Liz N. Clift

Liz N. Clift is a writer and blogger living in the American west. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in, Tulane Review, RATTLE, The MacGuffin, WomenArts Quarterly Journal, and others. She is also a contributor to The Nervous Breakdown. Follow her on Twitter: @NWBorealiz, or find her online at

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Miley Cyrus, “Wrecking Ball,” and Intimate Partner Violence

After Miley Cyrus’ VMA performance, people were all about slut-shaming her (not much was said about Robin Thicke’s participation). The mainstream media appeared scandalized by her performance – a young woman exhibiting sexuality? *Gasp!*

Richard Cohen, of the Washington Post, seemed particularly appalled – at least once he looked up the word twerk. He thought Cyrus should probably read a New Yorker article about the Stubenville rape (“so-called rape,” by Cohen’s definition). The immediate implication was that a woman dancing like Cyrus danced in the VMAs was asking for rape (or, presumably, other forms of violence).

Now, Cyrus has released a video, “Wrecking Ball” that features her licking demolition tools (absolutely no phallic overtones there, nope, none) and, eventually, shedding her clothes to swing naked on a wrecking ball. The message, according to a blogger at The Guardian is that women need to be sexually available. Fox News took issue with the music video director (and posted several sexy stills of Cyrus) and his “checkered past.” And, Time took the opportunity to provide a short history (and metaphor) of the wrecking ball.

Cyrus is destroying and destroyed, according to the lyrics of the song, and the metaphor of the wrecking ball.

But what I find most disturbing about this song is that this song can be a metaphor for an abusive relationship — intimate partner violence, or IPV, is the current broad umbrella term for this. Take the lyrics:

“I came in like a ...

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