Amanda Palmer defends Miley Cyrus’ plan to be a “raging, naked, twerking sexpot”

Miley Cyrus may be too busy hosting SNL and doing Terry Richardson photoshoots to write an open letter to Sinead O’Connor. But Amanda Palmer isn’t.

The honourary Australian, who was just her for BIGSOUND and a run of live shows, has penned a 2000-plus word letter to O’Connor in support of Cyrus and her “current plan to be a raging, naked, twerking sexpot”. She wrote the letter while en route to Dallas, Texas, to perform at a benefit night for Girls Rock Dallas, a local group that “empowers young girls to become brave musicians”.

She started off by saying how much she loved O’Connor’s music and her “refusal to sign up to the bullshit beauty standard”:

“You were one of the few women rockstars that was clearly doing things her own way, and you inspired me to no end. I want to thank you for doing that. I listened to your stunning voice and your true, deep lyrics endlessly on my walkman, flipping the tape again, and again, then again, then again…and I know those ingredients still live and breathe inside me every time I write a song of my own. You shaped me.”

But Palmer disagreed with O’Connor’s assertion that Cyrus was being exploited for record company gain:

“She’s writing the plot and signing the checks, and although I think it’s tempting to imagine her in the board room of label assholes and management, I don’t think any of them masterminded her current plan to be a raging, naked, twerking sexpot. I think that’s All Miley All The Way. Now, would these men ARGUE with her when she comes into the room and throws down her treatment to hop up naked on the proverbial (and literal) wrecking ball? Of course not. Sex sells. We all know it. Miley knows it better than anyone: swinging naked on a big metal ball simply gets you more hits than swinging on a big metal ball wearing clothes.”

She said female artists are caught in a “Chinese finger trap”, where they’re either chastised for being sexy or scolded for not playing the game:

“Those who manage to find a perfect balance are rare, and the culture at large seems hellbent on undermining our ability to create that balance peacefully within ourselves. And weirdly, it’s generally women scolding other women … we’re our own worst enemies. Which is not to say there aren’t some mean motherfucking men out there. I faced my fair share of that sort when I was at a major label and told that I was too fat to wear a bra on stage for my Leeds United music video. I stood my ground and got my way, but that was the beginning of the end of my relationship with those dudes. (Funny, the irony here: I had to FIGHT my label to be half-naked in a video…)”

She says it’s about creating a “larger playing field” for female artists, where anything is possible:

“I want female musicians to feel like they can do MORE with their mad artistic energy, not LESS. I want women to feel less trapped inside their bodies, less afraid to express themselves, less afraid to be nailed to the cross of the cultural beauty standard. But that necessarily means there needs to be room on the vast playing field for Adele to wear a conservative suit, room for Lady Gaga to do naked performance art in the woods, room for PJ Harvey to wear high-collared 18th century jackets on stage, room for Natasha Kahn to pose boldly naked on the cover of her last record, and room for Miley to rip a page out of stripper culture and run around like a maniac for however long she wants to.”

O’Connor had warned Cyrus about the dangers of ending up on “the proverbial rag heap” if she bases her image around her sexuality, but Palmer disagreed:

“While it may be true that the live-fast-die-young sex-pot female pop stars are washed up and thrown on the ‘rag heap’, like you say, wouldn’t it be better if we changed the entire plot instead of dealing with it as it’s been handed to us? Keith Richards and Jagger go out there night after night and shake their asses and everyone oohs and aahs that they’ve managed to age and maintain their spot at the sexy table. Why shouldn’t this be true for women? Who says Miley can’t flip the script anytime she wants? I want to live in a world where Miley (or any female musician) can twerk wildly at 20, wear a full-cover floral hippie mumu at 37, show up at 47 in see-through latex, and pose semi-naked, like Keith & co, on the cover of rolling stone at 57 and be APPLAUDED for being so comfortable with her body.”

Ultimately, she says it’s about working together to create more freedom for female artists:

“I want to live in a world where WE as women determine what we wear and look like and play the game as our fancy leads us, army pants one minute and killer gown the next, where WE decide whether or not we’re going to play games with the male gaze and the starry-eyed hard-ons that can make men so easy to manipulate. But seriously, let’s all play the game together, with a wink and a nudge … so we don’t hurt each other. If men and women don’t have a constantly open dialogue about how we do and don’t (or should and shouldn’t) manipulate and play with each other, we all lose. We are all fragile humans with little time on this beautiful, sexually-charged, ecstatic planet. Let’s share it to the fullest extent that we can and make the playing field for all of us the size of the whole earth.”

Oh, and she also recommended a couple of Sinead O’Connor albums to her fans:

“For any of y’all curious to check out those wonderful Sinéad albums that provided my teenage soundtrack, the two big ones were I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got and The Lion and the Cobra.”