, others will fall into the opposite category.

I was just hoping Miley wouldn’t be one of those.