As I arrived home from a weekend at the beach this past Sunday my Facebook was blowing up with comments expressing shock, awe, and disgust about Miley Cyrus’ performance on the VMA’s. Without having watched it live, the reaction of Will Smith & Co alone spoke volumes. This morning a good friend also posted an interesting view of why Miley might have felt she needed to go to an extreme to express her escape from wholesomeness a la Hannah Montana.

This morning I forced myself to watch the performance again from a thoughtful perspective. I was not as much offended as I was concerned. I am also a realist. It is going to be very difficult to try rid the “sex sells” aspect of our society. But is it ok to express one’s sexuality? Why is it either wholesome Little Mary Sunshine or half-naked dancing with a giant foam finger?

Rather than pontificate,

I think its more important to speculate:

1. Are we REALLY THAT surprised? We tell young women to be confident, accepting of their bodies, and comfortable with themselves, somehow omitting that they are sexual beings.  If we don’t create and define healthy expressions of sexuality, are we surprised that this was her display?

2. So…How do we define what is “sexy?” Was Miley being sexy? Maybe for some, but most of what I saw and heard thought otherwise. Sexy can be SMART or PASSIONATE about something, DRIVEN, or even being FUNNY and EXPRESSIVE.

3. What does the performance tell us about the importance of PERSONHOOD?  If we spent as much time on the PEOPLE that young women are to become rather than the grades or achievements they SHOULD be getting perhaps we can have a NEW conversation about healthy expressions of self. Perhaps “more” is just “more” not better.

4. Is Miley a casualty of a society we have built? Do we sanction the extremes of wholesome or provocative, refusing to find the middle ground?  I include myself in this we. I am just not sure. Rather than criticize her, I feel compassion for her. Who is she? What is she about? What was her reasoning for making the choices she did?

This article isn’t about answers, its more about the questions that are important to ask. Our reactions to Miley’s performance are necessary fodder to contemplate. At the end of the day she is a person just like everyone else with basic needs for belonging, security, love, and affection. We forget sometimes that human beings are, at their core, very similar. So…what do you think?