Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Infamous Miley Pole Dance

I have a confession to make. I did not watch the Teen Choice Awards on August 9. I'm sure I was doing something very constructive with my time that caused me to miss out on this incredible showcase of talent - perhaps I was washing my hair. At any rate, it's been tough to ignore the controversy that has stemmed from that evening's festivities with Miley Cyrus and her alleged "pole dance."

Now, in an effort at some journalistic integrity, I found Miley’s performance of “Party in the USA” on youTube and watched the entire thing. The controversy over the dance is clear. Miley was, in fact, using the pole, which was attached to a Miley’s Ice Cream stand (that’s a blog topic for another day), to steady herself as she traveled across the stage. Obviously, standing on an ice cream cart in high-heel boots while singing and dancing requires some level of support. The fact that she occasionally danced in the DIRECTION of the pole was purely accidental, I’m sure.

So here’s my question: in what world do we need pre-teen Hannah Montana followers involved in a debate over whether or not Miley actually pole-danced during a performance? I would prefer that my 12 year old niece not even know what pole-dancing is, much less be able to accurately distinguish between that and dancing near a pole while holding on to it for balance.

I appreciate one astute YouTube blogger’s description of the Teen Choice Awards – that they are “one pair of hooker heels away from getting the word teen knocked off the title.” Of course, the Teen Choice Awards alone are not to blame. We live in a world where even our youngest females are constantly depicted in sexual ways in all avenues of media: where it’s not enough to be smart, compassionate, funny, talented, or even attractive. One must be sexy, hot, steamy, and show lots of skin.

In the world of teen pregnancy prevention, this presents a huge hurdle. How do we send the message to a 14 year old girl that she is more than what she physically presents to the world when she receives messages at every turn to the contrary? And how do we help a 14 year old boy understand that females are more than a potential hook-up when he repeatedly sees images of females highlighting body parts that may not even be fully developed yet?

There are no easy answers to these questions. But in an effort to invest in today’s young people, I for one will make sure I’m washing my hair during the 2010 Teen Choice Awards. And I will make sure my niece is doing so as well.

by: Dana Becker, Technical Assistance Specialist, SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy
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