For those of you living under a rock over the past few months, former Disney child star of the Hannah Montana series, now video vixen, caused a stir with an attention-grabbing performance at the 2013 MTV VMAs.
Miley Cyrus has definitely shed her Disney-friendly image. Alongside a fully-clothed Robin Thicke, whose hit song is criticized for misogyny, the duo made a statement on the sorry state of pop music today. As Miley Cyrus gyrated her scantly clothed body to MTV infamy, older generations of feminists where forced to ponder whether the movement for equality has been set back.
Robin Thicke's rape culture anthem has made him a household name, and Miley Cyrus gained international interest by performing half-naked.
Enter feminism icon Gloria Steinem.
Last week, during the Women's Media Awards, Steinem was asked by Yahoo's Omg! Insider whether she thought Cyrus' risqué VMAs performance and "Wrecking Ball" video were setting the feminist movement back.
The icon and activist answered with a resounding "I don't think so." She expanded on that opinion, saying:
"I wish we didn't have to be nude to be noticed ... But given the game as it exists, women make decisions. For instance, the Miss America contest is in all of its states ... the single greatest source of scholarship money for women in the United States. If a contest based only on appearance was the single greatest source of scholarship money for men, we would be saying, "This is why China wins." You know? It's ridiculous. But 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."
Cringe-worthy rhetoric from a woman who spent a lifetime defying the status quo for the weaker sex. (But not the first).
Notwithstanding the Miss America pageant, which does include both a talent and a tough question component -- something many bottled-blonde beauties are unable to master, the premise that nudity is required to be noticed is a poor explanation.
" Beauty fades. Dumb is forever"
-- Judge Judy.
The latest Miss America, a 24-year-old second-generation American, was on the dean's list at the University of Michigan when she earned the Michigan Merit Award and National Honor Society nods. Nina Davuluri, of Upstate New York, graduated with a degree in brain behaviour and cognitive science. One could argue she got noticed long before she entered the pageant. As Ms. Davulur progresses towards her goal of becoming a physician, her best notable achievements lay ahead.
That said, the TV ratings for Miss America have been in decline for a generation -- a clear sign that the "culture" which reduces bikini-clad women to walking in high heels is changing.
ENTERTAINMENT BUSINESS BUST
Plenty of female artists are
asked forced to increase their bust size, reduce their waistline and plunge their neckline to attain a level of success. However, the gimmick only lasts for a short time, in most cases. Of the top-selling female artists of all time, a small fraction achieved longevity by exploiting their bodies. Even for those who shot to fame with sexually-suggestive lyrics, their longevity was ultimately assured because of their talent.
If Miley Cyrus had the kind of talent that lasts, she wouldn't have to resort to wearing lingerie on the red carpet to sell albums. Do you think a young Céline Dion ever pulled such a stunt? Put simply, the great ones don't have to go there.
Top 20 selling female artists, according to Billboard/Wikipedia.
2. Whitney Houston
3. Céline Dion
4. Mariah Carey
5. Donna Summer
6. Barbra Streisand
8. Tina Turner
9. Linda Ronstadt
10. Olivia Newton-John
11. Janet Jackson
13. Britney Spears (NSFW)
14. Taylor Swift
15. Reba McEntire
16. Lady Gaga
17. Shania Twain
18. Gloria Estefan
19. Aretha Franklin
20. Spice Girls
Gloria Steinem's Cyrus defence seems to be "don't blame the player, blame the game." With little options, Miley Cyrus has been highly effective in manufacturing sexuality to gain attention in this sexist world we live in.
Life has given her lemons in the form of talent -- she is making lemonade, carving her place into the entertainment business. They forgot to ask Steinem whether this sympathetic lens extends to hoodie-wearing black teenage boys, living up to the B.E.T. thug culture. Cyrus doesn't deserve a pass any more than Lil' Wayne does.
Artists always have the choice to take the high road. In some cases, their actions aren't a choice but a compulsion to camouflage their artistic deficiencies. No matter the excuse, the Miley's of the entertainment world don't deserve anyone's justification or ree, ree, ree, ree, respect.
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 09: Singer Miley Cyrus arrives at Clive Davis & The Recording Academy's 2013 Pre-GRAMMY Gala and Salute to Industry Icons honoring Antonio 'L.A.' Reid at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on February 9, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 14: Miley Cyrus poses backstage at the Marc Jacobs Collection Fall 2013 fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at New York Armory on February 14, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Marc Jacobs)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 24: Singer Miley Cyrus attends the 21st Annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Viewing Party at West Hollywood Park on February 24, 2013 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for EJAF)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 06: Miley Cyrus attends the Costume Institute Gala for the 'PUNK: Chaos to Couture' exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 6, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for The Huffington Post)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 19: Miley Cyrus arrives at the 2013 Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 19, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 12: Actress/recording artist Miley Cyrus attends the Myspace Event at the El Rey Theatre on June 12, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
MIAMI BEACH, FL - JUNE 29: Miley Cyrus poses at the iHeartRadio Ultimate Pool Party Presented by VISIT FLORIDA at Fontainebleau's BleauLive in Miami on June 29, 2013 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by John Parra/Getty Images for Clear Channel)
UNIVERSAL CITY, CA - AUGUST 11: Singer Miley Cyrus attends the Teen Choice Awards 2013 at Gibson Amphitheatre on August 11, 2013 in Universal City, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 25: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Miley Cyrus attends the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards at the Barclays Center on August 25, 2013 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for MTV)
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