In a week where we were bombarded by endless talk of the Miley Cyrus VMA performance, which in turn created an online spewing of slut-shaming, victim-blaming, thinly veiled woman-hating and blatant internalized misogyny, I sat here wondering “Why are we so focused on her and what her performance means to girls and women?” while I watched the Rape Culture Representative, Robin Thicke, dry hump Cyrus from behind. I wondered if I was the only one crying because we live in a culture that wants to watch a man like him perform on a widely broadcast award show, a culture that awards him with record-breaking sales of his Blurred Lines album yet tears Miley Cyrus apart for being too sexual on stage.
Then I remember that there is still a chance for things to turn around when we have people like Dylan Garity creating beautiful poetry which demonstrates that even in this culture, which idolizes men who objectify women, that there is hope. His words challenge patriarchal norms, which is particularly rare to hear come from the mouth of a man.
The slam poetry piece, Friendzone, confronts the sense of entitlement held by so many men, “… as if the reason to be a good friend or a decent fucking human is if you get something in exchange.” In the performance, Dylan Garity confronts his own past sense of entitlement over a female friend, and his realization of what kind of person this could have turned him into if he did not confront himself. “When I started thinking of myself as a savior, I started thinking of myself as a savior with a salary”.
The same mentality that leads a man to feel entitled to the affections of his female friend is the same mentality that can morph into something even more ugly if it is not kept in check. Garity’s poem crescendos with a beautifully blunt message, and I urge everyone to watch and listen to his amazing performance. If people like Dylan Garity became the main attraction on shows like the VMAs, I might actually start watching TV again. Thank you, Dylan Garity, for your fantastic art and for your courage in challenging the norms in our patriarchal culture.
*on another note: there has been seemingly endless discussion around the sexual aspects of the Miley Cyrus VMA spectacle, but the race and racist aspects are under-whelmingly represented in mainstream discourse. I challenge you to read more about the racial implications.*