Feminism Is Still A Dirty Word

I have made no secret of my love for Lady Gaga. And this has not changed any. I still love the woman like crazy. Her music is amazing and makes statements that other people are afraid to make, she pushes boundaries and makes people question things, and she is nothing but who she wants to be all the time. I think that’s fantastic. She also says some really pertinent things regarding double standards in the industry and in the world. Therefore, it was no surprise to me to see an article asking if Lady Gaga was a feminist icon. I can see a lot of ways in which she is. But then I came across this clip.

In the beginning of the clip, she makes a lot of great points about double standards in the industry. She says:

“If I was a guy, and i was sitting here with a cigarette in my hand and grabbing my crotch and talking about how i make music because i love fast cars and fucking girls, you’d call me a rock star. but when i do it in my music and in my videos, because i;m a female, because i make pop music, you’re judgmental. you say that it is distracting. i’m just a rock star.”

I think this is an excellent point regarding double standards and the way men and women are treated. About how men can behave one way and be applauded for it, or it’s just accepted, but when women do it, they need to explain themselves, or they’re reasons are questions. 

But then the interviewer asks her another questions. “Are you also a feminist?” And here is where what she says maybe isn’t so great. She says:

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

And this is not a problem with Lady Gaga, as much as it is a problem with the way the word “feminism” is still perceived in our society and the negative connotations that it holds. The statements that Lady Gaga makes in the first quote I posted are 100% feminist in nature. She believes that men and women should be treated equally and be allowed to behave the same way. That if something is okay for one gender that it should be okay for the other. These are feminist beliefs and concepts.

But she balks at being called a feminist. And her reasoning is the same one that so many people give. The misconception about feminism is that it’s about man-hating and bra burning. And that’s not it at all. Feminists don’t hate men, they just celebrate equality and condemn misogyny. These are things that Lady Gaga does all the time in her interviews. She constantly talks about what it’s like to be a woman in the industry and all of the expectations that come along with it, and how it’s different for women than it is for men. 

But to her, and to so many others, that’s not what feminism is about. “Feminism” is still a dirty word in this society. And until people begin to understand that it’s not about hating men, burning bras, or becoming a dyke, it will remain one.

This entry was posted in Caterwauling About The Patriarchy, Culture Goes Pop, Griping and Kvetching and Bitching, Lady Gaga. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  1. moresexchocolateandredlipstick
    Posted December 16, 2009 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    I want to write a piece about this for my uni paper, because I think it's a really important issue. So many people say 'I'm not a feminist but…' and then condemn inequality. Well, duh, that makes you a feminist.

    One of my male friends was completely shocked when I told him he was a feminist. Well, either you're a feminist or a misogynist – there is no middle ground in my opinion. There are more *active* feminists and people who make feminism more central to their lives, but either you believe women should be equal or you don't – simple as that really.

    This was a great post Britni :) And I recently read that since that interview Lady Gaga has called herself a feminist (wish I could remember where I read it!!) which can only be a good thing!

    —Amy xxxx

  2. Sexy Sixty
    Posted December 16, 2009 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    'Feminist,' like so many other words becomes a label that evokes a number of images in the mind of the person hearing the term applied to another person. And like so many other labels, the associated perceptions may have some basis in reality, but will inevitably begin to erode as you apply the label to any specific person and then get to know that person.

    Personally, I have no negative connotations for the label 'feminist.' I would say virtually all of my closest female friends would use that label for themselves if asked. My mother was a front-line fighter for the Equal Rights Amendment in NYS back in the early 80's and my sister has been almost militant in her positions. So maybe my experiences with the label and with the people so-labeled are not ordinary. Perhaps having emerged from the late 60's age of hippies and fighting the establishment, I have a different perspective.

    To me, the issue is that many value laden words, such as 'feminist' (and I could probably create a long list of similar labels), are merely used as code to promote misconceptions, lies, and hatred.

  3. voyeur36
    Posted December 16, 2009 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    I must be a feminist as well. I think women have the right to do what they want with their bodies and not be judged for it. When people applaud a guy for sleeping around but castigate a woman for doing the same is just one example.

  4. alana
    Posted December 16, 2009 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    We suffer from the same problem with the term “pro-life.” More and more people claim to be pro-life even they’re actually pro-choice. It baffles the mind and it’s something that needs to be taken seriously.

    And to be fair, in a recent interview Lady Gaga embraced the term “feminist.” It’s just sad that there’s this learning curve we all have to go through in which we accept that feminism is not a bad thing. I used to shy away from the word myself and I’ve even read comments here where people (who, from what I can see, are actually feminists themselves) paint feminism in a negative light. It sucks, but this is something that can definitely be changed (remember how horrible being a “liberal” was just a few years ago?).

  5. WannabeVirginia W.
    Posted December 16, 2009 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    This is a constant struggle for me, because I use to identify as a feminist. I rallied for the cause, I wrote to advocate for equality until I really examined what was happening around me. The women that identify themselves as feminist are the ones that judge other women mercilessly and oppress other women shamelessly. I am very much disillusioned and heartbroken. The first and second wave of feminism was the catalyst for some of the doors that have opened for women and I find myself facing women who shut these doors that have been opened by the trail blazers. I would not want to be called a feminist not because of the societal misconceptions, but I am ashamed to be called one because of the other women that pass judgment and oppress other women. Call me a humanist instead.

  6. champagneandbenzedrine
    Posted December 16, 2009 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    Great post, Brit – but GaGa's not the problem. It's the minority of feminists – or, the 'so-called' feminists – who perpetuate the ridiculous 'feminist' dogma that earns the whole feminist movement its much derided reputation.

    Much like the far right and the idiot left, movements are often condemned by the actions and beliefs of their most extreme members.

  7. Realiti
    Posted December 16, 2009 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

    Great Post!!!

  8. Another Suburban Mom
    Posted December 16, 2009 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

    I am a feminist. I am also feminine. They are not exclusive concepts and I wish people would stop seeing it as such.

  9. Tessier Ashpoole
    Posted December 17, 2009 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    I am male. I am not a feminist. I am not a misogynist. I believe in equal rights, not pushing one gender/race/religion/orientation's agenda over another. Therein lies the problem with so many labeled groups….they pursue a self-serving agenda, not equality. Certainly a notable percentage of the members of said groups want equality, but the zealots that inevitably end up running the show serve only to destroy the group's credibility. Hell, the same could be said of our two major political parties.

  10. Paul
    Posted December 17, 2009 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    I could not agree more with this post, you have literally hut the nail on the head perfectly. Well done.

  11. alana
    Posted December 18, 2009 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    The problem, for me at least, is that we distance ourselves from the people we don’t agree with instead of trying to create any kind of dialog. Of course some feminists are ass hats. Some people are ass hats. But instead of shying away from the word “feminist” because of that, I think we would do better to be vocal about our differences and remind people that not every feminist thinks the same way. By doing so we would welcome more people into the fold who initially felt excluded because of their views on a certain subject. At least that’s how I feel about it.

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