Now we can officially stop talking about Miley-gate. No matter how tired we are of rehashing the VMA performance and “Wrecking Ball” video, Cyrus’ work does offer insight into how women are encouraged to express themselves and how young women are viewed by the public. Are Cyrus’ performances feminist and sex-positive as some claim? I personally think not; after all, she has a team of men who aren’t exactly known for respecting women and their bodies (ahem, Terry Richardson) behind much of the work. But is Cyrus herself to blame for pop culture’s tendency to degrade women? Of course not.
Feminist icon and women’s rights trailblazer Gloria Steinem offered an eloquent and fair response to the controversy. In conversation with Yahoo OMG!, Steinem suggests that the objectifying imagery in Miley’s work is indicative of the way our popular culture views women, not of Cyrus’ own aesthetic. Citing Miss America as the primary scholarship fund for women, Steinem recognizes that we inhabit a culture where women are prized for their bodies and physical beauty is a means to success.
And a woman who plays along with the culture can’t really be faulted: “I wish we didn’t have to be nude to be noticed ... But given the game as it exists, women make decisions,” she writes, “that’s the way the culture is. I think that we need to change the culture, not blame the people that are playing the only game that exists.” How refreshing! Instead of blaming a young woman for her personal path the success, let’s look more deeply into the factors that encourage women to objectify themselves.
What do you think of Steinem's response to Cyrus' behavior? Let us know in the comments section below!
Images via Yahoo OMG!