“I feel like I’m one of the biggest feminists in the world because I tell women to not be scared of anything.”
Let’s not be under any illusion here. Miley Cyrus is a hardworking, savvy businesswoman who knows precisely what she needs to do to maximise her earning potential.
But she is also young, and while her desire to make the world a less frightening place for women is admirable, what she needs to realise is that her weapon of choice cuts most out of her sphere of influence before she even opens her mouth.
If you are a teenager, male or female, and you happen to fall into the entirely subjective category of “unattractive”, your life will not be improved or made less frightening by a cultural icon continually telling you that personal empowerment is derived from appearance. The same applies if you are older. In fact, this approach only really offers empowerment to nubile, elasticated, conventionally alluring adolescents.
The ability to take one’s clothes off and act in a provocative, overtly sexual manner is a form of self-expression but should it actually be considered a valid form of empowerment in 2013? Have we spent the last two million years evolving so that people can express themselves in a way that animals do? Isn’t that a little reductive?
As a woman, I see feminism not as a stubborn, reactive bid for equality but a collective noun for a gender striving to achieve their full potential, whether that be in the creative arts, business, motherhood or just in life itself. I’m not going to criticise Miley Cyrus for aspiring towards an ideal. She’s her own woman. But as another woman, an older woman, I can tell her for certain that if she genuinely wants to have a positive effect on the lives of as many women as possible, she would do it better with her clothes on.
If she’s as culturally savvy as she claims to be, she’ll already know that the whole ‘empowerment through sexualisation and nudity’ was an embarrassing failure anyway.
If not, Madonna wrote a book about it twenty years ago. The blueprint is in there.