That fleshy bit of tissue is more mythical than Sisyphus' rock (although many men have blamed both for their feelings of deep-seated failure).
Everyone is a virgin. Or nobody is. Whatever: "Virginity is a social construct." Miley Cyrus says so.
The 26-year-old pop singer recently released a red latex-filled music video for "Mother's Daughter," the latest single off her EP She Is Coming. Cyrus has proven to the world that despite marrying Liam Hemsworth, she hasn't settled down, still appreciates hot women, and she's still freaky. The trippy, provocative music video, conceptualized by the singer and directed by Alexandre Moors, includes blocks of text with messages fit for a 13-year-old's wannabe-edgy Tumblr post, like "Sin Is in Your Eyes," "Not an Object, "I Am Free," and the one Cyrus recently shared on her Instagram account, "Virginity Is a Social Construct." The ensuing debate within her comment section clarifies that we, as a society, have no idea what "virginity" actually is.
First of all, because the United States has an 86% literacy rate but a population in which 50% of adults can't read above an eighth grade level—people didn't read the message that closely. The singer's two posts with the screen grab quickly received over 11,000 comments. Many assumed for some reason that it was criticizing those who abstained from sex and "shaming" virgins, while others contested the idea that virginity was anything other than hard science.
What's painfully clear from this heated interaction over a venial celebrity post is that a serious problem with sex education (and basic knowledge about the human body) exists in the U.S. Aside from the fact that we're only just now realizing that abstinence-only sex-ed doesn't work, we have a tradition of teaching teenagers outright incorrect and unrealistic information. As Laura Lindbergh, research scientist on reproductive health, noted in her study on adolescent health and sexual behavior, "We fail our young people when we don't provide them with complete and medically accurate information."
Now, despite the perception of nonstop connectedness on social media, dating apps, and hook up culture, it's an empirical fact that millennials are losing their virginity later in life than previous generations, embarking on fewer dates, marrying at a later age, and, in general, having much, much less sex. It's no wonder, what with their rampant intimacy and trust issues (you know, as a result of inheriting a world of fractured politics, heightened social isolation and anxiety, and a planet that will dissolve under their feet while they pay more and make less money to fund efforts to reverse the irreversible damage).
So while "millennials in their early 20s aren't having sex, and are more than twice as likely to be sexually inactive than the previous generation," what does this mean for the outdated notions of virginity?
The history of virginity and its surrounding stigma involving "purity" and moral high ground is, of course, groundless. But as a form of social currency that values untouched women as exchangeable commodities, the idea is mainly rooted in religion. Oddly, no one's sure where the idea that virginity mattered originally came from, with earliest written records signaling it held great social value but with no clear explanation as to why. From ancient Greeks evaluating young girls' nipple shapes to the medieval practice of checking newlywed's bedsheets for blood to verify a consummated marriage (thereby legitimizing the dowry), desirable virgin women could gain their families wealth and higher social status. Then there's hundreds of years of Christian theocracy and worship of the Virgin Mary to increase the premium on virginity as a symbol of "successful patriarchy as a whole."
Today, too many still defer to the outdated belief that female virginity is defined as having an intact hymen. One of Cyrus's invested commenters posted, "What? That's like saying puberty or menstration [sic] is a social contract. They're physical things, they involve physical changes." Aside from the obvious fact that this definition dismisses sex between non-female bodies and non-penetrative sex (which carries just as many risks of contracting STDS and so is just as valid and significant), let's talk about hymens.
That fleshy bit of tissue is more mythical than Sisyphus' rock (although many men have blamed both for their feelings of deep-seated failure). In reality, "having a hymen and being a virgin are not the same thing. Some people are born with hymens that are naturally open. And many other activities besides sex can stretch your hymen. So you can't tell if someone has had sex by the way their hymen looks or feels."
Really, we should thank Miley for highlighting that virginity is just as messy, disruptive, emotionally fraught, and hilarious as sex is, with her thousands of commenters running the gamut from sex positivity to virgin shaming to religious zealotry. So remember: never shame what other people choose to do with their bodies, read like a 9th grader, and always use protection (because even hand stuff can get dicey).
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They are two masters at the top of their game—their game just happens to be making fools of themselves.
Once in a generation two titans in their fields go toe-to-toe in a battle that will echo through the ages.
Ali vs. Frazier. Venus vs. Serena. Kasparov vs. Topalov. Now we have a new match to mark down in the annals of history. Not between two great athletes or cunning strategists, but between two of the most unflappably obnoxious ghouls the world of TV punditry has ever known: Rudy Giuliani and Piers Morgan.
In interview after interview they have each proven themselves incapable of allowing others to speak or of recognizing when they're making asses of themselves. No call for civility or reminder of their contradictions will convince either of these mythic figures to back down, apologize, or allow someone else to finish a thought. To see such paragons of interruption and phony outrage sparring over President Trump's disgusting handling of the George Floyd protests—shouting over each other through a delayed video feed—is like watching Baryshnikov and Nureyev stomping on each other's toes.
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Facing allegations of cultural appropriation, Miley Cyrus took to Instagram in 2017 to clear the air about her comments surrounding Hip-Hop.
"At this point in my life, I am expanding personally/musically and gravitating towards uplifting, conscious rap," she wrote. "As I get older I understand the effect music has on the world & seeing where we are today I feel the younger generation needs to hear positive powerful lyrics!"
On "Unholy," a two-minute cut from Cyrus's latest EP SHE IS COMING, she sings: "I'm a little drunk, I know it. Imma get high as hell. I'm a little bit unholy. So what? So is everyone else." On "D.R.E.A.M," Cyrus calls out: "Hit the ghost, raise a toast / Pop the molly, drugs rule everything around me." Later in the song, Ghostface Killah makes an awkward appearance and raps: "Purple Perc, sticky green Mollies, sipping lean, got the white that's sure to light the floor like in 'Billie Jean.'"
It's not uncommon for Miley to say one thing and do another. She has often labeled herself as someone who "can't be tamed," and that assessment has only been somewhat accurate. In 2009, Cyrus and some friends were seen slanting their eyes in a gesture that typically mocks Asian people. Groups like The Organization of Chinese Americans demanded an apology, but Cyrus refused until the blowback became too intense (she finally stated that the whole scandal was a valid "learning experience"). During a performance of her song "We Can't Stop" at the 2013 MTV VMAs, she stripped down to a nude latex bra and panty set and twerked on misogynist shit-bird Robin Thicke. After being additionally criticized for using black dancers as accessories during the performance, she told Rolling Stone: “those aren't my accessories. They're my homies." Shortly after her Bangerz tour wrapped up–each performance on the tour included scenes of mock orgies and inflatable penises–Miley gave a controversial interview with Billboard, wherein she dismissed hip-hop as misogynistic, despite her direct appropriation of the genre.
Later in the interview, Miley insisted that her Bangerz follow-up would be country influenced and more family-friendly. 2017's Younger Now kept that promise. Country-infused and devoid of hip-hop influence, her record went on to sell only 45,000 copies it's first weekand was derided by critics as being "lifeless" and an uninspired attempt at reinvention. "[It's] too soon to know whether this, finally, is the 'real' Miley standing up," wrote The Guardian. It's clear now that her return to hip-hop was all but inevitable after Younger Now's flop. After all, it's been proven time and time again that Miley is desperate to remain famous.
Yet the main issue with SHE IS COMING is that it's equally as uninspired as Younger Now. "Party Up the Street" is stiff and lifeless, with Swae Lee sounding lost and confused as he stumbles through his verse: "You can see our feet from the street since the garage was halfway open," he sings breathily. "The Most" is a flaccid love song that attempts to justify Miley's toxic behavior towards her now-husband Liam Hemsworth. "How many times have I left you in the deep?" she sings in closing, "I don't know why you still believe in me." The issue with believing and trusting in Miley Cyrus is that more often than not–as Liam Hemsworth can attest–she's going to break your heart. Everything she does is always for Miley's gain, and while fans will view her IDGAF behavior as its own form of feminism, it's hard to look past the selfish nature of it all.
SHE IS COMING is destined to conquer the radio, but it also plays like a requiem for Cyrus' individuality. It seems that the "real" Miley will remain a mystery to everyone, including herself.
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