Syria or Cyrus?

I know I posted today already. The muse seems to ebb and flow without notice. My apologies.

We had a discussion this morning — one that's disturbed me greatly.

People are raging on Miley. Slowly (but a bit too slowly as my sister aptly pointed out), people are raging on Robin Thicke. 

But in the words of a reply comment I received: 

"Erin, women should be able to express their sexuality however they want to–walk around in the nude, even–and not be punished for it with exploitation and rape. Miley Cyrus is 20 years old. She is an adult. Blaming performances like hers for child exploitation is ridiculous. Blaming sex trafficking of women on the sexualization of women and girls in the media is like blaming rape on women who dress "slutty." It's just not true, and no progress is made when those beliefs are followed." (CJ, August 27th 2013)

Some context: the comment was made in response to a discussion board about people needing to focus MORE on Syria and LESS on Miley Cyrus. The reality that we haven't stands as a sharp accusation to our poor priorities. The commentor wanted me to see that I was err-ing by believing that attention to both was required. She disagreed for reasons stated above.

My response.


"Be careful here."

Yes, when we use Hollywood drivel to energize our ignorance of international crises we have some serious re-prioritizing to do. However, my sense was that the VMA performance was indicitive of deeper, more serious issues related to child exploitation, child sexualization, sexual consent (or non-consent), and our cultural demand for these things. When seen through this valid lens, Cyrus' performance takes on a more sinister tone.


3,000,000 children suffering in Syria… chemical warfare threatening their very existence… this brings me to a halt. And I.can't.move.

Absolutely, unequivocally attention is needed. And needed NOW.

But how do we balance?

I responded to to CJ with my perception that we need to attend to both domestic and international circumstances. To use one to eclipse the other will lead to humanitarian failure. 

I wrote in Burnt Out on Outrage that sometimes there are SO MANY THINGS in this world that pull at our hearts, our minds, and our souls that we burn out… break down… become paralyzed. 

When this paralysis sets it, we are in danger of doing nothing for anyone or anything. Our minds draw blanks, we feel pulled in 1000 different ways, and we argue about whose lives are more important than anothers.

Deep… breath…

1) There are many people here who are working to change cultural perceptions around sexuality; the shock value of Cyrus' AND Thicke's performance struck some deep raw nerves needing attention — and deservedly so. (When it's simply Entertainment Tonight fodder, I agree… drop it.)

2) There are groups on the ground now in Syria trying to restore families/create families with the children in need (Check out SOS Villages Syria). Children are displaced and dying — and this CERTAINLY needs our attention. (I might point out, however, that the civil war has been going on for over 2 years and it wasn't until this week that suddenly Syria has gone viral again. Where were we 6 months ago? 1 year ago? 2 years ago?)

These are important points… and important questions.

And there are NO easy answers.

But we can choose elevating discussions… and loving responses. 

We will not all agree. We will argue at times.

And we will need to know when to drop the Miley Cyrus event in order to deal with the deeper issues it represented, just as we will need to know when and how best to serve Syria over the long term.

It's not an either/or question, for me.

It's both/and.

But the outrage fatigue then sits at my door, waiting to burn me out.

How do we choose to share life with ALL people in this world?

1. The first thing I can think of: be careful in judging other people's responses. When comments (such as the one above), outrage fatigue becomes focused on the our petty squabbles and then ALL people needing help suffer.

First tentative step: save our outrage for the deeper issues at hand, and be generous in our love for the people offering differing viewpoints around the table.

2. When we take action, let it be holistic. I'm not going to have the ideas or gifts that the person across from me will have and vice versa.

Let's use this the world's advantage.

Let's not argue.

And let's keep outrage fatigue at bay, especially when it's used only to squabble with each other.


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