Skip to main content

Miley Cyrus is sexual -- get over it

By Pepper Schwartz, Special to CNN
updated 2:54 PM EDT, Tue August 27, 2013
Miley Cyrus became a household name for families when her Disney Channel television show, "Hannah Montana," premiered in 2006. From there, Cyrus quickly rose to pop star fame and has been changing her appearance ever since. Miley Cyrus became a household name for families when her Disney Channel television show, "Hannah Montana," premiered in 2006. From there, Cyrus quickly rose to pop star fame and has been changing her appearance ever since.
HIDE CAPTION
Evolution of Miley Cyrus
Evolution of Miley Cyrus
Evolution of Miley Cyrus
Evolution of Miley Cyrus
Evolution of Miley Cyrus
Evolution of Miley Cyrus
Evolution of Miley Cyrus
Evolution of Miley Cyrus
Evolution of Miley Cyrus
Evolution of Miley Cyrus
Evolution of Miley Cyrus
Evolution of Miley Cyrus
Evolution of Miley Cyrus
Evolution of Miley Cyrus
Evolution of Miley Cyrus
Evolution of Miley Cyrus
Evolution of Miley Cyrus
Evolution of Miley Cyrus
Evolution of Miley Cyrus
Evolution of Miley Cyrus
Evolution of Miley Cyrus
Evolution of Miley Cyrus
Evolution of Miley Cyrus
Evolution of Miley Cyrus
Evolution of Miley Cyrus
Evolution of Miley Cyrus
Evolution of Miley Cyrus
Evolution of Miley Cyrus
Evolution of Miley Cyrus
Evolution of Miley Cyrus
Evolution of Miley Cyrus
Evolution of Miley Cyrus
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Miley Cyrus's performance at the MTV video music awards show stunned viewers
  • Pepper Schwartz: Let's face it, young women today are flaunting their sexuality
  • She says we need to tell kids that in real life, a little bit of subtlety goes a long way
  • Schwartz: There are far better ways for young women to be attractive and appealing

Editor's note: Pepper Schwartz is professor of sociology at the University of Washington and the author or co-author of 17 books, the latest of which is "The Normal Bar." She is the AARP love and relationship ambassador and writes the Naked Truth column for AARP.org. She is a senior fellow at the Council on Contemporary Families, a nonprofit organization that gathers research on American families, and chief expert for perfectmatch.com.

(CNN) -- My oh my Miley!

Miley Cyrus did an in-your-face, look at me now, pornographic performance at the record industry's most public coming out party, the MTV video music awards.

This was no accident. She did every porn star move in the book, and the only thing different was that there wasn't actual genital connection, and her seemingly sprayed on rubber undies and bra did cover her private parts.

Pepper Schwartz
Pepper Schwartz

What was Miley thinking? You don't have to guess. She was probably thinking: "I'm not that Miley Cyrus anymore and this ought to prove it."

It's shocking all right. But let's face it. A 20-year-old these days is unlikely to be a virgin and if she's in the fast lane (read: Hollywood, New York City and other big cities) she is not going to look innocent. Shocked at Miley? Have you noticed your average 15-year-old girl lately? She has her midriff bared, she's wearing her underwear for the world to see and her skirt may or may not cover her butt and crotch.

Outraged parents: What was Miley thinking?

It's hard to take it as parents. We know how young 15 really is. Hell, we know how young 20 is. My guess is after Miley has finished with her personally satisfying PR moment from this, she's going to tone it down eventually. But right now, this is her battle cry: I am a fully sexual, bad-assed vixen and live with it.

Watch Miley Cyrus' shocking VMA act
O-M-Miley: From teen queen to too grown
Miley Cyrus twerks at VMAs
Miley Cyrus' performance shocks fans

How should we integrate this new human being with the little girl Disney promoted as wholesome and childlike?

Maybe a better use of our time is to think about the models of sexuality that are in most rock groups and how we talk to our kids about them. The metaphors in the lyrics and bump and grind moves in the videos have been around for quite a while. So how do we tell our children that they can be young men and women without looking and acting, like rock performers?

Well, this is a well-beaten drum I'm going to pound, but we have to talk to them about how that is show business, and that in real life, a little bit of subtlety goes a long way. That ultimately, in this turtle and hare story, the more discriminating, less crudely sexual person wins the girl or guy's love, and a lot of other good things in life.

Miley upholds VMAs tradition

We can give the talk without having to link this performance to abstinence before marriage, or that sexuality per se is wrong or bad for you. The statistics will tell you that approach is, for most parents, a losing game. But research does tell us that parent's opinions and values really do matter on quite a number of sexual issues.

We can take a middle road. Take this performance (and others) as a teachable moment and do what all reputable sex education courses tell us to do -- talk about your own values and why you have them and why they matter. While sexuality can be expressed in our dress and behavior, there are far better ways for young women to be attractive and appealing.

It cannot be said that Miley made a wrong career choice: Look at the press coverage! But modeling porn-star appearance and performance is a dangerous choice for our young people.

I don't think we are ever going to get our teenagers and young adults back in saddle shoes (except as a sly joke) but I do think we can show them that Miley Cyrus' act is a sexual cartoon and that they can put themselves together and act in a way that will make them far more popular and desirable in the long run than what they see in a MTV award show.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Pepper Schwartz.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:59 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
You could be forgiven for thinking no one cares -- or even should care, right now -- about climate change, writes CNN's John Sutter. But you'd be mistaken.
updated 5:32 PM EDT, Sun September 21, 2014
David Gergen says the White House's war against ISIS is getting off to a rough start and needs to be set right
updated 9:00 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
John Sutter boarded a leaky oyster boat in Connecticut with a captain who can't swim as he set off to get world leaders to act on climate change
updated 3:17 PM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says making rude use of the Mexican flag on Mexican independence day in a concert in Mexico was extremely tasteless, but not an international incident.
updated 9:59 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Michael Dunn is going to stand trial again after a jury was unable to reach a verdict; Mark O'Mara hopes for a fair trial.
updated 7:15 PM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Is ballet dying? CNN spoke with Isabella Boylston, a principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre, about the future of the art form.
updated 5:47 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Sally Kohn says it's time we take climate change as seriously as we do warfare in the Middle East
updated 8:17 PM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
Laurence Steinberg says the high obesity rate among young children is worrisome for a host of reasons
updated 9:02 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Dean Obeidallah says an Oklahoma state representative's hateful remarks were rightfully condemned by religious leaders..
updated 3:22 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
No matter how much planning has gone into U.S. military plans to counter the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the Arab public isn't convinced that anything will change, says Geneive Abdo
updated 11:44 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
President Obama's strategy for destroying ISIS seems to depend on a volley of air strikes. That won't be enough, says Haider Mullick.
updated 9:03 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Paul Begala says Hillary Clinton has plenty of good reasons not to jump into the 2016 race now
updated 11:01 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Scotland decided to trust its 16-year-olds to vote in the biggest question in its history. Americans, in contrast, don't even trust theirs to help pick the county sheriff. Who's right?
updated 9:57 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says spanking is an acceptable form of disciplining a child, as long as you follow the rules.
updated 11:47 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Frida Ghitis says the foiled Australian plot shows ISIS is working diligently to taunt the U.S. and its allies.
updated 3:58 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Young U.S. voters by and large just do not see the midterm elections offering legitimate choices because, in their eyes, Congress has proven to be largely ineffectual, and worse uncaring, argues John Della Volpe
updated 9:58 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Steven Holmes says spanking, a practice that is ingrained in our culture, accomplishes nothing positive and causes harm.
updated 2:31 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Sally Kohn says America tried "Cowboy Adventurism" as a foreign policy strategy; it failed. So why try it again?
updated 10:27 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Van Jones says the video of John Crawford III, who was shot by a police officer in Walmart, should be released.
updated 10:48 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
NASA will need to embrace new entrants and promote a lot more competition in future, argues Newt Gingrich.
updated 7:15 PM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
If U.S. wants to see real change in Iraq and Syria, it will have to empower moderate forces, says Fouad Siniora.
updated 8:34 PM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
Mark O'Mara says there are basic rules to follow when interacting with law enforcement: respect their authority.
updated 9:05 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
LZ Granderson says Congress has rebuked the NFL on domestic violence issue, but why not a federal judge?
updated 7:49 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
Mel Robbins says the only person you can legally hit in the United States is a child. That's wrong.
updated 1:23 PM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
Eric Liu says seeing many friends fight so hard for same-sex marriage rights made him appreciate marriage.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT