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Image / Editorial

‘She CAN’T be grabbed’: Miley Cyrus’ message on consent is important


by Jennifer McShane
06th Jun 2019
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Even in our post-#MeToo world, actress and singer Miley Cyrus is still having to push back on internet trolls who says she “asked” to be groped by a stranger on the basis of her appearance. #TimesUp or not, we still have a long way to go, says Jennifer McShane 


There’s no doubting the ripple effect the #MeToo movement has had. We are shouting, stomping, protesting in droves – staying silent and saying nothing are no longer options. However, it has gone quieter. Harvey Weinstein’s once much-covered trial as he faces charges of alleged sexual assault of up to 75 women barely gets column inches these days. He’s offering a reduced settlement to his victims – it was once much larger – and now the coverage tends to centre around how his lawyers remain “optimistic” of the outcome of the proceedings due to take place in New York this month.

His victims are continuing the fight, determined to see justice and yet it still seems, despite some progress, we’re saying the same things.

Still explaining consent.

Still having to justify wearing whatever the hell we want.

Still #NotAskingForIt.

Miley Cyrus recently made the headlines for doing just this. In footage shared online, the man is seen grabbing her by the hair before taking her around the neck with his arm and then kissing her on the cheek.

Cyrus commented on Twitter that the man grabbed her without her consent, and after receiving abuse online following the incident, said she needed to speak out.

“She can be wearing what she wants. She can be a virgin. She can be sleeping with 5 different people.

“She can be with her husband. She can be with her girlfriend. She can be naked.

“She CAN’T be grabbed without her consent.”

The fact that she shared the message is important – because she still felt it had to be said. Even now, after we’ve come forward many bounds.

Victim-blaming is still apparent, judging from only some of the comments she received.

Back to basics?

Shouldn’t we be past this now? Past the explaining. Past the shaming. So, why does it feel that we always take a step back to basics?

Does it matter that it “could have been much worse” as another interjected? Or that she wore “next to nothing” in the Wrecking Ball music video?

There is a danger that we are becoming de-sensitised to the varying instances of what constitutes harassment.

Cyrus felt harrassed; felt as if she’d been groped because it happened out of the blue – without her consent.

Related: Emilie Pine: In a post-#MeToo world speaking up still isn’t easy 

Her feelings are valid. Is it exactly the same as an assault of a more serious nature? No, because harrassment and assault are two different things – an important distinction.

However, what is equally important in this instance is that she is entitled to feel as she did – despite it varying in its severity (according to the critics) – without backlash and judgement.

The fact that some news outlets decided to “look into” whether or not “you could deem that as being groped” is deeply concerning.

And it is a sign that tangible progress in our post-#MeToo world really does have a long way to go yet.

Main photograph: @MileyCyrus

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