Is Lady Gaga a Feminist or Isn’t She?

Nobody could describe my relationship with Lady Gaga better than she does: We’re in a Bad Romance.

She’ll say something feminist one minute and equate feminism with man-hating the next. Sometimes she seems too skinny, too blonde, too commercial–but then she explains how her Bad Romance video simulates the trafficking of women as commodities in the music industry and I swoon. So, with the newly released first unofficial biography of Lady Gaga in hand, I set out to settle the question: Is Lady Gaga a feminist or isn’t she?

Emily Herbert’s Lady Gaga: Behind the Fame adds to the already familiar growing-up-Catholic-school-girl backstory new insight into Gaga’s artistic vision and business savvy. In an industry in which many women (and some men) are shepherded to stardom with little input, Gaga appears to be completely in control of her image. As Herbert explains in the book, Gaga’s creative collective, “Haus of Gaga,” is fashioned after Andy Warhol’s Factory. Every member is under 26 years old and hand-picked by Gaga. Together, they handle everything–the music, the clothing, the performances–and are wildly successful at creating exciting, strange art and music that large numbers of people love.

Her art provides a running commentary on gender, sexuality and beauty. There are hints of David Bowie, Prince and Madonna in the way she plays with sexuality, but while Gaga acknowledges these similarities she wants it to be clear she is something entirely her own. With her deliberate juxtaposition of conventional platinum blonde beauty and  fashionably ugly costumes, she toys with conventional rules of attractiveness. Half of her appeal throughout 2009 seemed to be the question of whether or not she was pretty, whether or not people felt comfortable liking her. “I am not sexy in the way Britney Spears is sexy,” Gaga is quoted in the bio, “I just don’t have the same ideas about sexuality that I want to portray. I have a very specific aesthetic–androgyny.”

What effect does it have for someone who defies conventional beauty to be sexy? Maybe it means broadening what sexy is.

Gaga also espouses safe sex and embraces her queer fans.“I want to free [my fans] of their fears and make them feel they can create their own place in the world,” Gaga told Barbara Walters in December 2009. What is more feminist that creating an inclusive atmosphere where people feel accepted?

Lady Gaga speaks at October 2009 National Equality March

And Gaga beautifully articulated the double standard within pop music in this interview:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IkzxwrdyRw0

You see if I was a guy and I was sitting here with a cigarette in my hand, grabbing my crotch, talking about how I make music because I love fast cars and fucking girls, you’d call me a rock star. But when I [sing about sex] in my music and videos, because I’m a female, because I make pop music, you are judgmental and you say that it is distracting.  I’m just a rock star.

But moments later she stomped on my heart:

I’m not a feminist. I hail men, I love men, I celebrate American male culture– beer, bars, and muscle cars.

Feminist fans around the country joined in a collective hand slap to the forehead.

Of all people to be afraid of a word, the controversy-loving Lady Gaga just doesn’t seem to fit. So is Lady Gaga really fearful? Or just ignorant?

I was heartened when finally, as the year came to a close, she admitted to the LA Times that she was a “little bit of a feminist.” And I think she’s more a feminist than she admits. Throughout her time in the spotlight, Gaga has made consistent statements about being a strong woman, focusing on her career and being in control.  On a radio show in September 2009, she addressed a rumor that she was a hermaphrodite: “I think this is society’s reaction to a strong woman.”

Lady Gaga is a young artist who seems to renegotiate her image and identity with each bit of education she receives. Maybe she has made some feminist faux pas, but to her credit, she educates herself and comes back with a stronger statement than the last. She thinks about who she is and how she presents herself, and that is refreshing. And “a little bit feminist.”

I can’t help but fantasize about just what Lady Gaga could do by identifying as“feminist.” Her immense popularity and youthful, outspoken image could be the perfect set-up for a revolution of the word.

Photos from Wikimedia Commons.

Comments

  1. Oh I think she is absolutely feminist! I think her comment about “hailing” men was tongue in cheek, playing into those myths about feminists. She clearly realizes the inequalities for women in the music biz, and is promoting LGBTQ rights, safe sex, AIDS awareness, and women who have creative autonomy. What more could we want? I think sometimes as feminists (I do it too sometimes) we want our female icons and role models to be perfect with feminisms in the ideal sense, but that is not realistic. They live in the same world of flux and contradiction that the rest of us do, and do the best they can. Plus, we don’t want to fall into that same trap of criticizing female musicians harsher than male ones. That gets us nowhere. But I agree with your post, and I love Lady Gaga as well. I knew she was a feminist even before she came out as one. I guess being a feminist musician, you know it when you see it! =)

  2. Great article. Isn’t this what makes lady gaga so alluring after all? You’re never quite sure where the performance ends and are forced to constantly question whether she is satirizing or deserves to be satirized. Ultimately, I think straddling the line works for her. She’s just mainstream enough to fit in, and just progressive enough to challenge our normative views.

    Sometimes I wonder whether it’s intentional or not. Is she a sometime erring liberal or a super-genius progressive manipulator. If anyone knows, don’t tell me. That’s my favorite ambiguity of all.

  3. hollytomlinson says:

    Noelle, I feel your pain and frustration, so many strong feminist women I love and admire are scared of the ‘F’ word. It seems that there is every reason to believe she is a feminist, the only thing thing that suggests otherwise is her aversion to calling herself one and she’s coming round to that.

  4. Jacqueline says:

    Great read. I think as a strong and successful women, she needs to own the feminist within and claim the F word. Oh Barb, you are so right to call her one of 2009′s most interesting people.

  5. For my part, I’m just devastated to discover that, in a little less than a year, I will be too old to work for Lady Gaga.

  6. Interesting analysis Noelle.

    I think, more than anything, your question (is she or isn’t she?) is embedded in a larger question. That is, how people define feminism. Listen to what Gaga says immediately after she claims she’s not a feminist in that Norwegian interview: “I hail men.” Hail – welcome; encourage; approve with enthusiasm. Can’t a feminist hail men? Under which misconstrued definition of feminism can s/he not?

    I was talking to a friend here, an unusually strong Ecuadorian woman of indigenous heritage, and when I told her that yes, I would probably consider myself a feminist, she was much more surprised than I expected, asking me why a female-dominated world would be necessary. What? Does feminism mean female domination?

    People are afraid of “the F word” precisely because of that. They believe that it means that feminists don’t have boyfriends and don’t like any sexy fashion and generally don’t think anything to do with men is necessary.

    I’m not convinced that the singer is as intelligent as her art is (although, I admit, I had no idea who she was until December when I was in the States), and I think that she might not have a clear-set idea of what feminism is–she seems to me to be confusing the definition.

  7. This is one of the few fair and reasonable articles analyzing gaga and feminism that I’ve read. It’s a complicated question, but I think that speaks to fact that determining whether or not anyone is a feminist is complicated. Especially at a point in time when so many legitimate, self-proclaimed feminists frequently find themselves in disagreement with one another about a myriad of issues. It’s hard to define what makes a feminist a feminist, and lady gaga is an excellent example of why. Thanks, Noelle, for not shying away from the facts. Addressing the reality of gaga’s past inconsistencies is commendable. Celebrities are not one-dimensional characters. And they evolve, just like everybody else.

    I understand that it’s hard to forgive certain “mortal feminist sins,” and I understand why it’s important to establish certain shared feminist principles. However, feminism can’t survive on an island, and, as a movement, I don’t think that feminism can afford to turn people away at the door.

  8. Does she actually identify as a feminist? If no, then she’s not a feminist. She certainly seems to have feminist sensibilities that work in similar ways as Madonna circa late ’80s/early 90s, so perhaps that counts for something. At the end of the day, though, she’s simply manipulating the media machine in her monetary favor, and while that may pad her personal pocket, it’s not contributing to systemic change.

  9. Feminist Review:

    I get the idea that you have to be a whole-heartedly self-proclaimed feminist in order to count as one in most circles. But Sarah Palin fits that description. To be fair, Palin might be contributing to systematic change, but not in the direction you or I likely want to go. Maybe we can agree on that. But I really, really think that it is ultimately damaging to the feminist movement to become too attached to some sort of highly subjective (and socially constructed) litmus test for what constitutes a true feminist. And the idea that calling yourself a feminist makes you a feminist, well, that leaves plenty of room for the Palins of the world, and that’s not ok with me!

  10. @ Annie. I agree. If we have some sort of feminist litmus test that defeats any sort of coalition building between feminisms. It’s just more phallogocentric thinking.

    • I am in a class right now about women in music. It is the first time that I have really been exposed to feminism. I have to say that while I can see the amazing progress that the feminist movement has instigated during the last 100 years, it troubles me how exclusive the movement is becoming. Up until the early 1990′s, my impression of the movement is that its ideals centered around providing equal rights, expanded agency in education and protection from sexual harassment. I’m sure that’s a very, very broad and simplistic definition of feminism during the latter part of the 20th century, but as a generalization, I feel like that is consistent with what I have read. Since the 1990′s, modern feminist ideals have begun to acknowledge groups of women that had not been readily seen or recognized within feminist circles by being more actively involved with gender and race issues. All of this in the name of being inclusive to all women. ALL WOMEN? The above wise-crack about Sarah Palin, really upset me. She may not have the same political outlook at many feminists, but how many thousands of women are you completely neglecting to acknowledge as a movement when you exclude conservative viewpoints from feminism? You actually further the misunderstandings about what feminism is and is not (which clearly from the article even Lady Gaga seems to have) when you line feminism up strictly with a liberal political agenda without considering what a powerful force feminism could potentially be if we could somehow all come together under a common aim of VALUING EVERY WOMAN rather than only women that represent a liberal political agenda.

  11. Sarah Palin only briefly ID’d herself as a feminist, then quickly backtracked. http://www.feministing.com/archives/011827.html. By the way, how feminist/not feminist do you think Gaga’s new video with Beyonce is? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQ95z6ywcBY

  12. @ Electrik Emily: I love the term “phallogocentric thinking.” Completely true. Certainly brings up the question: If someone identifies as everything that defines “feminist” in its many and varied definitions, but does not call themselves “feminist,” are they in fact a feminist?

    To which I ask, do we need to necessarily label Gaga as feminist or not? It reminds me of Johnny Weir refusing to label his sexuality. What’s the necessity in doing so?

    Slightly related, love Ms. Gaga.

  13. Nearly 40 years ago feminism meant women and men who were “for women”. At that time it meant fighting for jobs that were closed to women. Women are now in many of those jobs b/c we fought for those jobs. It meant changing the images of women in the media. Today women and men are imaged in varying ways in the media but still stereotyping lingers. It meant fighting for equality of wages…a battle not yet won. Today we see the plight of women all over the world = in need of support from other women and from feminist men. The ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) in the USA has still not passed. Women are not yet equal under the law in the United States of America.
    Is Lady Gaga a feminist? Maybe she is just a smart business woman who has taken advantage of the openings we forged nearly 40 years ago, and the openings forged by our foremothers in the struggle from 1840 thru 1920. We fought for equal rights then, but settled for the right to vote. We have so much farther to go. Before you can define yourself or anyone else as a feminist you need to learn about women’s history. Will you find it in books written predominately by men? Ask yourself what you really know about the struggles of your sisters and foremothers to get you where you are today.

  14. Find the book “Century of Struggle” if you can. I don’t remember the author’s name and I gave my copy away many years ago.

  15. Noelle hits the nail on the head.

  16. This is a great article, and I totally appreciate it. But “hermaphrodite” is both dated, inaccurate, and considered pretty offensive to a lot of people with intersex conditions.

  17. @Joanna – you’re right about the word. In the defense of Noelle Williams, “hermaphrodite” is the word used in all the press about Lady Gaga. So while it is not an accurate description of intersex people, it is an accurate description of the rumors. The full quote is great:
    “I’m not embarrassed—I sold 4 million records in 6 months; I’m not embarrassed about anything. I think more than anything, it’s society’s reaction to a strong woman. The idea that we equate strength with men and a penis is a symbol of male strength, you know, it’s just what it is. But like I said, I’m not offended at all, but my vagina might be a little bit upset.”

  18. @camipco Love the quote!

  19. P.S. Just wrote a huge blog post about Lady Gaga. I basically look at the new telephone video from a feminist perspective. Check it out if you want! Just click my name above this post! Thanks!

  20. I read this with much interest as everytime I hear/see Lady Gaga I think this. Most of the time, I think that actually she’s not, but then I see the quotes that she gives in full and change my mind. However, having spent the last while talking to girls/young women’s groups I realised that actually regardless of how we, as adult women, interpret her, the way girls interpret her is very important. We all know we live in a raunch culture right? and we all know that Lady Gaga is rarely ( if ever) quoted in full so her desire to re-interpret, explore and poke fun at sexism and female sexuality is never properly reported.(this is not down to her obv) girls and young women do see her as a role model, because she is sexy and fun, not because she opens up dialogue on what it means to be a sexual (as opposed to sexy) woman. I think the last video was a check list of all the sexist imagery we see in raunch culture, and without a feminist interpretation of it, most girls see her as beautiful and sexy. But sexy for boys and men. I’m from the UK, and we’ve just had a report out by the Home Office about the sexualisation of children. One of the findings was how girls aspirations are shaped by their “desire to be desired”. Lady Gaga absolutely feeds into this culture. So for me, it’s really about the context in which we interpret popular culture-including Lady Gaga, and this goes back to the questions who controls the media and our social discourses? why is she (white, blonde, slim) given a platform as opposed to other musicians?

  21. Annie Shields: There a two-ish distinct questions I have about what you’re saying: 1) Who gets to decide who is and isn’t a feminist? And what is or isn’t feminist? 2) Does not identifying as a feminist somehow invalidate one’s participation in and contribution to feminism?

  22. Great post, Noelle, and terrific dialogue via the comments. You’ve all raised valid and important points. The questions Feminist Review raises above are complex and worth discussing further (new post?)

  23. Lady GaGa
    is a very talented composer and performer, but as her interview with Larry King revealed, she is addicted to the attention and fame and thus all things material and meaningless!

  24. heatheraurelia13 says:

    I feel your same confusion….

  25. Dusttracks says:

    I wouldn't use too much brain energy trying to decipher what a woman who named herself after baby sounds says. gaga? she's got all her fans and critics speaking like babies. infantalization of the masses. nonsense.

  26. Personally, I think that refusing to identify herself as an iron-clad feminist makes Lady Gaga's unique brand of feminism the most effective.

    It is sad, but true, that many people instantly close up when they hear someone is an activist. As it is now, only feminists really recognize that Lady Gaga is a feminist and that her music and videos and entire image is breaking into the mainstream to alter our perceptions of gender and reality. Everyone else is just confused.

    Women who are uneducated about sexism in modern society are being subconsciously empowered by seeing a strong, independent woman who writes her own music and says/does whatever the hell she wants regardless of societies gender mores . If she became an overt feminist, many women would instantly be turned off because of false perceptions about what feminism entails (aka, "Oh, please! Women can work and wear pants now! None of that is relevant anymore! I don't need to listen to her conspiracy theory bullshit")

    Men (heterosexual specifically), on the other hand, are often made uncomfortable by her and aren't quite sure why, and so can't really justify to themselves or others how they feel about her. Her embracing of the grotesque to screw with societies perceptions of beauty make it hard for them to feel comfortable watching her "just to see her take her clothes off", which is, I always thought, Madonna's major pitfall in creating a truly revolutionary feminist movement in pop culture (after all her work at creating an independent and strong image to a lot of women and men she was still just a sexy blonde who wore risque clothing and showed off her body). As it is now, Lady Gaga has overtly sexual themes and revealing clothing, which should be a good thing for men just looking to see some skin, but she embeds into them questions about basic social expectations (i.e.the men's clothing is often as revealing and impractical as a woman's, making it difficult for men in our homophobic culture to watch, and the setting surrounding her revealing outfits is rarely sexy in the traditional sense. I can't remember if it was said in this article or another one, but when Madonna did bondage it was sexy, when Lady Gaga does it, it looks like it hurts). But, if they suddenly realize she is a feminist, all the tired old excuses for not liking her would be too easy, "She's ugly, she looks like a man, she can't sing, her videos are weird, no one really acts like that, etc." All these excuses are meaningless attempts to cover up many males discomfort with their power-role in society being challenged, but yet they often seem to do the trick. -.-

    And all this is to say nothing of her career! Would record labels (::coughcoughmostlywhiteheterosexualmencough::) really continue to pump money and advertising into an activist? How long would she last if she openly said, "I am a feminist and everything I am doing is to change social perceptions on gender and sexuality"? She would be done overnight.

    As much as I would like for there to be a pop-act that can be thoroughly enjoyed by feminists, we don't need it. It is the uneducated masses of people who blindly consume pop culture art/music/media/images/etc. everyday who need to have their perceptions altered. And just like trying to give a kid vitamins, sometimes the only way to get them to take them is to crush them up and put them in ice cream. That is what Lady Gaga is doing to America. She is giving everyone something they know they want (theatricality: a risque, sexual, unique artistic statement that rests just perfectly between art and pop. Don't think, just watch and enjoy the pretty lights and crazy outfits!) and something they don't know they need (Deep philosophical questioning of often unaddressed social ideas). Through symbolism just subtle enough not to cause too much of a stir but overt enough to get our attention she is planting little seeds in the masses minds that will hopefully grow into bigger trends and eventually greater changes.

    But if she isn't the fame monster that she is right now, being blindly idolized by millions of fans, none of that can happen. I don't know if she is doing it on purpose or not, but whatever she is doing, it is working and it is freaking ingenious.

    • Absolutely brilliant commentary, Boosh! It's not often that I read things in comment forums that I feel compelled to repeat or share, but you have terrific insight into the psychology behind fame and feminism. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and even though I had not really thought about it that way, I completely agree with everything you said. :)

  27. This is a really interesting and well-written post, Noelle! I do recognize the dilemma, and being what some might term a 'little monster,' I had a temporary moment of doubt. But then I realized that although Lady Gaga said she was not a feminist, everything she has done in her career has been to encourage empowerment among women while deconstructing long-held misconceptions about sexuality.

    We should also keep in mind that her audience (the male interviewer who spoke in surprisingly sexist undertones) was attempting to paint her as the stereotype of the raging, man-hating "feminist" that has been popularized by the testesterone-pumped egos of older, media-savvy, straight, white men. In my opinion, when she said she was not a feminist, she was answering it in the interviewer's context. As in, "I'm not a [man-hating] feminist. I hail men, I love men…" Right before that confusing statement, she described perfectly the nature of sexism in the music industry, and made it obvious that she did not agree by both her tone and her ending statement: "I'm just a rockstar."

  28. Also, your post included the second part of that interview, but you can also find the first part on YouTube as well: type "Lady Gaga sex fits perfectly with everything" into the search engine, and the first video that loads is the other part of that interview–in that one, she elaborates on her ideas about sex, and makes it extremely clear that she beyond her years in recognizing the nonsensical views that men hold about sex. She is, contrary to the opinions of some, very intelligent and keenly aware of how people perceive her. Put simply, she is a marketing genius.

    Anyway, I can't wait for her new album Born This Way, and hopefully her new music will clarify just how she feels about these issues. :)

  29. A woman who glorifies the penis as a symbol of power is not feminist. She said herself that she strapped on a fake one at shows to symbolize empowerment. That is NOT feminism!! Acting male to produce female empowerment is completely contradictory. So you have to act or be equipped like a man, to as a woman be considered emancipated/powerful? What is it with women these days. Emulating strap-ons, strippers and male-like behavior to “feminism”, as if imitating men has anything to do with being treated equal. Equal rights do not start with pretending to be in with the guys.

  30. Penelope says:

    How can someone who sells her product (music) by using sex a feminist? Her videos rely on showing lots of skin and wearing titillating outfits. At the end of the day, whatever she says, her message is the same as everyone else’s these days: As a young woman in entertainment, I am willing to do whatever it takes to get ahead. I personally don’t find her sincere, but mainly, think about the mixed messages she’s sending to (already) confused young girls in this internet age: sex sells, so sell your body. In my era, we had Annie Lennox, Tina Turner, Madonna… women who chose to be sexy but also intelligent about their image.

  31. I’m pretty sure deciding whether or not Lady Gaga is feminist or not will never be anyone’s decision to make but hers and from that video it sounds like she made it. As unfortunate of a decision it is the only thing we can do is hope that she decides to change her mind.

  32. Roxanne Hiatt says:

    I think she is a feminist. You don’t have to identify as one to be one. She stands for the ideals of being a feminist-creating a sub-culture that is based on being proud of your identity. I think she is a role model for young girls to be whoever they want to be despite what others might think of them. Her anti-conformity shows that young girls can fight against our patriarchal society. Also, you can love men and be a feminist.

  33. Part of what accounts for the Gaga conundrum, though, is her very unwillingness to own up to allegiances and offer support for any brand of -ism. As Williams says here, “There are hints of David Bowie, Prince and Madonna in the way she plays with sexuality, but while Gaga acknowledges these similarities she wants it to be clear she is something entirely her own.”

    Likewise, there are also hints of “reinventing the feminist wheel,” here (a nod to Katha Pollitt). Why go it alone? Dogged proclamations of individuality only serve to discredit or disfigure the legacies of those who came first, people who also worked for gender equality. David Bowie? Prince? Madonna? These are all figures who served, in the 1970s and 80s, to explode and revise expectations of gender and sexuality, so why not credit them?

    Whether or not she is a feminist, Lady Gaga seems to content to exist in a vacuum apart from feminist thought and history — hardly “progressive” behavior, in my book.

  34. Michelle says:

    I find it interesting that feminism is based on equal opportunity, yet Gaga turns to age discrimination when selecting her crew. I think this once again, shows how Gaga is contradicting in her messages. Is she trying to make a statement, but then doesnt act to support it behind the camera’s? I think that although she may find feminism appealing, being the center of the media makes her deviate from being a true feminist. Its not just about what you say and the image you portray, its about living your life according to the movement’s values.

  35. Wyatt D'Emilia says:

    I’d say that in terms of being a woman who seemingly does whatever she wants, regardless of preconceived gender notions or norms, she could be considered, if not a feminist, a definite positive female role model. I don’t think a lack of hostility towards men would make her less of a feminist; instead, it could show a more modern approach to feminism, more third wave than second, which looks to bridge the ideological gap between men and women rather than expanding it, looking for similarities and unity rather than dwelling on differences.

  36. “With her deliberate juxtaposition of conventional platinum blonde beauty and fashionably ugly costumes, she toys with conventional rules of attractiveness.”

    I think that the good thing about Gaga is that she expands the rules of attractiveness for a woman. Compared to her musical counterparts such as Keisha or Katy Perry, Gaga defies the media’s conventional womanly beauty with something that trends more toward masculine qualities. Sure, her weight and hair color are comparable. But like this article points out, her ugly costumes and unique facial features and makeup draw her away from the stereotypical idea of attractiveness.

    However, within her strength lies her weakness. Gaga tries to be ironic by wearing overly sexual costumes. However, with Gaga’s main audience being between the ages of 6 and 20, it is unclear if these metaphors will fly over their heads. In fact, we can be almost certain that anyone below the age of 12 will not recognize the nuances. To them, Gaga is probably just another oversexualized image of a female body that they might attempt to be like in their teens.

  37. Charlotte says:

    The name ‘Lady Gaga’ is an interesting juxtaposition. The word, ‘lady’ suggests sophistication and composure; in comparison to this the phrase ‘Gaga’ which is more of a ‘loose’ term draws upon connotations of being crazy, irrational and excessively enthusiastic. These two words together suggests confusion; maybe allowing us to question what women today are really like in opposition to how society views them?

    Is Lady Gaga a feminist? It’s clear from the speech above that she believes in equal rights and for me that defines the true meaning behind feminism. Even if she refuses to be labelled a feminist, Gaga is still distributing feminist ideas through her songs, alter ego: Jo Calderone, performances, costumes and interviews. However, I think the idea of being categorized doesn’t appeal to Lady Gaga as a performer as she seems to emphasize the idea of originality and individualism. There are also many negative connotations that she may fear surrounding the term feminist that could influence her fans and career. I don’t think Gaga’s main aim is to distribute the idea of feminism to the younger generation nevertheless, she is subconsciously (if not consciously) influencing her fans and drawing their attention to the concept of equal rights. If a younger generation see’s lady gaga on the television this is then viewed as an ok way to act/ be/look as a woman in the public eye.

    Overall, Gaga is discretely playing with gender roles and is ultimately helping the advancement of feminism even if she is not addressing the issue directly. Nevertheless, I think she should step forward and identify herself as a feminist in order to ensure the progression of equal rights if this is what she truly believes in; mass equal’s power, so she should get of her pretentious high horse and join the fight for equality.

  38. Anna Jole says:

    I think that the word “feminist” has been evolving and still is to this day. I think that Lady Gaga’s perception of being a feminist is true in that there should be equality of the sexes but I feel that it is hard for her to fall under one category or a label. Since Lady Gaga did admit to being a slight feminist as you mentioned toward the end, I personally don’t think that she is a feminist because her ideals seem to be contradicting to one another. One moment she says she hails men but the next she talks about being a strong woman. I just don’t think she likes being pinned down under a name.

  39. Based on this article and what I have personally experienced in regards to Lady Gaga through the media and her music I do not think Lady Gaga is a true feminist. It is apparent that many of her ideals and beliefs align with some of the core feminist beliefs, for example describing her aesthetic as androgynous is very feminist like in that it suggests gender/sex should not be what a person is judged based on and that it should be removed from the equation so that we are all just viewed as individuals. Other hot feminist topics that she speaks out on also include taking control over ones sex life by practicing safe sex and accepting all sexual orientations, as well as supporting strong women and/or those who choose to focus on their career. However, despite the messages she conveys the fact that she does not identify herself as a feminist and her reasons for not doing so reflect the confusion about feminist ideals and what being a feminist really means seen in the younger generations of women. Whatever her reason for not identifying as a feminist that act in and of itself is very unfeminist, and to me is what separates her from true feminist status.

  40. I think that Lady Gaga is a feminist. This is especially apparent in how she portrays her sexuality. She doesn’t see it as something to be ashamed of. She is also a successful musician as well as independent. I think her avoidance of the feminist label carries over from the post-feminist backlash of the 80s.

  41. Even if she does not want the label attached to her persona, Gaga is a feminist based on her actions as a public figure. She is a huge supporter of the LGBTQ community, especially of teens who are bullied. I don’t see how someone so supportive of treating people of diverse sexualities equally could not be a feminist. She is also very sex-positive, which seems to be a more defining feature of feminism today. Lady Gaga just appears to be against the stereotypical definition of feminism. It’s so her fans think she’s a “cool” feminist. She is, afterall, trying to sell herself and her image.

  42. Allison C says:

    I absolutely think that Lady Gaga is a feminist. While she may reject the label, as many women of our generation do, she has undoubtedly brought feminist ideals of inclusivity and acceptance to the mainstream and exposed a huge audience of young people to such ideas. As a woman who does accept and embrace the label of “feminist,” I am sometimes annoyed at her seeming rejection of it. But in the end, her widespread appeal at least somewhat depends on her rejection of exclusive labels, so I don’t think you can’t blame her for it. Actions speak louder than words, and her actions mark her as a definite feminist in my book.

  43. I think she is a major feminist. Why does being a feminist mean you have to bash men or not like them… or even think they are wonderful? She does make straight men uncomfortable. She does do things a man would do, while flaunting her sexuality. She sings so much about Catholicism and how it views women. Singing the part of Mary Magdalen in ‘Judas’, while calling her what religious men used to call Mary Magdalen… a whore. She sings and puts all the stereotypes of women out there and sings about them. She puts the Catholic, female bashing, church on her altar and makes them look at how they portray women in the Bible. I can’t think of a bigger feminist at this point. Equality means just that. She can love men and yet, point out their flaws throughout history. She makes men out to be wolves, monsters and heart breakers in her songs. She calls them out. “That boy is a monster, he ate my heart”… Any woman who burns a man in a bed after he buys her at an auction, as is done in the video, ‘Bad Romance’… is totally a feminist. She flaunts her sexuality and then puts a twist on it, making straight men wonder if they are man enough to take it.

  44. LADY GAGA IS 100% A FEMINIST! PROOF http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8skCakDm1sM that’s why i love her so much ♥

  45. Farthest thing from a feminist, you want a feminist, look at Gloria Steinhem, not this trash

  46. I can’t believe this writer never mentioned Jack Halberstam’s book Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender, and the End of Normal (2012). Check it out.

    http://chronicle.com/blognetwork/tenuredradical/2012/12/gaga-feminism-an-interview-with-j-jack-halberstam-part-i/

Trackbacks

  1. [...] was happy to recently read that she dropped the f-word to the LA Times and self-identified as a bit of a budding feminist as a [...]

  2. [...] It does bother the lefty gals that new icon of sexual freedom has a rather bourgeoisie opinion. Will anyone else join their bandwagon? Will this put an end to all the ” is Lady Gaga is a feminist icon” posts? [...]

  3. [...] Magazine, for instance, recently wrote that Gaga’s “immense popularity and youthful, outspoken image could be the perfect set-up for a [...]

  4. [...] Williams, Noelle (March 11, 2010). “Is Lady Gaga a Feminist or Isn’t She?”. Ms. Magazine (Liberty Media for Women, LLC). [...]

  5. [...] But aside from purely expressing herself in her music, what I love about Kate Nash is that she’s also willing to be very frank about her feminist beliefs in words. In the BBC video linked to above, the interviewer asks her if she is a feminist, and she responds, frankly but with a twinge of sarcasm: “Yes, I’m a feminist, and I think everybody should be—because feminism is just about equality of the sexes, which is something we all believe in, don’t we?” Both she and the interviewer laugh, I believe because the issue of feminism is clearly more complex than that, but her point comes across loud and clear—she, unlike many female artists today, has no problem labeling herself as a feminist. And that is something not to be belittled, because many celebrities have trouble and negative associations with calling themselves feminists–take Lady Gaga, for example. [...]

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