Lady Gaga's Ambiguous Feminism

Is she or isn't she?

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Ever since Lady Gaga stormed the airwaves with her synth-pop super-hit Poker Face, she's been an irresistible enigma to culture critics. Onstage she's a mess of garish wigs, bizarre makeup, and revealing space-age garb. Her lyrics and performances are highly sexual. Offstage, she's a hero to some gay and lesbian activists because of her avowed bisexuality. But to some feminists, it's not clear whether she's advancing or regressing the feminist cause. This week, Chloe Angyal sided with Gaga, calling her "feminism's unlikely champion." But many take issue with the pop icon's hyper-sexualized persona.

  • A New Kind of Feminist, writes Chloe Angyal at Splice Today: "Lady Gaga doesn't care if men find her attractive or not. She's not courting male attraction or approval. And in a culture where we're used to women getting publicly near-naked for the sole purpose of turning men on, we simply do not know how to handle that."
  • So True! nods Ann Powers in the L.A. Times: "Her frank talk about how female artists aren't expected to write their own songs or about how young women are afraid to ask for what they need from their sexual partners inches her toward a new articulation of feminism."
  • Lady Gaga Represents a False Feminism, writes Whitney Teal at "Women have traded one set of feminine stereotypes for another, gaining few instances of real power in the process. I love the originality of people like Lady Gaga (and other quirky girls that have come before her), but I don't think that my generation should confuse the right to amble about sans pants with the right to be an equal person. And in that regard, we still have a lot of work to do."
  • She Herself Disowned Feminism! exclaims Erica Landau at the Miami New Times. She references an interview in which Gaga said, "I'm not a feminist. I, I, I hail men, I love men. I celebrate American male culture, beer, bars, and muscle cars." Needless to say, it didn't sit well with Landau. "Gaga wouldn't be where she is without the feminists who crashed down barriers regarding sexual repression, choice of profession, and self-determination, does she really want to reduce American males to beer, bars, and muscle cars? And since when do feminists hate beer?" Landau writes.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.