Thursday, October 03, 2013

Sinead O'Connor - Open Letter to Miley Cyrus UPDATED

Sinéad might be a little off the wall by times, but even a stopped clock tells the right time twice a day...

This is the letter, as published on Sinéad O'Connor's website yesterday, in response to Miley Cyrus citing Sinéad as something of a role-model (or certainly that the video for 'Nothing Compares 2 U' was an influence on her own video for 'Wrecking Ball') in a recent interview with Rolling Stone magazine.  The website is currently down, but the good folk of the internet have preserved the letter for posterity - read it in full (and as typed) below.


"Dear Miley,

I wasn’t going to write this letter, but today i’ve been dodging phone calls from various newspapers who wished me to remark upon your having said in Rolling Stone your Wrecking Ball video was designed to be similar to the one for Nothing Compares… So this is what I need to say… And it is said in the spirit of motherliness and with love.

I am extremely concerned for you that those around you have led you to believe, or encouraged you in your own belief, that it is in any way ‘cool’ to be naked and licking sledgehammers in your videos. It is in fact the case that you will obscure your talent by allowing yourself to be pimped, whether its the music business or yourself doing the pimping.

Nothing but harm will come in the long run, from allowing yourself to be exploited, and it is absolutely NOT in ANY way an empowerment of yourself or any other young women, for you to send across the message that you are to be valued (even by you) more for your sexual appeal than your obvious talent.
I am happy to hear I am somewhat of a role model for you and I hope that because of that you will pay close attention to what I am telling you.

The music business doesn’t give a sh*t about you, or any of us. They will prostitute you for all you are worth, and cleverly make you think its what YOU wanted.. and when you end up in rehab as a result of being prostituted, ‘they’ will be sunning themselves on their yachts in Antigua, which they bought by selling your body and you will find yourself very alone.

None of the men oggling you give a sh*t about you either, do not be fooled. Many’s the woman mistook lust for love. If they want you sexually that doesn’t mean they give a f*ck about you. All the more true when you unwittingly give the impression you don’t give much of a f*ck about yourself. And when you employ people who give the impression they don’t give much of a f*ck about you either. No one who cares about you could support your being pimped.. and that includes you yourself.

Yes, I’m suggesting you don’t care for yourself. That has to change. You ought be protected as a precious young lady by anyone in your employ and anyone around you, including you. This is a dangerous world. We don’t encourage our daughters to walk around naked in it because it makes them pray for animals and less than animals (a distressing majority of whom work in the music industry and the associated media).
You are worth more than your body or your sexual appeal. The world of showbiz doesn’t see things that way, they like things to be seen the other way, whether they are magazines who want you on their cover, or whatever.. Don’t be under any illusions.. ALL of them want you because they’re making money off your youth and your beauty.. which they could not do except for the fact your youth makes you blind to the evils of show business. If you have an innocent heart you can’t recognise those who do not.

I repeat, you have enough talent that you don’t need to let the music business make a prostitute of you. You shouldn’t let them make a fool of you either. Don’t think for a moment that any of them give a flying f*ck about you. They’re there for the money.. we’re there for the music. It has always been that way and it will always be that way. The sooner a young lady gets to know that, the sooner she can be REALLY in control.
You also said in Rolling Stone that your look is based on mine. The look I chose, I chose on purpose at a time when my record company were encouraging me to do what you have done. I felt I would rather be judged on my talent and not my looks. I am happy that I made that choice, not least because I do not find myself on the proverbial rag heap now that I am almost 47 yrs of age.. which unfortunately many female artists who have based their image around their sexuality, end up on when they reach middle age.

Real empowerment of yourself as a woman would be to in future refuse to exploit your body or your sexuality in order for men to make money from you. I needn’t even ask the question.. I’ve been in the business long enough to know that men are making more money than you are from you getting naked. Its really not at all cool. And its sending dangerous signals to other young women. Please in future say no when you are asked to prostitute yourself. Your body is for you and your boyfriend. It isn’t for every spunk-spewing dirtbag on the net, or every greedy record company executive to buy his mistresses diamonds with.
As for the shedding of the Hannah Montana image.. whoever is telling you getting naked is the way to do that does absolutely NOT respect your talent, or you as a young lady. Your records are good enough for you not to need any shedding of Hannah Montana. She’s waaaaaaay gone by now.. Not because you got naked but because you make great records.

Whether we like it or not, us females in the industry are role models and as such we have to be extremely careful what messages we send to other women. The message you keep sending is that its somehow cool to be prostituted.. its so not cool Miley.. its dangerous. Women are to be valued for so much more than their sexuality. we aren’t merely objects of desire. I would be encouraging you to send healthier messages to your peers.. that they and you are worth more than what is currently going on in your career. Kindly fire any motherf*cker who hasn’t expressed alarm, because they don’t care about you."


I certainly agree with Sinéad's premise - that the music industry truly does not care about young women in its employ...or the women who consume their products.  I have written about this previously in a speech on feminism back in 2007, which hasn't aged particularly well but some parts bear some repeating: "...a feminist should be [...] an agent of social change. We must change the culture of acceptance around sexism and discrimination"; and my big closer, "Mary Wollstonecraft said that she did not wish women to have power over men, but over themselves."

Miley would certainly do well to remember Mary Wollstonecraft, and to listen to some of Sinéad's words.


UPDATE:  Miley has responded, and Sinéad has fought back...this could get ugly!

Miley did not take any of Sinéad's well-meant, though probably unnecessary, advice, and has instead attacked Sinéad's mental health issues.  Bad move, Miley!  The tweet avalanche that Miley unleashed on Sinéad - from comparing her to Amanda Bynes (mockingly) to re-tweeting old tweets of Sinéad's in which she had a breakdown online, asking for help - is shown below.

Before Amanda Bynes.... There was....

Sinéad has responded as below (in three separate letters) - which I have to say, I do (at least partially) agree with.  Miley has shown herself to be absolutely her age, with all of its foolishness, without the maturity that I had thought I had glimpsed in her candid Rolling Stone interview, where she discussed the double standard under which women in the music industry operate in terms of sexual expression.  In this world where online communication seems to be the mode of address, can we blame Sinéad for her initial open letter?  Miley had cited Sinéad as an influence, hence she had brought Sinéad into the conversation - Sinéad had every right to respond.  And was her letter really that bad?  I know that slut-shaming is an argument brought up in regards to Sinéad's words, and certainly I don't completely agree with everything she had said, but I think her bottom line is that the music industry does not care about you, and wants you to do as much as possible to get on the front page of every paper...without caring about your mental well-being.  Miley would do well to listen to someone who she has admired, and who has had her own struggles with mental health, and who has certainly had her fair share of dealings with the industry herself.

Sinéad's first response is understandably vitriolic, and I doubt very much whether this is the end of the conversation between Sinéad and Miley.  But in this instance, I think I'm planting myself in the 'Team Sinéad' corner.  Perhaps it's national pride, or perhaps it's just that I grew up listening to Sinéad's haunting tones, or even that Sinéad's head-shaving had a huge influence on my idea of femininity and how you can separate it from the presented ideal, or her openness in dealing with mental health issues...or perhaps it's just that, in this instance, I believe that Miley's response was absolutely wrong.


Miley… Really? Who the fuck is advising you? Because taking me on is even more fuckin’ stupid than behaving like a prostitute and calling it feminism. You have posted today tweets of mine which are two years old, which were posted by me when I was unwell and seeking help so as to make them look like they are recent. In doing so you mock myself and Amanda Bynes for having suffered with mental health issues and for having sought help.

I mean really really… who advises you? have you any idea how stupid and dangerous it is to mock people for suffering illness? You will yourself one day suffer such illness, that is without doubt. The course you have set yourself upon can only end in that, trust me.

I am staggered that any 20 yr old woman of the 21st century could behave in such a dangerous and irresponsible manner as to not only send the signal to young women that its ok to act like prostitutes but also to the signal that those who have suffered or do suffer mental health problems are to be mocked and have their opinions invalidated. Have you no sense of danger at all? or responsibility? Remove your tweets immediately or you will hear from my lawyers. I am certain you will be hearing from all manner of mental health advocacy groups also. It is not acceptable to mock any person for having suffered.
It is most unbecoming of you to respond in such a fashion to someone who expressed care for you. And worse that you are such an anti-female tool of the anti-female music industry. I hope that you will apologise to Amanda Bynes and to any person who has been wounded by your mockery of those who have suffered. And I hope that you will wake up and understand that you in fact are a danger to women.

Furthermore you posted a photo of me tearing the pope’s photo .. as if to imply insanity.. by doing so all you have achieved is to expose your staggering ignorance. I suggest you read The Philadelphia Report, The Boston Report, all the reports which will illuminate for you why that action of mine remains sane and valid. By mocking it you mock every child who suffered sexual abuse at the hands of priests and had it covered by the Vatican. You could really do with educating yourself, that is if you’re not too busy getting your tits out to read.


I have no interest whatsoever in meeting you. You had plenty of time yesterday to abuse Amanda Bynes .. an entirely innocent party.. and myself.. who also did nothing to deserve your abuse.. along with every other sufferer of mental health problems and every person who suffered abuse at the hands of priests.
You can take five minutes today between g- string fuckin' changes to publicly apologise and remove your abusive tweets. If you do not then you don't give a shit who you mock and what damage you do by being so ignorant.

When you publicly apologise to Amanda and myself and all mental health sufferers as well as all who were abused by priests that will end the matter as far as I am concerned.
What you did yesterday was designed to damage me and my career and has caused me enormous distress and harrassment and has potential to damage my career. If you do not apologise I will have no choice but to bring legal proceedings against you.

I have no interest in or desire to cause you trouble but if you do not apologise for having deliberately tried to cause me hurt and trouble personally and professionally I will have to bring pressure upon you.
When you end up in the psych ward or rehab I'll be happy to visit you.. and would not lower myself to mock you.

Be a proper woman and make the public apologies I have listed above. Your hosting SNL is a bullshit reason for not taking five minutes to do the right thing and your behaviour yesterday will rebound upon you very badly.

You have no business abusing Amanda Bynes or anyone else. How do you think you made her feel yesterday? How do you feel when your friend Britney Spears is mocked and humiliated for having had mental health problems? I know I personally want to bash those who treat her that way. If she is your friend and more importantly if you are a true friend to her.. you ought apologise for joining those who mock and humiliate women who have been too nice frankly, to manage the music business without sensibly losing their minds.

Cease behaving in an anti-female capacity. You will become the victim of it shortly. Soon it will be you the media 'crazy' .. and you will not enjoy it.. and you will appreciate people (like myself) standing up for you. Which I will be happy to do.. if you earn my respect today by apologising publicly.

Ms Cyrus has today posted tweets of mine which are two years old and which were sent when I was ill and seeking medical help. She has done this in an attempt to deliberately cause me harm and hurt. I wish to confirm that I am quite well and kindly request people cease e mailing me in the mistaken belief these are recent tweets.

Ms Cyrus' lawyers will be contacted by mine regarding this matter.

I confirm also that I do not at all support or condone the abuse or mockery of those who have been brave enough to openly discuss mental health issues. Mockery causes deaths. Period. It is an unacceptable form of bullying, no matter who it is doing the bullying.


I think her 'tits' sign-off could do with work, as I don't believe attacking Miley's choices was the point of the initial missive, but I can certainly understand her anger.  This will play and play, and will be cited as still further proof that women don't support women.  I'm sorry that it has descended into name-calling and anger, but the initial thought did seem to be one of support and help - it's just that Miley didn't accept it as that.  Sinéad has every right to respond to Miley's anger, and I most definitely support the idea that mocking mental health issues damages everyone.  Your move, Miley.

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