Posts Tagged ‘lady gaga’

by Julia

I’ve been dealing a lot this summer with a not-uncommon state of conflict within myself (and with my elders) since graduation from college. A lot of me feels like the woman I write about on my résumé – a woman with a fabulously enriching college experience (in an academic and social sense) who is taking the next >2 months to relax in preparation for law school. A major part of this relaxation involves enjoying my independence. I’m grateful to have relative freedom in terms of how and with whom I spend my time during this transition.

Yet it would be disingenuous to paint this summer (and time in my life) as wholly independent of the opinions and pressures of those around me (in both a concrete and abstract sense). As a feminist in my early 20s, I have an indelible internal drive for achievement in every conceivable sense of the word. A major part of this quest centers on surrounding myself with the experiences, resources, people, and places who can both challenge and fulfill me. When I’m on this drive (which is almost always), I want little to stand in my way. I’m autonomous, god damn it!

This indignation, I’m sure, comes from a place of defense against attack. It is no surprise that woman today – even those of us standing in the wake of the second wave feminists – still face daily obstacles towards achieving autonomy. I’ve recently focused my feminism not so much on the idea of equality (with whom?…I don’t want to be like this), but on that of autonomy, which to me seems like I much more difficult, but ultimately more liberating, goal.

All of this is to say that,despite certainly sensing autonomous adulthood at times, I seem to crumble at the slightest sense of a challenge to my expression of choice. Am I aware that my emotional reaction might be a product of my youth? Sure. But I’m exasperated by constantly being told by those older than me (again, abstraction) that I’m incapable of making a choice – about my body, my relationships, my career – without outside input. At what point do young women cross over from being objects of others’s influence to subjects of our own choices?

As you can imagine, it was with great delight that I stumbled across Nancy Bauer’s new article on the New York Times’s feature, The Stone. This feature highlights modern day issues in a philosophical light, so clearly I’d be following it. But philosophy + feminism + dialectics + generational differences in understanding + Lady Gaga? Yea, I’m there, and then some.

I can’t think of a single category in modern society who wouldn’t benefit from reading this piece (maybe if you never interact with young women and never will…), so seriously, click through. Parents should read this. Partners and friends of young women should read this. Most of all, young women: read this.

In summary, Bauer uses the example of Lady Gaga to explain the phenomenon of post-second wave women. Lady Gaga is fabulously independent, seemingly impervious to outside criticism and speculation, and talented in her own right – not to mention progressive on issues of sexuality. At the same time, Gaga is often scantily dressed, pushing boundaries of “acceptable” entertainment, quite thin, and ultimately highly sexualized. What might seem like another analysis of a pop star’s antics quickly becomes entirely relevant to young women through political theory.

Bauer uses both Hegelian dialectics and Sartre’s philosophy on being-in-itself to explain that human beings at once experience themselves as subjects of their own desires and objects of society’s control. Explaining Sartre, Bauer writes:

On occasion we find ourselves pretending that we’re pure subjects, with no fixed nature, no past, no constraints, no limits.  And at other times we fool ourselves into believing that we’re pure objects, the helpless victims of others’ assessments, our own questionable proclivities, our material circumstances, our biology.

de Beauvoir takes this further by asserting that women experience this split more so than men, and often experience subjectivity in a sexual sense. Simone de Beauvoir also realized, however, that women are able to experience subjectivity without sexual objectification, but it is necessary to “re-describe how things are in a way that competes with the status quo story and leaves us craving social justice and the truly wide berth for self-expression that only it can provide.” This redefinition of the world in which we live requires struggle. Simone “warned that you can’t just will yourself to be free, that is, to abjure relentlessly the temptations to want only what the world wants you to want.”

Bauer stumbles when she asserts that Gaga’s autonomy centers solely on her sexuality. I disagree with Bauer (and others) that young women use solely sexual tactics to advance themselves – there are plenty of other choices that parents and elders do not understand that do not involve oral sex or fishnet stockings. What people of previous generations (and perhaps, all those outside of the experiences of young women) fail to realize is this: the choices that we make – even our mistakes – are self-interpreted as a type of power. Bauer admits:

What’s mind-boggling is how girls are able to understand engaging in it [read: deviance], especially when it’s unidirectional, as a form of power.

Until self-expression – sexual or not – is understood by others not as “mind-boggling” but rather natural behavior for female human beings, young women will continue to struggle against the divide between subjectivity and objectivity, until a separation no longer exists.

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by Julia

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Rush Limbaugh has always represented the epitome of hypocrisy, not to mention anti-feminism at its worst. And pageants aren’t usually a paradigm of feminist values, either. Still, I couldn’t help but be shocked on Saturday night while watching the Miss America pageant with my roommate, when Rush Limbaugh appeared as a judge.

And I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that a man with a clear ideological alignment towards anti-woman anything would  judge “communication” in arguably the only redeeming feature of the pageant: the question and answer category. Immediately, I recalled the anti-gay marriage Carrie Prejean debacle, and envisioned Rush writing zeros down for any contestant who did not espouse similarly conservative views. (Thankfully, a woman of color, Caressa Cameron of Virginia, who chose to talk about HIV/AIDS was crowned the 2010 winner. For what it’s worth.)

But, come on, how could you not be shocked by this?

That’s right. Rush Limbaugh dancing like a fool to Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face“. The same Lady Gaga who is openly bisexual. A bad romance if I ever saw one. And the fist pumping? Really, too many pop culture references for me to handle. Especially from the man who the following day issued this gem of a statement:

LIMBAUGH: Oh, I’m a huge supporter of women. What I’m not a supporter of is liberalism. Feminism is what I oppose, and feminism has led women astray. I love women. I don’t know where all this got started. I love the women’s movement — especially when walking behind it. This idea that I don’t like women is absurd. This is Miss America. And if there’s a Mr. America out there, it’s me.


You know, in case his bizarre antics at the pageant had you forgetting this man’s day job pollutes the airwaves with racist, homophobic, sexist, and otherwise ignorant comments.

So this, dear readers, is me officially not being surprised by anything in the mainstream media, especially when it involved Mr. Limbaugh.

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by Julia and Elizabeth

We apologize for the lack of posting in the last few days; Julia spent a lot of time in the car as she made her return from retirement (aka family vacation in Florida) and Elizabeth has been, well, enjoying winter break in true college student fashion by catching up on sleep.  However, your favorite feminist Gaga-loving duo is reunited for the New Year and bringing you this tab dump:

A Career and a Movement, Summed up in One Word Ellen Goodman’s farewell to her Boston Globe column. Women: how far we’ve come, and how far we have to go.

Ticklish Toad Just watch.

I Have One Question for You There are a lot of other feminist issues in the HCB beyond Stupak.

White Whine Because if you can’t laugh at yourself, who can?

Deconstruct Your Progressive Convictions Food for thought.

Listening to Hey Muscles, I Love You

Consuming truckloads of champagne

Peace out, 2009. It’s been… interesting. Look for lots of updates next week (it’s our New Year’s resolution) and cheers to a happy and healthy 2010!


J. and E.

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by Julia

So as much as I hate to admit it, I’m really into all of the Top Ten Lists at the end of every year. This being the end of a decade, I get even more lists to consume. From feminism to film, I’ve been spending much of the past week dissecting these lists and catching up on the many things I apparently missed these past 10 years.

Still, my favorite lists are those that are music-related. There’s no better way to look back on this ridiculous year than to examine its soundtrack. And so, my contribution to the deluge of lists.

10. In the Flowers – Animal Collective

I’ll break from convention here and put Animal Collective at the bottom of the list. While they remain one of my favorite bands, Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion didn’t last me through the year. Soundtrack to January + February? Sure. Still, an epic album, with its first track, In the Flowers, remaining my favorite.

9. Forever and Always – Taylor Swift

Let’s be real: I have some problems with TSwift, but none too large to deny her a mention on my top ten. Which songs were blasting on repeat this summer as I drove the Beltway? Taylor’s. I also spent the better part of my vacation in San Francisco in the back of a van with my cousin singing Love Story. Forever + Always has a message that everyone can relate to, and it’s so damn catchy! Also, I’m pretty sure Taylor Swift will be the only person to mark this year in the “positive” column, overall.

8. French Navy – Camera Obscura

My Maudlin Career is a great album, and French Navy is its standout track. A timeless melody with a modern, sort of lo-fi twist. Great stuff.

7. Bad Romance – Lady GaGa

I couldn’t possibly write anything regarding 2009 without mentioning Lady GaGa. I think she’s fantastic. How wonderful to have a pop star writing songs that combat heteronormativity (and also taking a real stand for gay rights). I love that she plays into all of the hype and puts on a ridiculous show wherever she goes. She’s the best role model we’ve had for a long time in pop music. Keep on keepin’ on, gaga.

6. Blood Bank – Bon Iver

This song has such a chillingly romantic message, underlined by somber instrumentals. Justin Vernon knows how to write songs for fall/winter, and this one was playing with frequency on blustery days.

5. Chillin’ – Wale ft. Lady GaGa

“PG Chillin’, DC Chillin'”

“Yeaa, they keep sayin’ WHALE but the name’s Wal-ayy, [girls] call me Mr. Never-Wear-the-Same-Thang.”

Yea, that’s pretty much it. Reppin’ DC hard, this was a summer anthem for sure. It touched those of us in College Park, especially.

4. Daylight – Matt & Kim

From the Bacardi commercial, by way of Brooklyn. Matt & Kim rock hard and basically don’t give a fuck. Student Entertainment Events @ UMD brought them to campus in late October, and they put on a fabulous show.

3. Sleepyhead – Passion Pit

From some other commercial, by way of synthesizers. Passion Pit single-handedly kept me awake on my daily commute this summer on Metro. I will never tire of “Sleepyhead.”

2. Stillness is the Move – Dirty Projectors

The Dirty Projectors are one of the most rightly-hyped bands out there. Their combination of stunning vocals and syncopatic instrumentals makes for one hell of an album. Bitte Orca is a classic. I saw the Dirty Projectors at the Black Cat this fall, and their live set did not disappoint. I love this track especially because it really showcases the female vocalists (Amber Coffman, you are epic), but please, do yourselves a favor, and check out the entire album.

1. Rome – Phoenix

There was absolutely no question that Phoenix would top my list. Power pop at its absolute finest. There are a lot of stellar tracks on Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, but “Rome” was my go-to.

Honorable Mentions:

1. Best I Ever Had – Drake

2. Girls and Boys in Love – The Rumble Strips

3. Heads Will Roll – Yeah Yeah Yeahs

4. The Calculation – Regina Spektor

5. Classic Rock in Spring/Freeway in Mind – Kurt Vile

6. While You Wait for the Others – Grizzly Bear

7. Party in the USA – Miley Cyrus

8. Cookin’ Up – Cam’ron

9. Now We Can See – The Thermals

10.Animal – Miike Snow

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Tab Dump

by Julia

Carrie Bradshaw: Feminist Icon? Tracy Clark-Flory breaks down the arguments of Naomi Wolf and Camilla Long, and deems SATC more positive than negative. (guilty pleasure, nonetheless).

Cooking the Books: The Statistical Game behind off-label prescription drug use interesting stuff regarding off-label prescription drug use and how drug corps not-so-secretly encourage it.

Testing, Testing: The New Yorker’s Atul Gawande on the positive side of an incomplete health care plan.

Gender and Math Feminist Philosophers on parental underestimates of their daughter’s math abilities as predictive of less female prevalence in quantitative fields later in life.

listening to: The Replacements’s Let it Be album and Lady GaGa, obvi.

consuming: pineapple and seltzer water

swooning over: my new purchase!! eee!

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