Thank you, Sinead O’Connor

by Joni Abilene

An unacceptable amount of time always seems to pass before I voice an opinion on current events. The reason is that I philosophize the crap out of everything. I’m never too sure of those who squawk their opinions right on the vapor trail of a news story. It always feels like it’s more emotionally based, their viewpoint, and not so much one centered on careful and considerate thought. Believe me, I’m guilty the aforementioned crime. I’ve yapped my opinion and then defended my opinion and then ended up alone wishing I hadn’t been so loud with my opinion. You know what they say about that, right? That opinions are like assholes?

But anyway, what I wanted to talk about was this whole Miley Cyrus thing that happened, what?, like a month ago or something. She’s still on the news every freaking day, so this topic isn’t completely stale. Like many people, I didn’t actually catch her little MTV performance when it happened, but from what I saw it was a real circus act. I mean, I’m all for someone feeling good about themselves and flaunting their body, but Miley was like a cat in heat, and if you’ve ever been around a cat in heat, you know what I mean. The whole performance seemed to be less about artistic and personal freedom, and more like a kid who’d walked into a strip club for the first time. It didn’t make Miley look good, in my eyes, and it didn’t make me want to buy her music. No one spoke afterwards of her musical talent. And wasn’t the music supposed to be the whole reason for her performance? Here’s the other thing: Miley is and still looks like a child to me. It’s a bit discomforting to see any childish figure bumping and grinding around barely dressed. That’s not entertainment . . . that’s something else. Something gross and icky.

And here’s the other, other thing. When Sinead O’Conner so graciously sent Miley that wise and incredibly touching letter to help her understand why flaunting her young body to the world might be a little bit of a bad career choice—something Miley’s parents should have done—Miley basically laughed in Sinead’s face and went on with her foam finger act. Well, that’s when I became truly offended. That letter was nothing short of amazing. We should all wish to have a famous music legend stop everything to write us a note of love and guidance in our crummy, miserable, lonely lifetimes. Since Miley didn’t say the magic words, and since Sinead’s beautiful letter touched the rest of us, I want to be the one to say: THANK YOU. Thank you, Sinead for caring about the female race. About all humans. Thank you. Thank you.

Last night on the ABC news with Diane Sawyer a report was aired about the emergence of corsets. It showed women being laced and snapped up so tightly that closeups revealed pinched skin with welts and layers of tissue pressed into lines that looked raw as red meat. What these women don’t know, and what they may never know, is that our grandmothers and great grandmothers fought hard to free themselves of the imprisonment of corsets. They wanted to breathe and run and do more than linger around the house feeling half-full of air. They fought hard to vote and to work outside of the home. They fought hard for equal pay and equal treatment in all aspects of their lives. Some suffered emotional and societal damage. Many were scorned and laughed at. Many never saw success. Some never lived to see freedom. And now we want to put corsets on again? We want to strip down and flash our skin and call it empowering?

I can’t believe it.

Real empowerment is honoring yourself—and others—and making choices based on dignity. There’s nothing wrong with being confident in your body, or of your sexual choices. But there is something wrong with constantly using your sex to gain attention. It’s not how the ERA won the right to vote. Think about that. If you want to be a good songwriter, write a good fucking song. If you want to make a statement to the world, open your mouth and speak. Mothers never give birth to their daughters, raise them, teach them everything they know, just so that they can fling themselves into a circus of flesh. Mothers want their daughters to know self-worth, love, respect and freedom.

And that’s all I got to say about that.