February 06, 2009

EW: Lady Gaga is not a feminist

Hardly surprising. Here is the actual quote:

"[My music] is sexually empowering women. There's a stigma around feminism that's a little bit man-hating. And I don't promote hatred, ever. That's not to say that I don't appreciate women who feel that way. I've got a lot of gay women friends...I'm not wrong. I'm free. And if it's wrong to be free, then I don't want to be right. Things are changing."

When things are called empowering, they are usually demeaning instead, or at least counter-productive (Suicide Girls, pole-dancing workouts, "choosing" to wear makeup, etc. etc). All too often, "adhering to the standards of the patriarchy" is conflated with "empowerment"--supposedly because a woman made a choice, it is therefore a feminist one. But as long as the patriarchy exists, no sexual choice is a true choice. "Empowerment" is another false construct of the patriarchy that tells women they can have all the fun of feminism with none of the man-hating stigma. It's not feminism. Only true feminism empowers women. And while there are many feminisms and it's not my place to define what "true feminism" is, it is definitely within my power to point out what is NOT feminist.

The "times are changing" part is also troubling, because the message that women should embrace gender roles, be willfully ignorant of sexism, and take off their clothes to make the men happy is not a new one. It has been around forever. The weird thing about our culture is that it is simultaneously extremely puritanical and hypersexualized. We need to be less narrow-minded about sexuality. But changing that doesn't mean objectifying women's bodies even more, even if they're doing it themselves. At the same time, we need to stop hypersexualizing women's (and girls') bodies.

The only solution is the complete destruction of the patriarchy. Only then can women be sexually free and empowered. Until then, we are the sex class. Right now, no matter what we do, no matter what choice we think we're making, we have no true sexual agency.

Now, I don't really care what one person, especially a celebrity, thinks about feminism. It certainly doesn't change what I think about it. And who knows if LG really believes what she is saying? What I care more about is how LG's quote gives such a concise description of the patriarchy's main weapons: delusion and denial. Keeping women misinformed about what feminism is and keeping them unaware of their inescapable role as sex objects makes its job that much easier.

And the "gay women friends" thing is dubious, to say the least. Having gay feminist friends doesn't give you a free pass to say anti-feminist things. And it's completely dehumanizing. Of course, gay women are defined first and foremost by their gayness. They are not given names or personalities, just vague friend status, used as justifications and little else. I will be ever so happy when people finally stop using the "my [insert minority here] friend said it's ok" defense.


  1. I must admit that when I read this, after stumbling upon it through a google search on "lady gaga thinks feminists are angry" (thanks to jezebel.com) I truly thought you were an older woman, or at least 25. Then I realized that you are only in high school. You sound wise without coming off as pompous or as if you were quoting a book or an article. Keep writing.

  2. I found this after reading the EW article you reference. You've very eloquently expressed all of the vague and angry thoughts that bounced through my head after reading LG's inanities (though I wasn't surprised by them, given the utter stupidity of her lyrics). Thanks and keep being awesome.

  3. I came across this blog looking for feminist critiques of GaGa's new video Paparazzi. It features female corpses in sexually contrived poses which really bothers me.

  4. Why are people hailing her as some kind of feminist. People seem to claim she is empowering because she isn't afraid to run about with no clothes on. How is a teeny bopper fan going to look up and see that as empowering?
    It's about as empowering as Geri Haliwell wearing a dress so short you can see her knickers and saying Girl Power.

    If she is concerned about the male hating stigma surrounding feminism, then why doesn't she aim to address it? - rather than run about telling girls they can cook a man dinner, then fuck him because it's 'empowering'.

    I really think her brainless comments that she keeps making with regards to feminism could be rather damaging.

    "I like guys that listen to AC/DC and drink beers and buy me drinks just to show me off at the bar by the jukebox with their friends”
    "I'm not a feminist because it's all about hating men, I, I, I hail men"

    To say it's all about hating men, rather than women's rights and equality shows that she is a little bit clueless. It reminds me of people at college who say, 'I'm not a feminist or anything, but I do think women should have respect' or something. She's just reinforcing a negative stereotype and failing to give support to the movement that aims to change the double standard she is apparently attempting to challenge.

    Anyway, I'll stop here. You should keep on blogging. You write eloquently. All I can manage is disordered ranting.

  5. Don't know if my comment went through (DSL's acting up). You hit the nail on the proverbial head with this. I'm so glad I found this article.

    GaGa is a major artist, with a huge deal from a popular record label. Big labels are owned by whom? Capitalist males. GaGa's making money for them. They keep her confined. If she was a real feminist, she would use another avenue and not pop music.

    What she does on stage (naked dancing, humping dancers, etc) is considered "empowering" because the capitalist money machine has hijacked feminism and invented this new type of "sexual empowerment" feminism which serves to keep the ideals of the patriarchy alive and give little tastes of feminism here and there. What's empowering about nakedness and sexual acts in public? If anything, that's the objectification of a woman's body. Women are locked up by beauty standards made by men, and sexual standards made by men. It's like a man is saying "You must live your entire existence for my approval, and the only tool you have is sex." And GaGa is adding "But have sex more and more with anyone you want!". I just can't add that up. She's objectifying herself and women. And given her narcissistic personality, she always will use the reversal tactic to criticism.

    "Ms. Gaga, your videos contain some sexist elements."
    "Oh, I wanted to portray a feminist theme using sarcasm. Some people are too dumb to understand that. It's art."
    "Ms. Gaga, your blatant sexuality and scantily clad clothing don't really add up with being a feminist."
    "Oh, I was challenging the viewers and hoping they would question the situation of women. If they see it as contrary, then they are close-minded. It's art."

    Yeah right. She's got a personality cult, and likes to say things to stir people up. And she doesn't need to be deep or enlightening to have millions of followers. Just advertise your "art". Ayn Rand, who is about deep as a puddle on the sidewalk, wrote a few horrible novels in the midst of the cold war and capitalists saw her as a good advertising tool, so she got fame and had her own little personality cult that lasts even today. And as far as her art, Madonna, Aguilera, Warhol, Dali... they've done it before, and she's just making a collage of their stuff.

    I made a post about this too on my blog:


    Check it out, and feel free to comment. I'll subscribe! (Btw, you write very well. If you'd like, since my blog is actually a blog with many writers, I can let you contribute to it.)