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Unpublished Paper
White Female Exceptionalism: The Case of Miley Cyrus
2015 PCA/ACA National Conference (2015)
  • Tomaro I. Taylor
Within the social construction of race, Whiteness is loosely defined by what it is not; it exists, primarily, as a marker of inclusion and exclusion that reinforces the creation of racial meanings and their explicit socio-cultural negotiation. By moving away from certain, traditional ideologies, it is possible to consider race and racial identity within the negotiation, perception and projection of gendered racial exceptionalism. Gendered racial exceptionalism can allow White women to embrace and embody “The Other” without denying their own Whiteness or suggesting internationalization of non-White cultural or ethnic markers. This variability is often demonstrated in popular culture and is exemplified through performances that rely on exaggerated interpretations of both White and non-White cultural signs. In “We Can’t Stop” and “Wrecking Ball,” Miley Cyrus demonstrates that coupling gendered racial exceptionalism with the cultural appropriation and fetishization of non-White ethnic and cultural markers creates a safe and acceptable space where White females shift between ethnic and non-ethnic representations of race and racial identity to effectively create and express their own identities as White women. This reification of “Whiteness” is explored by proposing that White female bodies move through a performative space where images of the self and The Other are neutralized. Within this space, White women thereby construct a brand of Whiteness that exists as a result of their interpretation of cultural signs.

This paper contributes to the continuing discourse of gender and media by expanding consideration of the relationships between female performances and the construction of race and racial identity.
  • Miley Cyrus,
  • Popular culture,
  • White privilege,
  • Appropriation,
  • Gender studies,
  • Media studies
Publication Date
April, 2015
Citation Information
Tomaro I. Taylor. "White Female Exceptionalism: The Case of Miley Cyrus" 2015 PCA/ACA National Conference (2015)
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