“Lady Gaga in part because she keeps us guessing about who she, as a woman, really is. She has been praised for using her music and videos to raise this question and to confound the usual exploitative answers provided by the media Gagas gonzo wigs, her outrageous costumes, and her fondness for dousing herself in what looks like blood, are supposed to complicate what are otherwise conventionally sexualized performances” but this complication does not necessarily lead to a feminist liberation (Bauer 2010).
Still, Gaga has been embraced by a generation of women, some who shun and some who embrace the feminist label. “Lady Gaga idealizes this way of being in the world. But real young women, who, as has been well documented, are pressured to make themselves into boy toys at younger and younger ages, feel torn. They tell themselves a Gaga-esque story about what theyre doing. When theyre on their knees in front of a worked-up guy they just met at a party, they genuinely do feel powerful — sadistic, even” (Bauer 2010). But what about when women wish to have a relationship, beyond this kind of hook-up, transient sexuality? Does Gaga translate into the other goals of the feminist movement, beyond parodying one type of feminine aesthetic?
It is interesting that so many women have found Gaga fascinating, and gay men, but heterosexual men are often left cold, even when Gaga wears skimpy, porn-style clothing. Her films seem to have little to say about heterosexual romance when it is not obsessive and dark. While I personally like Lady Gagas music, I have not connected to her persona and stage show in the manner of some of my female friends. For them, Gaga represents more than a collection of songs: she is part of a new way of being a woman, of letting it all hang out. But as brave and bold as she may be, Gaga seems to be all about doing exactly what Katha Pollitt said was wrong about modern feminism “Whatever floats your boat” (Pollitt, 318, cited by Love & Helmbrecht 46). Gaga suggests that wearing outrageous clothing and makeup and finding yourself are the most important aspects of modern feminism.
Listening to Lady Gaga may not be an antifeminist act, but loving Gaga is not a substitute for the type of meaningful political change desired by Love and Helmbrecht. Just like listening to rap music is not a substitute for fighting racism, using an artist to speak for a movement, or even for ones own position on feminism, only goes so far to foster change. Lady Gaga should not be faulted for wanting to advance her career or even transmitting an ambiguous message in her music, but as well as debating the true meaning of “Bad Romance,” there must also be a focus upon debating the current state of womens lives in America, lives that have not experienced the meteoric rise of Gagas career.
Bauer, Joy. “Lady Power.” The New York Times. June 20, 2010. June 21, 2010.
Love, Meredith A. & Brenda M. Helmbrecht. “Teaching the conflicts: (Re)engaging students with feminism in a postfeminist world.” Feminist Teacher. 18(1).
Maloney, Malori. Lady Gaga: “Im not a feminist. I hail men, I love men.” Bitch.
August 5, 2009. June 21, 2010.
Powers, Ann. “Frank talk with Lady Gaga.” The L.A. Times. December 13, 2009.
June 21, 2010. http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/music/la-ca-lady-gaga13-2009dec13,1,1933920,full.story
Williams, Noelle. “Is Lady Gaga a feminist?” Ms. March 11, 2010. June 21, 2010.