Gloria Steinem on Miley Cyrus

Feminist icon Gloria Steinem weighed in on the whole debate around Miley Cyrus’ behaviour at the VMAs and her video for ‘Wrecking Ball’. Check out her response here.

Fantastic. This ends the debate.

Miley Cyrus at the VMAs was shocking because it looked like she and Robin Thicke and her entire entourage were on acid and had abandoned common sense. Nothing to do with the fact that she’s a woman. It’s weird because it’s weird.

I know I wasn’t the only one shocked by it, and I know I wasn’t the only one for whom her gender didn’t even enter the discussion.

What does it matter if she’s a woman? Are women not allowed to do insane things? It disturbed me because it was weird – nobody wants to see giant teddy bears dancing around to a bad song!

But then when you look at peoples’ reactions, it starts to get really weird, and very quickly. Many are berating her because she had an off-moment. Maybe she wasn’t thinking it through, maybe she thought it was interesting or cool, or maybe she just flat out wanted to get attention. Mission accomplished!

It gets worrying when you listen to people who try burdening her with the load of always being ‘on’ and always being a responsible role model for young girls. That’s too much pressure for anyone, never mind a young woman.

We then enter the territory of whether or not celebrities should even be considered role models for your children, rather than the entertainers that they are. Why should your child aspire to be like her, rather than like her mothers or aunts, or the other real women in her life?

And why can’t she just let loose and get weird, without a whiplash reaction like this? Let her be disturbing if she must; we can judge her for it, of course, but we shouldn’t try and stop this kind of performance because people are worried about what little girls everywhere will think.

Then there’s another issue: where are the debates and hatred over Robin Thicke’s behaviour? Or are we focussing only on the woman because they’re the only ones capable of ‘behaving badly’ and out of the line we’ve created? He’s a married father – so Wikipedia informs me – grinding on a woman 16 years his junior. Why is that not called out for being inappropriate? Why are parents not complaining about his failure to be a decent role model for their kids?

And so on and so on. I’m outlining these arguments because I haven’t so far.

But what Gloria Steinem said really does end the debate – there’s a disgusting disparity in the genders here. We have created lines for what constitutes acceptable behaviour for a woman, but none for men, and we expect women to adhere to these ridiculous rules while just letting the older, married father continue being lewd and provocative. Why?

I’m not defending what she did. It freaked me out and it’s weird. But I will absolutely defend her right to do so without condemnation being centred around her gender. By all means take her apart for looking like she’s high and abandoned reason, but leave her gender out of it. Or, if you’re going to lampoon that, start attacking the man in his mid 30s acting out sex scenes in front of a live audience!

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