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The Difference Between Being Sexually Empowered and Twerking

I am all about sex and owning your sh*t. But to conflate sexuality with a 20-year-old's ego and say that everything she does is edgy, trendy, on the verge and in some cases artistic is doing nothing for women.
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I was entirely surprised when a little post I wrote last week about the truth about the word "slut" was so well received. A lot of women (and men) thanked me for saying that women who are sexually active, who have a healthy sex life and who unabashedly enjoy sex are still good people. I was so thrilled that so many people not only got, but agreed with the message -- my sex life doesn't make or break my moral ability to be a good person.

So, as I sat watching the VMA's on Sunday, I began to wonder if I was being hypocritical judging the hell out of Miley Cyrus. I watched her twerk and stick her tongue out like a snake trying to navigate the stage and I just thought, Christ almighty, who okayed this?

Today on CNN, I read an opinion article titled "Miley Cyrus is Sexual -- Get Over It." and I just got fed up.

There is a big difference between being sexual and being obnoxiously try-hard. And unfortunately, I've come to the conclusion that Cyrus is the latter.

Do you remember what it was like being 20? I do. Seven short years ago, I might not have had Cyrus's fame or money or notoriety, but I had her unabashed ego. The idea that everything revolved around me and my short jean skirts from Hollister and my big-ass heels and my freedom to be a rebel. I was changing the world and claiming my adulthood one "adult" decision at a time. To me, this is what Cyrus is doing, just with a lot of people watching. And unfortunately, the attention she's getting is feeding the ego. We aren't watching her because she's making massive statements regarding sexuality and women's rights and artistic ventures -- she's making annoyingly catchy pop music and walking around in public in fuzzy diapers with Brigitte Nielsen's haircut with her tongue hanging out of her mouth more than a dog missing its lower jaw. She's a sideshow spectacle with a catchy theme song, not Gloria Steinem.

I am all about sex and owning your sh*t. But to conflate sexuality with a 20-year-old's ego that everything she does is edgy, trendy, on the verge and in some cases artistic is doing nothing for women. What I watched Cryus do on stage and what I've seen from her over the last year between the inability to keep her tongue in her mouth and her constant need to shake her ass against anything stationary like a dog humping a pillow is not owning sexuality, it's hyping it up to get a shock. I get the tween stars want to break away -- the Biebers and the Mileys and the Demis. They all grow up and want to prove to the world they've grown up. But this isn't proving to anyone they're adults, it's proving they're ill-advised and losing their grip in front of millions of people reading magazines, gossip sites and watching the VMAs. Miley Cryus grinding on Robin Thicke's crotch on stage while in a nude bikini and pigtails that made her look like one of those girls who does "young girl legal porn" isn't making it easier for women to embrace their sexuality. To me, it's making it harder. Cyrus's antics make sexuality look like a PR stunt. An attention grab. Most women don't want attention for the sex they have, they just want to be able to have it without feeling ashamed. I look at Miley Cyrus and I just think of myself in that little jean skirt thinking I was doing something huge by "owning" myself and I wasn't. It was a part of growing up -- but it didn't mean I was grown up.

While she has easily shed the Mouse House label, do I think Cyrus is someone women should admire for her brazen "sexuality"? No. I think she is a stunt. Like Lady Gaga. I think these are women who put on silly outfits that show off their crotch and think by grinding on stage, it empowers them. It doesn't. It makes you wonder what the hell they are compensating for. I love sex. I write about it a lot and I have stories that could kill a nun. I share those things in a way that (I hope and believe) empowers women by letting other women who enjoy sex know they aren't alone and aren't bad people for it. Do I think Miley Cyrus putting on a fuzzy diaper and shaking her ass is helping anyone or giving women a sense of ownership over their bodies and what they can do with them? Not at all. I think it's a try-hard stunt by a 20-year-old kid who desperately wants to be seen as legit.

Do I think Miley Cyrus is sexual? Sure. I think she has sex (if I were dating Liam Hemsworth and not having sex I'd think there was something SEVERELY wrong with me). And maybe it's hot and raunchy and dirty and amazing. But I don't think these ridiculous outfits or her ego of self-importance or her desire to shed her mouse ears by wearing as little clothing as legally possible in public has anything to do with her sexuality or her level of adulthood. I just think when you look at where she's come from -- a squeaky-clean Disney darling with terrible teeth and chipmunk cheeks -- she's desperate to get to the complete opposite side of the spectrum. In a few short years, she will (hopefully) realize that it's the middle of the spectrum that works the best. Until then, I find it borderline insulting that anyone would call whatever it is Cyrus is doing these days sexually empowering for women. It's not what we wear or how we gyrate in public that gives us ownership over the things we do with our bodies -- it's our ability to balance our sexuality with being a rational adult that gives us the ultimate power to prove sexuality is not something to be feared, but embraced.