Recently, I was fortunate enough to attend a concert on Pink’s “The Truth About Love” world tour.
For a few years now, listening to Pink has been my “guilty pleasure.” I never really wanted to admit that I loved her, because my musical tastes are not usually so mainstream.
But, I’ve come to really enjoy her music, and respect her for breaking the pop-star cookie-cutter mold. Her songs make powerful statements about hot-button issues like politics and celebrity culture.
Pink is well-known for the unbelievable aerial acrobatics she performs during her concerts. So when I found out she was doing a show in my town, I knew I had to go.
Yes, the concert was amazing, but during it I also found myself thinking about the sexualization of pop performers. I couldn’t help but compare the performance to Miley Cyrus.
I don’t know about you, but I reached Cyrus twerk overload about a hundred articles ago. I really don’t want to devote more pixels to dissecting that particular situation.
But something was bugging me about how these two performers seem to have similarities, yet Pink’s brand of pop garners so much more respect.
Like Cyrus, Pink also wears a variety of scanty costumes and sings about sexual themes. She also dances, flies on a high wire out above the audience, gyrates, and somehow manages to stay singing in tune throughout it all.
So how is Pink’s sexualization different from Cyrus’s?
Well, I think there is a fine, but definite, line. Pink is clearly in control of her sexuality: physically strong, confident, talented, and daring.
Pink’s costuming is more akin to a gymnast’s necessity for form-fitting clothing. In contrast, Cyrus’s costume, especially in contrast with the three-piece suit of co-performer Robin Thicke, seems to have a more submissively sexual purpose.
It’s a subtle distinction, but an important one.
About Miley Cyrus, Gloria Steinem said: “I think that we need to change the culture, not blame the people that are playing the only game that exists.”
Yet somehow, Pink manages not only to play the game, but also to control it on her own terms.
What do you think about the sexuality of these two performers?
Tessa Needham finished her PhD in Performing Arts at the University of Western Sydney (Australia) in 2008. Her thesis explored the potential of performance to provoke change, and part of her research was Bodily, a solo theatrical performance about body image. She loves technology and the creative arts, and is passionate about the different cultural forces affecting the body image of girls and women. She teaches computers and does freelance creative work: www.tessaneedham.com.
I do love Pink. But as for the sexuality of both performers I still do not like it as a women. To me sexuality is a private & sacred thing. Men do not need to be tantalized anymore than they are these days. It’s like waving a piece of meat in front of a dog (not that men are dogs) but you get what I mean! I just think this kind of behavior teaches men to disrespect us! As for the musical talent of the ladies they are talented of course! I just don’t agree with especially how Miley is taking her career. I pray for her.
Seems like the difference here is that P!nk has continually sought to define herself by her rules and has always owned her sexuality, whereas Miley seems to have recently adopted the pose of “sexually liberated” woman. But that doesn’t mean being sexually provocative at any possible occasion. I fully support a woman’s right to be as sexually explicit as she wants in her dress, talk, look, or behavior… but hope that it isn’t driven by outside forces telling her its about power, when in fact, its about someone else’s monetary gain.
Thanks for your comment, Esther. I’m interested in the notion of this behaviour teaching men to disrespect us. Perhaps there is a fine line between expression and exploitation?
Thanks for your comment. You’re right, it could be because Cyrus has only recently adopted this behaviour. I think ti’s problematic that we don’t know what force is driving her decisions. Perhaps it is just her? Or perhaps there are advisors telling her what to do? And what about with Pink? Perhaps we’ll never know.