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Image / Editorial

The online reaction to the Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth split is telling


by Jennifer McShane
12th Aug 2019
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With the announcement that newly-married couple Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth have decided to separate, the online reaction, which largely points the finger at Cyrus, reveals that post-#MeToo or not, sexism is still apparent – and as ever, women are quick to take the fallout in the most negative light  


A representative for Cyrus confirmed toPeople on August 10 that the pair have called off their marriage just eight months after tying the knot in an intimate ceremony at their home this past December.

“Liam and Miley have agreed to separate at this time,” the rep said. “Ever-evolving, changing as partners and individuals, they have decided this is what’s best while they both focus on themselves and careers. They still remain dedicated parents to all of their animals they share while lovingly taking this time apart. Please respect their process and privacy.”

We invest a lot in celebrity couples. When two movie stars meet and fall in love on a film set as they did – filming The Last Song in 2009 – we root for them and the fairytale. The on-again-off-again couple had seemed an opposites attract kind of match with Cyrus the more openly exuberant to Hemsworth’s private demeanour – you might not have placed them together and so it was endearing.

The couple first separated around Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball era and even then, the press very much sided towards Cyrus being out of Hemsworth’s league. She was too sexual, too brazen – not good enough was what many trolls tweeted. “What happened to her? She used to be Hemsworth’s type,” said one commentator in a particularly vicious series of YouTube comments.

Sympathy was directed at Hemsworth with Cyrus was criticised for openly speaking of her bisexuality and shunning societal expectations; a good portion of fans preferred the “old” Miley, one who came from Disney beginnings and sang sweeter, less explicit songs.  But Cyrus didn’t take to being repressed, openly firing back at those who told her to play withing a confined set of rules, usually specifically reserved for female popstars.

And as it was then, so it is in 2019.

She turned an Instagram post into a public statement, of sorts, alluding to the split.

“Don’t fight evolution, because you will never win,” she captioned a pair of photos of herself posing atop a peak in the Dolomites, a mountain range in Italy.

Sexist commentary 

Commentary is again sexist in nature. The fault, they say, must be with Cyrus.

“I hope he ends up with a more balanced human being as partner, instead of this selfish little girl he chose,” says one comment under an article of their split. “We all can’t have what we want, I guess he hoped things would work the way he expected, but she was never really in it for the long run. Whatever gender she chooses to be with is not the issue here, it is how easily you devalued the sanctity of marriage.”

“Miley needs to be single and she needs therapy. She clearly has no idea who she is. And that’s cute and fine at 21 but she should have figured it out before she got married…It just magnifies whatever issues were already present. I hope she figures out who she is and what she wants before committing again. I have a feeling that Liam will be married with a kid within 18 months,” wrote another.

“It does not sound like she was ever very comfortable with being married or a formal, committed relationship. The constant reframing it makes her sound immature,” chimed another.

There’s no mention of Hemsworth or any of his “behaviour” throughout the comments, instead with the lot on Cyrus – almost shaming her for speaking out as she has done about the traditional constraints marriage can have on a couple.

Hemsworth meanwhile gets the “devastated” article treatment as he mourns the loss of their relationship “visibly downtrodden” while she jets off on holiday. The implication again that she opts for a self-absorbed narrative, devoid of the sentiment feelings of Hemsworth.   

It’s a tale as old as time with the blame shifted towards the woman. The man gets the sympathy card while Cyrus is manipulative, constantly changing the narrative to suit herself; the one who knew it was coming and should have spared his feelings.

There’s little about the main takeaway from the limited perception of their parting – that it takes bravery to walk away from a relationship that supposedly ticks all the boxes on paper and go the route that feels right for you.

Main photograph:@bixakordei

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