Last week, during the Women’s Media Awards, Steinem was asked by Yahoo’s Omg! Insider whether she thoughtCyrus’ risque 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.
Good on her. Focus where the problem is, not on the shiny thing.
4 thoughts on “Why Gloria Steinem is the Utter Best”
I agree with Steinem (and by extension you)only to a small extent. That culture does exist. And i don’t see the need to demonize one stupid undignified wretch who’s way too far gone to reverse the process of allowing herself to be bought and sold that’s been going one since she was a kid.
But if the culture is the problem, and the not changing is why the problem isn’t fixed, it needs to change. And just saying “we need to change the culture” implies that “and until some unspecified WE does change it in some unspecified WAY, then shit yeah, young women can just go right ahead and allow themselves to be objectified, to be fetishized, and have their bodies commodified because that’s the only way they can hope to make 8 bajillion dollars, why blame them?”
You say someday soon we will all stand as brothers
Till then I guess we’ll all just stand around
How does anyone expect that culture to be changed? We all gonna just wait around and hope it stops, or are people as individuals going to choose not to participate, not to buy into the lie? Because here’s the deal: Miley does not have to make 8 bajillion dollars, the people that profit from selling her don’t have to make 8 bajillion dollars.
There are tens of thousands of artists, many of whom are younger and more impressionable than her, all over the world just as or more physically attractive and just as or more talented than her, and just as driven
and they made a different choice.
Or more correctly,they make a series of different choices every day, to make a living by doing their art on their own terms. And they don’t starve. They figure out how to make a living and yeah, they probably still compromise their values every now and then, but in ways that don’t reduce and dehumanize themselves and that don’t perpetuate the culture of reducing and dehumanizing others.
Oh yeah, they also change culture. You know how? They don’t buy into the bullshit crap LIE that the 8 bajillion dollar game and all it requires of women is “the only game in town.”
pretty still wins.
Steinem could have turned the question on its head with two words: “Janelle Monae”
Came from nothing. Father was a garbage man. Playing her own fucking game on her own terms.
In comparing the two statements – Steinem’s “that’s the way the culture is”, and virgotex’s “Oh yeah, they also change culture” – let’s just say that the more we change, the more we stay the same. Noel Terry’s book Marriage War: Lipstick Breadwinners, Erotic Housewives (cue Amazon) shows why some take the “erotic capital” objectified route while others make a different choice.
Steinem’s “that’s the way the culture is” hasn’t changed since 1862 according to Terry, who takes the reader back to pioneer feminist Emily Faithfull’s “controversial piece at a time when a woman was absolutely powerless except for the body she stood up in: ‘Every woman should be free to support herself by the use of whatever faculties God has given her'”.
Terry argues: “Paradoxically, despite equality being won and women empowered, there has never been more opportunity to utilise ‘whatever faculties God has given’ (or not given and the scalpel maketh up the shortfall). Witness the divine female form spread-eagled and bent every-which-way to be ogled at in lad mags and on screens, not to mention pole-dancing strip clubs, jelly wrestling, lingerie football and the oldest profession legalised in plush mirrored mansions, now a landmark in many suburbs (‘…and when you come to a large pink building with a giant red stiletto on the roof, turn right…’).
The scary bit a la Great Recession is when Terry opines: “But what better way to ponder the rudiments of the equity age than to entertain the porn-creep idea of men taking up Emily Faithfull’s dictum. In fact, a television series has hung its credibility on that very idea. Witness the racy series with the telling title Hung, about a school teacher down on his luck who decides that moonlighting with ‘whatever faculties God has given’ is fine in the libertarian new age. We are told in a TV guide that ‘it’s not just a show about a guy with a big penis who decides to become a gigolo…Hung is about the fraying of the American dream’. Of course it is”.
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