Pop music’s wild child wants to know why violence is deemed so much more acceptable than sex.
“I don’t get the violence revenge thing,” Cyrus said, referring to Swift’s “Bad Blood” video, which is supposedly a shot at Katy Perry. “That’s supposed to be a good example? And I’m a bad role model because I’m running around with my [breasts] out? I’m not sure how [breasts] are worse than guns.”
Of course, part of Cyrus’s problem, if you could call it that, isn’t just that she represents sex — plenty of female pop stars do. See: Perry and her whipped-cream spewing bosom. No, Cyrus stands for something far more fringe and less easily digested. While Swift’s image goes down as wholesome, romantic and safe, the performance of Cyrus’s sexuality is brash, untamed and queer — the sort that would absolutely net FCC complaints if Cyrus were let anywhere near the stage of a Super Bowl halftime routine.
“I am literally open to every single thing that is consenting and doesn’t involve an animal and everyone is of age,” Cyrus told Paper. “Everything that’s legal, I’m down with. Yo, I’m down with any adult — anyone over the age of 18 who is down to love me. I don’t relate to being boy or girl, and I don’t have to have my partner relate to boy or girl.”
Understanding that many teens still don’t enjoy the acceptance she does from her parents, Cyrus recently started her Happy Hippie Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to combating LGBT youth homelessness. At last year’s MTV Video Music Awards, Cyrus invited Jesse Helt to make an acceptance speech to raise awareness about youth homelessness after Cyrus won Video of the Year for “Wrecking Ball.”
What’s clear from her previous interviews, and from the limited quotes released from this latest one with Marie Claire, is that Cyrus has little patience for double standards, especially in the music business. “There is so much sexism, ageism, you name it,” Cyrus told the magazine. “Kendrick Lamar sings about LSD and he’s cool. I do it and I’m a druggie whore.” (Cyrus was likely referring to A$AP Rocky’s song “L$D.”)
It’s a distinction that tends to become even more pronounced in death. In June, Molly Beauchemin wrote a piece for Pitchfork illustrating what she referred to as the gendering of martyrdom. Wrote Beauchemin:
The pattern is always the same: one Billie Holiday obituary dedicated an entire column to discussing her 1947 arrest and narcotics conviction; years later a Keith Moon obituary mentioned only that “his death comes at a time when he seemed to have recovered from the excesses of earlier years”, without so much as mentioning that those “excesses” included a well-documented struggle with alcoholism and the 32 clomethiazole pills that ultimately killed him. Whitney Houston, like Amy Winehouse, was depicted as a substance-addled mess in the run up to her overdose death, much unlike the courtesy that was lavished unto Michael Jackson, whose latter-day prescription drug habit was neatly and often dismissively attributed to the rueful loneliness of fame, if it was even reported at all.
“We martyr our women because we fear their greatness,” Beauchemin concluded. “We do so because we fear women who are living out of bounds.” Now it’s Cyrus we see pushing back against those strictures, in all forms, content in her crusade to discomfit us all. She has zero desire to become anyone’s martyr, and hangs on to a steadfast refusal to please just turn it all down.
”A lot of us are born into some s—, you know what I mean? Lately, I’ve been talking a lot about my being gender-fluid and gender-neutral,” Cyrus told the magazine. “And some people snarl at that. They want to judge me. People need more conventional role models, I guess. But I just don’t care to be that person.”