Gloria, Sinead and Miley Walked into a Bar…

And so it continues.  Miley Cyrus, who has become everyone’s favorite person to trash on the internet over the last several months, popped up this past weekend on Saturday Night Live where she did her schtick (it has become a schtick, btw) of rolling her tongue around on the side of her mouth while flashing some sort of pop star gang sign with her long lacquered fingernails.

I still don’t get it although, to be fair, I think she does.  It appears she’s moved into self-deprecating territory and, thankfully I guess, has quickly become a parody of herself.

One bit of good has arisen from all the Miley chatter though in that it has served as yet another catalyst for cultural discussions on feminism, women and the patriarchal culture in which we still live.

  • Gloria Steinem has chimed in. A few weeks ago at the Women’s Media Awards, Le Steinem, when asked if she thought some of Miley’s recent activities were setting the feminist movement back, answered “I don’t think so. I wish we didn’t have to be nude to be noticed, but given the game as it exists, women make decisions.” (Blame to society)
  • Sinead O’Connor, who learned that Miley claimed her “Wrecking Ball” video was based on O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares to U” video, wrote an open letter to Miley in which she said “Nothing but harm will come in the long run, from allowing yourself to be exploited, and it is absolutely NOT in ANY way an empowerment of yourself or any other young women, for you to send across the message that you are to be valued (even by you) more for your sexual appeal than your obvious talent.”  (note – as of this writing, the open letter has been removed from O’Connor’s website but you can read the full letter here).  (Blame to Miley.  And sort of to society).

Now I don’t think many of us can argue that the global society in which we live is patriarchal; centuries and eons have laid that foundation. And while I’m all for making money and being a capitalist there is, at the core of capitalism, a whiff (just a whiff) of male privilege as evidenced by the fact that it’s usually a bunch of rich white men who are calling the shots.  And those are the same dudes who dictate, to a fairly large extent, what women can and/or should do.  Miley is just going along and playing the game the best she can in the world in which we live.

But should she?  Or, perhaps the better question to ask becomes “is it even a game that’s being played?”

Feminism is about providing equal opportunities for women yet it empowers men as well as women by allowing all of us to cast aside pre-conceived notions of “the way things should be.”   It allows us as women (not the men who are in power) to determine what is best for us and ensures that we all have the freedom to make our own choices.  Sometimes it takes the collective group to get those options on the table in the first place (i.e., the right to vote, have equal funding for sports) and sometimes it’s individuals making a decision for themselves about how they want to live their lives.  Shall I wear pants or dresses?  Have short or long hair? Enter the workforce or be a stay at home parent? Use an IUD or the Birth Control pill?

Individual choice.

While I wasn’t overly enthusiastic about Miley’s spank-fest on the VMA awards I fully supported her right to do it.  She sparked some discussion.  And while crappy teddy-bear costumes may not be cause for revolution one spark can start a fire – or at least keep it burning.

So yeah – if Gloria, Sinead and Miley walked into a bar I would certainly buy all of them a drink; and that’s not just a punch line.

Disclaimer:  I am no fan of Ms. Cyrus although I do admit to finding “Party in the USA” strangely intoxicating and have, on occasion, found myself singing along.

About the Author

Robin Schooling

With 25 years of HR Management experience, Robin Schooling, SPHR, has worked in a variety of industries. In 2013, after serving as VPHR with a Louisiana based organization, she left corporate HR to open up Silver Zebras, LLC, an HR Consulting firm. She blogs at HRSchoolhouse and you can follow her on twitter at @RobinSchooling where, on football weekends, you can read all her #whodat tweets.



Totally agree with your points above. But let me pose some questions. What would happen if all entertainment was “politically correct”? Who ordains what is in “good taste”? Look at someone like Madonna, she has evolved over the years and is still one of the most powerful performers out there (remember her “SEX” book). Are we shocked because her act was in and of itself outrageous? Or was it because she was Hannah Montana? How would people react if Robin Thicke was prancing around close to naked?


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