The mixed sexual messages of Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke

Miley Cyrus, Cherice Morales, and the Slane Girl share this: they are victims of a society that serves mixed messages about sexuality. Photo: Charles Sykes/Invision/AP Photos

LOS ANGELES, August 30, 2013 — Social media and the rest are still buzzing about 20-year old Miley Cyrus’ Sunday VMA performance. There is no need to rehash details or to link to the video as it has been talked, written, and commented about ad nauseum (including this article).

“Twerking” is now in the American English lexicon, teddy bears have been completely stripped of their innocence, and Robin Thicke, the son of one of America’s favorite ‘80s dads, sang a song about date rape while allowing a girl almost half his age to “rim” and “ratchet” him while performing obscene gestures with a Styrofoam finger.

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Some writers and commentators were outraged by the dancing, others by the sexuality and obvious misogyny. A few found racial degradation in Miley’s treatment of her dancers and the obvious co-opting of moves and mannerisms that are particularly embedded in Black Hip Hop culture.

But Miley wasn’t the only story about unchecked sexuality this week.

Three years ago, 49-year-old Montana teacher Stacey Dean Rambold raped 14-year old Cherice Morales, his student at Billings Senior High School. While trial and sentencing were being carried out, Cherice committed suicide just shy of her 17th birthday.

Judge G. Todd Baugh, in his infinite wisdom, gave the now 52-year old Rambold the deferred sentence of 30-days in prison. Baugh felt Rambold had already lost his job, marriage, and reputation, so he claims the sentence factored this into account. Judge Baugh went further, saying of the victim, she “seemed older than her chronological age”, and declared that Cherice was “as much in control of the situation” as the teacher.

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Lest we think America is the only Western society circling the drain, we need look no further than Slane, Ireland.

During an Eminem concert at Slane Castle, a 17-year old girl publicly performed oral sex on a male purported to be her boyfriend. In our 15-minute society, cell phone cameras were immediately trained on this, and the photos quickly uploaded to social media.

The Slane Girl” pictures and video went viral, and the girl was subjected to “slut shaming”. The girl, distraught over the incident and its subsequent aftermath, was then admitted to the hospital, and is claiming sexual assault.

More videos and photos have surfaced showing the girl kissing another person, and a particularly disturbing one of the girl surrounded by at least eight men, being pushed and verbally abused. Irish law enforcement are rightly investigating, and the videos, pictures, and social media accounts connected to the incident have been taken down.

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Miley Cyrus, Cherice Morales, and the Slane Girl all have this in common: they are trapped in a society that serves mixed messages to young girls and boys about sexuality.

These schizophrenic signals abound in our modern world. Sixteen year-olds can now get the morning after pill without parental consent; condoms are given out freely in most public schools; sexual education is being pushed on children of younger and younger age.

To be sexually curious is not only encouraged, but a supposed requirement of social acceptance. Until, in the case of the Slane Girl, you are publicly slapped with a Scarlet “S” and shamed for doing the very thing society encourages.

Another young artist, Taylor Swift, is held up as the sweetheart of her generation, with breakup songs that wring your heart, and a psychic connection to her majority Tween audience. Yet, her serial dating and break ups are now becoming music legend.

Swift is a perfectly marketed package of innocence on stage, but her personal life does not seem to match up. More mixed signals that merely serve to confuse a generation.

Then on the far end of the spectrum, there are those who still encourage not expressing your sexuality until you, or your parents, feel it is appropriate. At the 2008 VMAs, the band the Jonas Brothers, were the focus of host Russell Brand’s jokes because of their choice to wear purity rings. They found an unexpected ally in singer Jordin Sparks, who called Brand out on his tomfoolery: “I just have one thing to say about promise rings. It’s not bad to wear a promise ring because not everybody – guy or girl – wants to be a slut.” [emphasis mine]

So, if that is the case, then why are young boys and girls being pushed onto this path? Is not the point of a free society to offer options and choices, and to encourage our children to make wiser ones than we did?

From the looks of both Sparks’ and the Jonas Brothers’ life and career, their choices seem to be serving them well. No viral sex videos, tabloid articles, or drama to be found. The same cannot be said of those who take Miley Cyrus’ route.

Amanda Bynes and Britney Spears, two of Miley’s Disney alumnae, are the current poster children for this.

So why does Miley Cyrus feel the need to break from her squeaky-clean Disney “Hannah Montana” image and become a caricature of a sex-crazed banshee? Why are youth not given the choice to maintain as long as they wish, and build emotional maturity first, before attempting explorations that still have such heavy emotional and societal fallout?

In terms of that fallout, more often than not it rains down hard on the female side.

No one is talking about “The Slane Boys”—the man/men who were complicit in that cruel act. Very few are calling Robin Thicke on the carpet for co-signing a younger artist’s corruption.

Judge Baugh surmised Stacey Dean Rambold had suffered enough; yet had no consideration for Cherise Morales, the one whose life was so destroyed by Rambold’s actions that she chose to end it.

These mixed messages appear to create victims on one side, and morally bankrupt individuals on the other. It’s time to clear the airwaves.

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Jennifer Oliver O'Connell

Jennifer Oliver O’Connell is the "In My Orbit" columnist for Washington Times Communities, writes on Los Angeles Faith and Community for, teaches Yoga, and coaches on careers and reinvention.

You can keep up with what's in Jennifer's orbit through her As the Girl Turns website: (

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