And now, an existentially chilling fact: the Internet has spent the better part of the last two months engaged in time- and soul-sucking Miley Cyrus-related discourse. (At this point, the Internet is officially Miley's world-we just trash her in it.) Our negative interest in her and her V.M.A. performance has propelled the 20-year-old pop star to the cover of Rolling Stone, the stage of Saturday Night Live (as both host and musical act), the Today studio (for some awkward middle-aged-sex-related banter with Matt Lauer), and whatever seedy porn-photo den Terry Richardson had at his disposal last week. But throughout all of this discourse, the world has been lacking the opinion of one of the women most qualified to comment on Miley Cyrus's in-your-face self-sexualization: Gloria Steinem.
Last night, at the 2013 Women's Media Center Awards ceremony in New York, America's foremost feminist and women's-rights activist gave her thoughts on Cyrus's behavior-specifically whether she thinks it is hurting the movement she helped pioneer in the 1960s. "You know, I don't think so," Steinem told Yahoo's omg! Insider blog when asked about Cyrus. "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," she continued. "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."
With Vulture, Steinem took a slightly less pro-Miley stance when asked about the pop singer's recent feud with Sinéad O'Connor, who has written several open letters begging Cyrus to not let herself be "pimped" by the music business. "I think they have different views of the world," Steinem said of Cyrus and O'Connor, "and I would much rather be O'Connor. I mean, she's a serious human being. Perhaps they both are, but we don't know that yet."
So just what was Cyrus doing last night, while Steinem was making these statements? She was also in New York, attending the release party for her fourth studio album, Bangerz, in a pink satin-bra-and-mini-skirt combination that The Huffington Post identified as "what looks like lingerie."
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