Gloria Steinem: Miley Cyrus is a product of her environment

Oct 9, 2013 at 5:51 p.m. ET

Gloria Steinem defends Miley Cyrus and her sexually explicit antics but says Sinead O'Connor's viral letter to Cyrus makes a valid claim against the pop star's recent behavior.

Miley Cyrus tweets photo of herself in New York on October 9, 2013.

Feminist icon Gloria Steinem has choice words aimed at all the recent Miley Cyrus controversy.

Steinem was interviewed at the 2013 Women's Media Awards and the 79-year-old journalist and social activist explained that Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke's explicit VMAs performance is largely a result of cultural expectations.

More naked Miley Cyrus photos released by Terry Richardson >>

"I wish we didn't have to be nude to be noticed," said Steinem. "But given as it exists, women make decisions. For instance, the Miss America contest in all of its states, forms… [it's] the single greatest source of scholarship money for 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?"

Steinem continued, "It's ridiculous. But that's the way culture is. I think that we need to change the culture, not blame the people that are playing the only game that exists."

Miley Cyrus: Topless for Rolling Stone, sick of double standards >>

Miley Cyrus received most — if not all — of the negative attention for her performance with Robin Thicke at MTV's VMAs in August. The two performed "Blurred Lines" during which Cyrus stripped down to a nude-colored bikini and acted out sexually explicit moves. It was even rumored that Cyrus' then-fiancé Liam Hemsworth split with her after he felt "mortified" by her actions.

While millions were outraged, Cyrus took it all in stride. She got naked for Terry Richardson in her music video for "Wrecking Ball," which then smashed through VEVO records. Last weekend, Cyrus tweeted suggestive photos of herself while in Las Vegas for the iHeartRadio music festival.

PHOTOS: Miley Cyrus' top 5 WTF VMAs moments >>

Last night, as Gloria Steinem attended the Women's Media Awards in New York, Cyrus, also in New York, celebrated her album's release. Cyrus posted the above right photo to her Twitter account with the simple caption, "#bangerzreleasepartyNY."

Steinem also mentioned that in the current feud between Sinead O'Connor and Miley Cyrus, she leans toward O'Connor's perspective. "I think they're disagreeing on substance," said Steinem to Vulture magazine. "I think they have different views of the world, and I would much rather be O'Connor."

Gloria Steinem elaborated, "I mean, [Sinead O'Connor] is a serious human being. Perhaps they both are, but we don't know that yet… I'm sure it does pain her to see a young woman being oblivious to the endangerment of sexuality."

Photo courtesy of Miley Cyrus/Twitter

Tagged in