There comes word today of what teenage girls really think about Miley Cyrus after the scandal over her bedsheet photo shoot: They say she’s a “slut” and “whore.” In today’s New York Times, reporter Susan Dominus talks with a handful of New York City girls about the controversial Vanity Fair photos. The teenagers — many wearing skimpy skirts, cleavage-framing dresses and tight baby tees, and painted with glitter and Barbie-esque blush — describe Cyrus using words usually reserved for tagging the locker of the girl rumored to have slept with half the high school football team. Dominus frames their response perfectly:
Dressing sexy, as she and so many of her classmates do, was one thing. Dressing in bedding, seemingly otherwise unclothed, was apparently quite another: contemptible, an actual evocation of sex itself. It’s a paradigm about this generation of teenage girls that’s perplexing to anyone who’s aged out of it: They exude sexuality, even as they’ve internalized a language of shame and anger around it, a language that makes anyone who crosses some ever finer line of appropriate behavior a slut or a whore.