Bette Midler Slut Shames Ariana Grande In an Insulting & Condescending Way — UPDATE

Update: Ariana Grande has responded to Bette Midler's statement by tweeting, "All love here" along with a photo of Midler and the words, "Bette was always a feminist who stood for women being able to do whatever the F they wanted without judgement! Not sure where that Bette went but I want that sexy mermaid back!!! Always a fan no matter what my love."

I'm getting really tired of throwing the phrase slut shaming around, so it would make me really happy if the world would make a collective decision to stop doing it. All was quiet on that front after the "scandal" that was Kim Kardashian's Paper magazine cover died down, but now we have a new case to contend with that, for me personally, kind of comes out of left field. Not the subject of it, of course, being that she's such a notable public figure right now, but the perpetrator. In a recent interview, Bette Midler slammed Ariana Grande for "whoring herself out," and it was every bit as ridiculous as it sounds.

The interview was published in The Telegraph on Monday and, apparently, the question was in regards to the "pornification of pop music." In that sense, I suppose we can give Midler a point in her column that she doesn't seem to have anything against Grande specifically; in fact, she just seems to consider her the face of pop music, or at least the first face that she thinks of, which I guess is a weird sort of compliment. However, that's the only bright side to Midler's words, as she went on to say:

It’s terrible! It’s always surprising to see someone like Ariana Grande with that silly high voice, a very wholesome voice, slithering around on a couch, looking so ridiculous. I mean, it’s silly beyond belief and I don’t know who’s telling her to do it. I wish they’d stop. But it’s not my business, I’m not her mother. Or her manager. Maybe they tell them that’s what you’ve got to do. Sex sells. Sex has always sold.
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Because the idea of a 21-year-old woman making the decision on her own to dress however she wants and do whatever she wants is completely ridiculous. Grande has no agency at all; she's just a sexy, slithering automatic pop machine. I hope you can hear the sheer force and volume of my sarcasm right now. Listen, it's not as though Midler doesn't have a point buried in there. It's a disappointing but true fact that sex does sell in our society; look no further than Miley Cyrus who has never been more popular or more famous than when she stripped down and twerked on Robin Thicke at the 2013 MTV VMAs. I'm sure young pop stars get told all the time to use their sexuality to get people talking.

However, implying that Grande's "wholesome voice" means that she can't "slither around on a couch" if she wants to is ridiculous; it's slut shaming and it's just plain wrong. The pop star said herself in an interview that the person she had to be in order to play a wholesome character like Cat Valentine on Nickelodeon wasn't the person she wanted to be; that she has been waiting to launch her sultry R&B career since she was just this side of too young to launch a sultry R&B career. It seems like, for the first time in her life, Grande is being who she has always wanted to be and tearing her down by giving her, and other aspiring singers, patronizing advice like "You don't have to make a whore out of yourself to get ahead" is beyond unnecessary.

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Ultimately, Grande is the worst pop star that Midler could possibly have used in order to make her point. I can see that she probably meant something along the lines that it should be a woman's choice to wield her sexuality, not to feel pressured to do it by society or by a manager, but that message gets kind of muddled in her calling a perfectly respectable singer out for her life choices while simultaneously implying that Grande can't make up her own mind about her career. Mentioning Grande in this interview at all was unwarranted, but she is — or at least she has already spoken out as being — the antithesis of what Midler is describing.

Stars like Demi Lovato, who struggled with an eating disorder to fit a mold during her time on the Disney Channel, or like Ke$ha, who is currently embroiled in a legal battle against producer Dr. Luke for emotional (and sexual) abuse, are good examples of ones who found themselves backed into a corner of living up to other people's expectations at one point or another in their career — as well as good examples of trying to overcome that to become who they want to be. Grande is one of the biggest stars in the world right now not because she can't make her own decisions, but because she's finally reached a point where she can. Leave the slut shaming at the door, please and thank you.

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