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An Open Letter to Open Letters to Open Blouses on Miley Cyrus et al

Dear Open Letters to Open Blouses and Open Legs, ampoule
lol no

First and most urgently: have you never considered the postal service? People love getting mail. Not only is a personal note so uncommon as to be thrilling, decease it tends to be read more carefully by its addressee than, stuff say, a self-important screed on the Internet. I mean. For the love of nork. If you care to make a genuine appeal to a naked individual, here’s an idea: why not do it individually?  Unless your author is Zola, your point is, say, something like systematised anti-Semitism and your intended recipient is the President of France, you should probably just shut it. Je-a-fucking-ccuse.

Second, please think carefully for a moment about seppuku. That is: do kill yourself quickly and make room in the world for more essays.  Do not press your faux-concern for Miley Cyrus, Sinead O’Connor, Amanda Palmer’s well-documented breasts, sledgehammers and other tools of demolition into the service of sly editorial.  Instead, familiarise yourself with the rules of informal logic and try to make a compelling point like a grown-up who has read some books. Books selected from a shelf marked with a section title that is not Personal Development or Inspirational Memoirs by Women.

Oh. And, if possible, please try to avoid using made-up terms like “women-times”.  In her recent open letter to an open letter, entertainer Amanda Palmer employs this odd hyphenate to describe (presumably) the social and cultural conditions for contemporary woman.  But, you know, it just sounds a bit like periods and that isn’t classy.  “Women-times”? Pish. When De Profundis was written from Reading Gaol, it did not talk to Boise of “men-times”.  If you’re not Oscar Wilde and you haven’t been sodomised by Lord Alfred Douglas, you should probably shut it.


Veganism is rife among today’s young female performers who are desperate to consume iron in any way they can.

Third, you might pay heed to the gendered division of literary labour you have come to reproduce.  Which is to say, you are nearly always written by women, to women about “women-times”.  Now, you and I both know that epistolary is a low literary form. Given this and your ardent interest in manifestations of  patriarchy—or “women-times” if you will—you should probably choose a mode of expression less vulgar than the cheap and scanty open letter.  Frankly, the open letter makes you look like a piece of bulk-buy skirt steak and if you continue to parade your ideas about in it, you can only expect that people will try to violate your easy arguments.  (Yes, Open Letter.  I am slut-shaming your structure.)

Finally.  And on a personal note.  I could not give less of a shit for this current raft of correspondence which seems to be arguing for and against the fact of Cyrus’ volition in the matter of brief or absent outfits.  Look.  Whether the singer is a willing or unwilling object for exchange in the pop marketplace is a stinking question that bears as much relevance to “women-times” as washed-rind cheese. Yes, the visual economy has images of women as its chief means of trade and, yes, the value of these images is determined according to a one-size-fits-most mass ideal of perfection.  So fucking what?  Either jam the gears of this system of exchange with clever tactics or shut the fuck about it and do not sustain a dull conversation about whether or not some young woman of modest talent “chose” to hump demolition equipment probably risking intimate splinters.

The matter is one for gossip and not for the ostensibly serious feminist scrutiny you continue to pretend to provide. I have no problem with gossip whatsoever.  I have, however, no truck with your insistence on churching it up to resemble “feminism”.  Pop-stars and their dress are matters for gossip. To say that these fleeting lovelies inform our subjectivity, our “body image” (whatever than nonsense might have begun to mean) or our “women-times” is to say rather a lot based on no evidence and even less analysis.

Turn your form into something greater than a letter and turn your attentions to something less insubstantial than a caustic coffee-klatch of popstars.




PS Oh.  If you’re feeling in any way remorseful for what you have done to public debate, you could always sponsor my run in the Melbourne Marathon for Indigenous Literacy


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26 Responses to “An Open Letter to Open Letters to Open Blouses on Miley Cyrus et al”

  1. spock says:

    ah, ms. razer, so good to see you back writing and in full swing. :)

  2. carlene says:

    ‘Churching it up to resemble feminism’ – excellent. As always love your work. Thanks

  3. Kerri Sackville says:

    Yeah, disagree on this one as I sometimes do.
    But fuck I love the way you say it. As always. xxxx

  4. tina says:

    She’s back……..!!


  5. Diane says:

    I am past my “women-times” and saving all my tampon money for stamps.

  6. Helen Razer says:

    Sackville. If you are intending to defend the Open Letter, I may have to have words with your kitten about your deficiency of taste.

  7. Amelia says:

    nailed it.

  8. Mariana says:

    So very glad to read you again. I love you the most when you ‘opinionate’ like that. Yes I made up that word. My gift to the OpEd obsession.
    Welcome back.
    Greetings from the kennel (in for repairs until I get to sleep properly).
    Much love and bestest of luck with the impending chaffing of your muff.


    • phyllis.stein says:

      Mariana you may like to know that “opinionate” is a verb. It’s as old as… well, at least 17th century, it means to have or to express an opinion. Opine is another real word. Fascinating.

  9. Lisa says:

    Oh the irony. If I have to read one more fucking open letter in response to open letters I think I might just Seppuku. Then use my entrails to write a bloody open letter.

  10. Vanessa says:

    You said exactly what I wanted to say, Helen (but I am not as articulate). I would like to see a criticism of the music of Miley Cyrus as MUSIC, not as *the most important feminist issue since reproductive freedom* (sarcastic font). Lets save our time, bandwidth, reams of paper and litres of ink for the important issues of life. I am also tired of seeing this issue spoken about as if Ms Cyrus was 12, she appears to be a grown up to me so it would be good if we could stop infantalising her.

  11. thekooriwoman says:


  12. Diggo says:

    More please

  13. tina says:

    Annie Lennox has just written a great response on her facebook page about Miley….

    Check it out….

    Classy and smart Annie as always!!

    Ciao Helen et al


  14. jfrater says:

    agree, of course, but presumably you mislaid their personal addresses and your pen broke.

  15. Larry-bob says:

    Well said, but the nickname of Lord Alfred Douglas was Bosie, not Boise (which is the capital of Idaho, Larry Craig’s home state.)

  16. Corbin says:

    “Either jam the gears of this system of exchange with clever tactics or shut the fuck about it.”

    More articles on how to jam the gears please.

  17. Helen Razer says:

    I fear you’ve misunderstood my point, Corbin, which is to ignore this fluff. Honestly, there is far too much made of the alleged “oppression” of women by mass-marketed ideals of visual perfection. The answer is simple: stop buying this shit.
    As any stroll ’round any shopping mall will attest, it is women themselves who are buying and supporting the maintenance of this nonsense. I believe about 90% of retail floor space is now devoted to women’s beauty and apparel “needs”. So. Stop buying it.
    I’ve been very plain here and in the past about my impatience with the conversation about “objectification” of women. I don’t think it is the big deal so many writers like to make it out to be so I will not offer a way to unpick it.
    There are many manuals for revolution available. But again, and most simply, I suggest that women organise not to shop for a month. That would probably change a good deal more than these painful editorials about How Much it Hurts to Be a Girl in a Beauty Obsessed World.
    You know what? It doesn’t hurt that much.

  18. Carlene says:

    Both the ‘open letter’ & your comment above showing your usual brilliant, witty, no-nonsense insight. Fabulous!

  19. Diane says:

    This is so pretty now. Nothing else matters. Pretty pretty pretty.

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