Feminism Goes Gaga Again-Or Does Quiet Riot Girl?

Posted: September 17, 2010 in Feminism, Uncategorized
Tags: ,

Is Lady Gaga A Feminist Icon?  screeches Kira Cochrane* in The Guardian (sorry but I imagine she is a screecher).

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2010/sep/17/lady-gaga-feminist-icon

I sincerely hope not. Feminism does not deserve such an exciting and imaginative diva to represent her dowdy and puritanical aims and objectives. Especially when Ms Cochrane* splutters and stumbles her way through an attempt to deconstruct Gaga that is more pedestrian and much-less heartfelt and delightfully deranged than Ms Paglia’s ‘She is no Madonna’ rant a few days previously. ‘Femininity is a sham’ announces Cochrane. Oh. Thanks for telling us. Here was I thinking we were all ‘natural’ women, expressing our inner goddesses via Mary Janes and Harem pants every day.  Maybe if she had said ‘gender is a sham’ I would have sat up and taken notice of her mumblings. But she didn’t. Feminism relies on essentialist notions of gender, on the ‘male’ v ‘female’ dichotomy, on women as victims and men as oppressors.  This sham is the bread-and-butter of feminist journalists like Cochrane. 

Before I start screeching myself, here to calm me down is another Cochrane, a Mister this time, writing about Quentin Crisp, a man of great beauty who showed us what a sham gender is. And one who could outwit and outcamp both Kira and, for my money, the Lady of Gaga herself.

http://culturecatch.com/literary/quentin-crisp

*N.B. On re-reading this and the article, I realise I am suffering from a severe case of post-feminist-itis which has rendered me incapable of reasoned analysis of writings by feminists, particularly those who write for the Guardian. I hope I am recovered of my faculties in due course.

Comments
  1. Mark says:

    Aww, you’re a tad unkind to Ms Cochrane, who made some interesting points. Ms Freeman deserved more of a spanking for her bitchy jealousy. Yes, the ‘feminist icon’ bit is missing the point somewhat. Gaga is subverting, visually, aurally, but especially visually, our ideas of what it means to be human. Of all the people she’s been accused of ‘ripping off’ Leigh Bowery is the one that no one mentions but seems most pertinent.

  2. True. But I have no rationality when it comes to feminists in the Guardian. I am the real screecher round here. I should not even write about them, really, until I gain some distance… how long will it take me??

    Leigh Bowery is an excellent reference point. I totally see what you mean!

  3. redpesto says:

    Leigh Bowery? Good call. As for Cochrane, she’s caught between a desperate hope that Gaga’s sticking it to The Man, and cursing her for showing too much flesh than is proper in the fight against the patriarchy. Me? I just see the same mistakes feminists made over Madonna being made all over again, and which they nearly made over the Spice Girls…right up until they went straight to number one.

  4. I wasn’t paying much attention to the feminists when the Spice Girls were big. I wish I could ignore them (the feminists) now! But feminism is a scab I can’t stop picking at!

  5. Turns out that Kira got a lot of her material for this piece from a phone conversation with the uber-feminist Melissa McEwan. If I’d read the article properly I could have demolished it much more successfully. The McEwan influence is everywhere now I look. Saying her costumes are about ‘consent’ relates to McEwan’s obsession with how women are under constant threat of rape by men. And Gaga is shielding herself from being molested… and to have this little coterie of feminists to ring up when you are filing copy. I just don’t like it one bit. It’s Palin’s ‘cackle of rads’…

    http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2010/09/on-lady-gaga.html

  6. Kimboosan says:

    “Feminism does not deserve such an exciting and imaginative diva to represent her dowdy and puritanical aims and objectives…Feminism relies on essentialist notions of gender, on the ‘male’ v ‘female’ dichotomy, on women as victims and men as oppressors.”

    *sighhhhhh* Your comment above is inclusive of ALL feminists, including me and any feminist who might agree with your ideas and ideals. You refuse to qualify who you are talking about (“mainstream feminism” would work; is that so hard a hurdle to leap?) and so I sit here, hurt and thinking, “I’m a feminist but I don’t think like that, so obviously I’m not a part of this discussion.”

    It’s thinking like this that continues to ghettoize us all, this insistence on “dump labeling” under one banner or the other. I’m so damn sick and tired of fighting the people whom I *agree* with over the right to own my identity without it constantly being torn down due to political convenience. I am a feminist; I wish to hell you would respect that as much as you expect me to respect the fact that you are not a feminist. But you don’t, because it’s *easier* to just bitch about “those feminists!” than allow for complexity in a debate, much less a label.

    Honestly I’m not furiously angry or anything, just sad.

  7. Dear Kim. You are right. That is why this post script appears at the end of my post…

    ‘*N.B. On re-reading this and the article, I realise I am suffering from a severe case of post-feminist-itis which has rendered me incapable of reasoned analysis of writings by feminists, particularly those who write for the Guardian. I hope I am recovered of my faculties in due course.’

    If I claim insanity, will you forgive me?

    You are an amazing person from what I can tell, and I think you may have more integrity than me. I do generalise. But I think feminism is a ‘thing’ in and of itself, regardless of the good people who identify with it. It is a dogma that I disagree with at quite a basic level. it is there in the word- ‘feminism’… representing the feminine. the female. I think anyone who rejects that ‘female’ aspect of feminism really might be better off not being a feminist. But I know in saying that I sound judgemental and probably a little deranged.

    Your gaga quiet riot girl,

    Elly xx

    • Kimboosan says:

      I love your post-script! Because we all have our post-SOMETHING-itis to deal with, and I know difficult that type of subjectivity can be.

      Your criticism of the very word “feminist” as relating to “the feminine” is crucial, I think – I think it must stand as a historical signifier, because “women’s rights” were and are just that. But as a symbol of gender activism (?-hell I don’t even know what to call it) it is wholly inadequate. I tend to fall back on “queer” but that is exclusive of straight progressive women, just as “feminism” is exclusive of male and intersexed people. The danger is falling into a definition that is so broad as to be meaningless (“progressive”) or so specific that it constitutes a demographic of maybe three people (“kimboosanism”).😉

      Of course the ideal is a world without labels – but I simply don’t think the human brain is wired that way. Like Jefferson I will cut and paste together my own version of the sacred text, only in my case it isn’t the Bible but Webster’s Unabridged.

    • Jonathan says:

      QRG: I’m currently touring your archives and just want to stop at this post for a moment. Kimboosan says what I feel here:

      >>*sighhhhhh* Your comment above is inclusive of ALL feminists, including me and any feminist who might agree with your ideas and ideals. You refuse to qualify who you are talking about (“mainstream feminism” would work; is that so hard a hurdle to leap?) and so I sit here, hurt and thinking, “I’m a feminist but I don’t think like that, so obviously I’m not a part of this discussion.”<<

      I dunno, QRG. Perhaps it's because our experiences of feminism are rather different? From reading your blogs (including QRG Elly) I see you've grown up in the mainstream of UK feminism. Arrgghh. Thirty years of banging your head against that. I can understand why you became disillusioned.

      But for me feminism is not the entrenched career feminists of the Guardian and suchlike. It's the American lesbian, queer, gender variant, femme, trans, leather, SM, sex positive, etc feminists I've spent years reading: Dorothy Allison, Pat Califia, Minnie Bruce Pratt, Leslie Feinberg, Amber Hollibaugh, Joan Nestle, Judith Halberstam, Jewelle Gomez, Carol Queen, Helen Boyd, Gayle Rubin, Tristan Taormino …

      Yes, I have problems with some of the things some feminists say – indeed, a lot of the things you highlight in your posts. But as long as the people above can still call themselves feminists, I can't and won't accept that feminism be discarded as "a ‘thing’ in and of itself". Sorry.

      • that’s fine Jonathan. I don’t think I have asked everyone to give up their precious ideology. But i have given it up and I am glad I have!

        Thanks for reading the archives I appreciate it.

        • Jonathan says:

          “give up their precious ideology” – an awesome reply – lol. You’ve managed to dismiss not only my comment, but the whole of feminism and everyone involved with it in just five words.

          Regarding which, referring to another comment lower down: “I do sometimes refer to ‘victim feminism’ but I think I have problem with feminism in general.”

          Seemingly so. Perhaps that refusal to distinguish is why you hardly have any dialogue with women here anymore – because most of the women who would and do agree with you on a lot of things, such as Kimboosan above, tend generally to be feminists as well.

          Or am I wrong there? And does it matter anyway? I dunno.

          • yes Kimboosan and I fell out over my blanket rejection of ‘her precious ideology’. why can’t feminist women talk to non-feminist women?

            I don’t know.

            There are plenty of smart women commenters at QRG HQ maybe more men though. Perhaps because I often focus on masculinity and many women refuse to engage with that subject in a positive way?

          • Jonathan says:

            Feminist women can’t always talk to other feminist women😉

            As for non-feminist women (assuming that means you), a couple of reasons spring to mind:

            The sort of feminist women who, for instance, ban you from commenting on their blogs mostly don’t engage. They talk to themselves. Even in the blog world they generally don’t go on other people’s blogs, even to slag them off. They do that by posting on their own blogs, and circulating their views on other blogs, within an insular, separatist blog culture. And that’s fine. It’s their space. And separatism has its value – up to a point.

            Other feminist women won’t engage, I’d suggest, because your position is not non-feminist but anti-feminist – and this dominates your current discourse, so that even your discussion of masculinity usually just focuses on various feminists’ decrying of it. There’s no room for them to engage because your own stringent anti-feminist position refuses to engage meaningfully with theirs.

            That’s not to say that what you say isn’t worth saying. It certainly is – especially with the weight usually being on the other side (i.e. in media-feminist misandrist rhetoric). But there’s no real engaging with it because you won’t concede any ground. And, well, that’s fine too. It’s your blog. It’s not really a discussion forum, is it. Okay, I’ll try and refrain from arguing about this any more.

  8. Chris says:

    Well done and deep breath.

    Radcliffe-Richards did a reasonable deconstruction of ‘feminist’ philosophy, although some would say she fell into her own trap.

    Always enjoy your posts.

  9. Thanks Chris. I think I might be joining R-R by falling into my own trap too!

  10. Clarence says:

    Why not call the type of feminism you disagree with “gynocentric” feminism, or “victim”feminism – those are the terms I’ve seen used before.

    As for this video, much as I love the song, I hate the video. Do you want to know why? Because it is nihilistic at its core. Is there any reason for her to murder all those poor people in the diner? In short she plays a psychopathic totally unsympathetic character in this video. I suppose it’s done to impress upon her mostly young audience how cool and tough she is. And of course the ending seems like its out of Thelma and Louise. Do you have any thoughts on this?

  11. well I like nihilism sometimes and I love Thelma and Louise so I am fine with the viewo.

    I do sometimes refer to ‘victim feminism’ but I think I have problem with feminism in general.

  12. […] news, it becomes a common question, to ask to what extent is such and such a star is a feminist (Quiet Riot Girl, MSNMagazine, Jukebox Heroines, Kira Cochrane)? In this regard, empowerment discourse itself […]

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