Push(back) at the Intersections: Lady Gaga and Feminism

Up today, the work of Lady Gaga, which is inseparable from Gaga herself since Gaga is a persona. Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta created Gaga as a personality, and it's important to remember that. Lady Gaga is a character.

Gaga is, undeniably, a pop icon. Some interesting things come up in discussions about feminism and Gaga's work. The first is that she is not universally embraced as feminist, and in fact there is rather a lot of heated debate on this topic, as you will find if you enter the words 'Lady Gaga' and 'feminist' in a search engine.

Here's what Gaga recently had to say about the matter:

Yes. Yes I am. I am a feminist. I reject wholeheartedly the way we are taught to perceive women. The beauty of women, how a woman should act or behave. Women are strong and fragile. Women are beautiful and ugly. We are soft spoken and loud, all at once. There is something mind-controlling about the way we're taught to view women. My work, both visually and musically, is a rejection of all those things. And most importantly a quest. It's exciting because all avant-garde clothing and music and lyrics that at one time were considered shocking or unacceptable are now trendy. Perhaps we can make women's rights trendy. Strength, feminism, security, the wisdom of the woman. Let's make that trendy.

Well, that seems pretty clear, doesn't it? Yet, a lot of people who think that they are the judges of who is feminist or not have weighed in on Gaga. I personally don't think it's appropriate to deny people their identities, but Gaga's work is not without flaws; I'll call her a feminist because that's how she identifies, and I will even call some aspects of her work feminist, but I will also challenge things in her work that I find problematic. I will question who gets to define feminism and why, as well.

It's been pointed out that she appropriates a lot of things from musical traditions created by people of colour and nonwhite people. That her work contains transmisogyny. That she appropriates the experiences of people with disabilities. These are all things that I don't think of as feminist acts—note that I am not saying that Lady Gaga is not feminist (because I don't think it's up to me to decide that), but rather that I am saying that her actions do not always mesh with the identity she has chosen to claim. The same could be said of many other people who identify as feminist, including myself, however. Let those in glass houses...

On the flip side, she embraces and supports her queer fans. She's outspoken on topics like safer sex. She challenges ideas about beauty ideals, something admittedly fairly easy to do when you are a conventionally attractive white woman. She's a woman who has really harnessed social networking to propel her career; she's made it in an industry that is hard on women. And I think that her own approach to feminism has evolved; in earlier interviews, she explicitly identified as not feminist, and she's only decided to claim that label relatively recently.

I think that reflects the evolution of personal belief systems that happens over time, and also the pressure she's experiencing. As people alternately celebrate and abuse her, it's kind of hard not to pick a side.

I spent a long time not identifying as a feminist because I internalized a lot of really terrible things about feminists and what feminism is. Judging from the way Gaga talks about feminism in older interviews, I suspect that the same holds true for her. As she was exposed to other kinds of feminism, to the myriad and varied facets of feminist activism and the feminist movement, I think she started to identify the feminist themes in her own work and in the way she approaches the world.

It's impossible to escape the appropriative aspects of the Gaga persona, though. The feminist aspects of her work are deeply tangled with the anti-feminist parts. We probably wouldn't be seeing Gaga's work at all if she didn't meet certain beauty standards applied to pop stars, if her work wasn't appropriative—the crispy feminist interior is wrapped up in a shit sandwich.

It isn't Lady Gaga's fault that appropriation and conventionally attractive women are popular in pop culture and that both of these things are pretty much necessary if you want to be a pop star. And I don't blame Germanotta for creating a character like Lady Gaga to break into the pop scene, because who doesn't want to be a star?

Now that Lady Gaga has gotten there, has built a mythology around appropriation, how exactly can she back down from that? Not that I don't want to see her try, not that I don't want to see her honoring the people she's imitating and appropriating from, but she's caught between a rock and a hard place. Either she abandons the anti-feminist aspects of her work and falls into obscurity, or she tries to strike a balance when it comes to disseminating some feminist messages and staying popular.

Lady Gaga in Vancouver: Lady Gaga performs inside a giant metal circle, lit with blue lights and surrounded by mist and smoke.

Like a lot of work subjected to lively debate about whether it's feminist or not, Gaga's contains a mixture of feminism, outright anti-feminism, and everything in between. I think it's great to see people talking about and challenging her work, but I wish such intense scrutiny was applied to many other works identified as 'feminist,' and that people talked more about the dominant voices defining feminism, and that people also talked about why Gaga in particular attracts such ferocious debate while other creators get a pass.



Update: This comment thread has been closed. This is not a thread to discuss comment moderation. If you would like to discuss comment moderation, please send an email directly to the Bitch Media web staff with your thoughts. -Kjerstin Johnson, web content manager

Guess what? Subscriptions to Bitch—our award-winning, 80+ page print quarterly—are 20% off to help us reach our $25,000 funding goal by September 30. Pitch in to support feminist media: Subscribe today

Subscribe to Bitch


Comments

76 comments have been made. Commenting is set to read-only for this post.

Don't ask don't tell

I have been thinking extra hard about Lady Gaga today because I was a little conflicted about her VMA showing last night. For those who didn't catch the show, Gaga was escorted by four US soldiers who had been discharged due to the DADT policy (http://www.autostraddle.com/dont-ask-dont-tell-lady-gaga-59367).

While on the one hand I thought it was awesome that Gaga was using her privilege as an influential public figure to fight institutionalized homophobia, on the other hand I felt a little uncomfortable watching her interact with her escorts. She introduced them, but they did not speak for themselves once. During one of her (many) acceptance speeches, she said she loved them and, I don't know, it felt kind of exploitative to me.

Help I am conflicted! Did anyone else watch last night and have any thoughts to share?
____________
Kelsey Wallace, web editor

Ask me about our Comments Policy!

____________
Kelsey Wallace, contributor

Ask me about our Comments Policy!

I didn't watch, although I

I didn't watch, although I have noticed the buzz and seen some of the publicity stills. Your point about her speaking *for* her escorts is really interesting; like, yes, it is great to see people in a position of privilege using it to draw attention to an issue (as seen with other celebs and causes like hunger, poverty, etc.) but it's also a really common trend that the celeb still does all the talking. Contrast that with Brando and Sacheen Littlefeather, where he ceded his place on stage to her to allow her to speak for herself and her people, instead of speaking for her.

For me, a really key component of fighting oppression is giving the oppressed a voice.

Lady Gaga (who I don't

Lady Gaga (who I don't actually find appealing) is of a long tradition of privileged folks who are vilified for using their position of privilege to make things better for other folks. Sometimes her methods are a bit baffling. She is no more problematic than say - Annie Lennox - as it relates to trying to make the world a less sucky place for those who do not share her privileged position, but she is gorgeous and popular and thus an appropriate target for some really nasty anti-female rhetoric both in and out of feminist circles.

Personally, Gaga is about interesting to me as Tina Marie, which is to say, not very, but I'm really surprised that her artistry, which is admittedly derivative, causes so much angst among her detractors. My issue has never been about her artistry, but her appropriative tendencies. That said, I wonder how much of this can be attributed to the "newness" of her career.

I still find myself bristling at the attention she receives, which I feel Grace Jones, Annie Lennox and Dolly Parton deserve much more, but I appreciate her attempt to pull some people into the pop culture conversation that are generally ignored.

RE: the soldiers. I don't know if this is all Gaga's doing. Perhaps they aren't allowed to speak freely. I don't know if their cases are settled or still pending. That might make a difference.

________________________________________
Snarky's Machine, your friendly comment moderator
Did someone say Comments Policy?

This is a trend with DADT

This is a trend with DADT activism, that the celebrity seems to believe that they get the spotlight and the servicemembers, who have all their world to lose (just because you have been discharged doesn't mean you don't have more to lose, folks!) get to stand around in the uniforms and look like pretty accessories, a la Kathy Griffin and the HRC with Dan Choi, Jim Pietrangelo (and Autumn Sandeen who was also there). These LGBT servicemembers put their futures on the line and get treated like props. At least in Gaga's case she is part of the LGBT community, though she isn't actually a servicemember (I don't know that Griffin identifies as LGBT). It doesn't make it better, merely that she should maybe know a little better...

I love that she has been a literal rockstar for this cause lately, and has been throwing her clout behind we veterans. I understand that making them visible probably does part of the job, and maybe they don't want that much exposure, but somehow I feel, knowing what I know, that they would be better served to speak their own message with the support of her celebrity behind them.

All that said, s.e., your point that I think is the most apt is this: people who self identify as feminist and then do things that are decidedly should not be stripped of their identity by those in the feminist community. I can not think of a single feminist, womanist, or social justice activist that I am familiar with who does not do this same thing. The point is that we admit it and work through it, move up from it, and try to at least learn from it. Not all of us are naked in the public eye, so we can hide our flaws better. Thanks for this post!

You can do one of two things; just shut up, which is something I don't find easy, or learn an awful lot very fast, which is what I tried to do. ~ Jane Fonda

You can do one of two things; just shut up, which is something I don't find easy, or learn an awful lot very fast, which is what I tried to do. ~ Jane Fonda

Thanks for this, Bitch....

....because I love reading thoughtful analysis on the Gaga phenomenon. I earned a media studies degree in 1994 with the help of Madonna. My advisor was actually quite impressed that I could use her work in so many different contexts, with so many critical lenses. And this was long before she became a mother! What I could do if I went for a PhD!

I say all of this because I find Lady Gaga just as intriguing, but for one problem: I don't like her music. I used to think I liked quality pop junk as much as the next gal, but I just can't dig Gaga musically. I guess I'm old.

Thank you for doing the work that I won't!

"It's been pointed out that

"It's been pointed out that she appropriates a lot of things from musical traditions created by people of colour and nonwhite people. That her work contains transmisogyny. That she appropriates the experiences of people with disabilities."
So, this isn't really a challenge to that at all, and honestly, I don't pay that much attention to Lady Gaga, but when I have seen her do the above, I always felt like it was turned on it's head a little bit, like she appropriated it and then threw it back at us in a way that made us think about it. Like she was trying to make a point. Which I think can be valuable. Or is it never valuable? I guess I'm just wondering if anyone else has noticed that and if they think it's worth the value.

"I always felt like it was

"I always felt like it was turned on it's head a little bit, like she appropriated it and then threw it back at us in a way that made us think about it."
I have to agree. I take everything Gaga does as irony and farce. It's like the product placement in her videos. It's excessive for a reason. One of the things I love Gaga for is that she is a Pop Icon but she is also completely critiquing pop culture at the same time.
But then, hey, I'm a fan. :)

Hrm, well, what you may read

Hrm, well, what you may read as an irony or farce, the people being appropriated from may take as deeply offensive and a devaluation of their culture.

Gaga DENIES she's a character

"Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta created Gaga as a personality, and it's important to remember that. Lady Gaga is a character."

Wrong! Have you not seen this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HuYnSwNpOkw

Gaga has denied in numerous interviews that she's "playing a character." She wants us to believe so badly that Lady Gaga is who she is all the time and that she's "being real." This couldn't be further from the truth, as you pointed out.

I used to like her, until I realized that everything about her is smoke and mirrors and no substance whatsoever. If "being a feminist" is all about projecting a vapid, trite, oversexualized pop persona, then I'd rather not call myself one. Also, her music and her videos are nothing but a badly stitched-together pastiche of passe concepts that she insists on calling "art." The poseur-ness of the whole thing kind of makes me sick.

I honestly believe that Gaga has a very limited idea of what a "feminist" is and cares to bandy it about as a buzzword that will endear her to yet another group of marginalized people. She'll say she loves feminists and gays and whoever else she can get to buy her records, and that's about all.

I used to like her, until I

I used to like her, until I realized that everything about her is smoke and mirrors and no substance whatsoever. If "being a feminist" is all about projecting a vapid, trite, oversexualized pop persona, then I'd rather not call myself one. Also, her music and her videos are nothing but a badly stitched-together pastiche of passe concepts that she insists on calling "art." The poseur-ness of the whole thing kind of makes me sick.

Snap! "pastiche" made me LOL. I don't know if I agree with your entire point, because mostly I tire of way in which female artistry is routinely devalued in ways that male artists in the throes of the same degree of derivative schlock (I see you, Kanye) aren't.

________________________________________
Snarky's Machine, your friendly comment moderator
Did someone say Comments Policy?

Plus, I personally am sick

Plus, I personally am sick and tired with flamboyance being equated with insincerity. It's misogynistic and homophobic, and I find so-called "sensitive, stripped-down singer-songwriters" who feign humility while in reality having massive egos—and in the case of John Mayer, being a rabid racist and a general jerk—infinitely more insincere than Lady Gaga.

Word. _______________________

Word.
________________________________________
Snarky's Machine, your friendly comment moderator
Did someone say Comments Policy?

What's this, I dip my head

What's this, I dip my head out for a break and come out to awesome comments? Yes! 100% to this; it is possible to be sincere or insincere at all levels of flamboyance and stripped down aesthetics. (And I'm glad to see you bring up homophobia, which is something I see leveled a lot at characters deemed 'too gay.')

Respect artists

I don't know if you've ever done a paint-by-number or made a collage or even designed a Myspace page, but CREATING something requires that you give part of yourself to the process of changing one thing into another.

The process of creating art requires that you sacrifice part of yourself. Any human who has picked up a Crayola or arranged their living room knows that the pride we have in showing the result of our works comes from our personal, completely vulnerable investment of energy into that work. We all care about our punctuation and adjectives as we're writing these responses and reflection, these are the small messages we care about sending into the cyber world for people to respect us by.

Let her be who she is. She has access to a greater number of people who can investigate and learn about the issues she may not extensively cover in a Barbara Walters interview. Look at how many feminists she got shootin' shit about our values and listening to what other bright, creative, opinionated women have to say.

I don't see Gaga as a feminist sell out. I perceive her to be bowing into what shocks the media in order to redirect that attention to much larger issues.

I'm glad you point out that

I'm glad you point out that she is hopefully evolving as a person. Lest we forget that Germanotta was born in 1986.

Seriously. I would not have

Seriously. I would not have wanted a platform like that at 24. I said all kinds of foolish things then!

________________________________________
Snarky's Machine, your friendly comment moderator
Did someone say Comments Policy?

Indeed. A lot of the

Indeed. A lot of the feminisim/anti-feminism debate I've seen neglects to mention her age, and how your beliefs can evolve.

I hate it when the world takes a pop culture icon and makes a snapshot in time of them and holds them to that snapshot for the rest of their lives, artistically, belief-wise and beauty wise. It gives them no room to change, and when they do express a differing opinion/start ageing/change artistically, they get ripped apart. A lot of the feminist critique of Gaga is still holding on to the "Oh but she said in X interview she wasn't a feminist, so how can she say now that she is, people don't change waaaahhh can't deal head explode!"

Thanks for the article. I'm a Gaga fan, and you've articulated much of what I've felt about her feminism and dichotomies.

I would actually like to debate the idea that Stephanie Germanotta is "beautiful" in the pop culture sense. I actually like her because if you see her without all the makeup and hair, she is attractive in her personal way, but she has some unusual features which some may deem as not attractive. For example, her eyes are asymmetrical, and she has a nose larger than deemed "beautiful" by Hollywood.

I think her step into "conventional" beauty comes from very clever accessory, makeup and hair tricks which disguise her supposed faults, and I think this adds to her persona. She's saying "look at me, I'm playing by the rules of conventional beauty but I'm not really!"

For example: her glasses fetish covers up the size of her nose; her flamboyant masks/eye make up covers up the asymmetry; differing lip shapes draws the eye downwards; big wigs that fall over one side of her face; hats that draws the eye upwards.

Ageism, anyone? I was born

Ageism, anyone?

I was born in 1985. Why does it matter what year she was born in? Some people are 70 and never "evolve" and some people are 14 and are quite "evolved." Young people can and are aware of themselves and their beliefs, and not to mention, some people change their beliefs throughout their entire lives.

How is it ageism? Ageism as

How is it ageism? Ageism as you're seeking to use it relates to older folks, not younger folks. In a culture where youth is privileged, screaming ageism is a little like screaming, "Reverse racism". In the context it simply doesn't exist. Nobody is discussing Gaga's mental or emotional capacity, only noting that at 24 and new to the music business, there's a lot she might decide no longer appeals to her in terms of beliefs or ideals when she's older. Seems like you're reacting personal to that which was not about you.

Also please can we all retire the 14 evolved/70 not evolved strawman argument. For the love of Xena!

________________________________________
Snarky's Machine, your friendly comment moderator
Did someone say Comments Policy?

No ageism for me, thanks

I bring up her birth year for several reasons. One - because, as others have mentioned, she is at the beginning of her career and (hopefully) has many many more years left to learn, experience, listen, grow, etc. This is not a slam on her age - I'm not saying she's immature or childish or clueless. Fact of the matter is, a 24 year old has less life experience than a 40 year old or a 70 year old. I'm not talking about wisdom or insight or quality of character, I'm talking straight up miles logged. Believe it or not, that does count for something.

Secondly, there is a tremendous amount of pressure put on young female pop stars. They're supposed to be sexy, confident (but not TOO confident), stylish, sane, spokespersons, role models, runway models, dancers, classy, articulate, humanitarians, socially aware, politically savvy, happy, in healthy partnerships, good with money, sober, blah blah blah blah - oh and THIN. I mean, WTF? Who has this stuff all worked out at 18, 20, 22, 24 years old? I think there's got to be a way to examine the public actions of influential pop stars like Lady Gaga in a way that takes into consideration where they are as real live flesh and blood human beings (who spend an inordinate amount of time trying on clothes, learning new dance moves, and being auto-tuned). You can say, "Hey, I have a real problem with that jacked up thing you just did ONSTAGE," and then you can also say, "and I'm gonna let you keep figuring this stuff out."

Lastly, I brought up her age because the vast majority of people critiquing her are way older than she is, and I'd be surprised if at 22 (when she blew up) or 24 (her current age) they knew half the theoretical terms their essays and articles are peppered with. That's not a slam at them, either. It's just probably the truth. And a reminder that Lady Gaga is probably NOT masterminding some gigantic social engineering project (for good or evil), but rather - as many other young female pop stars before her - is trying to express herself creatively and make as much cash as her record label will allow.

Thanks for explaining, I

Thanks for explaining, I guess I can be sensitive about my age (25) because I have been patronized in the past, basically patted on my head and saying "Oh, but you're so young! You just don't know anything yet!" And it's frustrating. I want to have a large family, and when I'd talk about it to my older (female) coworkers with kids, they'd immediately think that I'm just young and stupid, basically, for wanting a bunch of kids and question whether or not I know it's a lot of work. So that's where I was coming from.

I think what makes Gaga different than other pop stars is that the things you listed that apply to pop stars don't really apply to her. Which I think is a step in the right direction. She talks about using drugs, that she's celibate, she talks about art (I mean seriously, have you ever heard Britney Spears talk about art?), feminism, and she really is able to be who she wants to be, she's one of the first nonmanufactured "pop stars" which to me, is incredibly refreshing. when I was in high school, the ideal image of a pop star was an overly sexual virgin who wore revealing clothes, oozed sex, but talked about waiting until marriage to actually *have* sex, which to a teenage girl, is an incredibly confusing message. And it sucked more for me because I went to a Catholic school (uniform and all) and Spears' first video happened to be of a sexy Catholic school girl. I was 14, and in this spot of being harassed over my uniform because it was magnified into this image of sex (not to say that image hasn't been sexualized in the past, but it was more in-your-face). So I appreciate Gaga for being herself, and being honest when talking about her sex life (she's celebate) and her past drug use (and apparently, still occasionally uses) and the best thing about it, is that the media (for the most part) isn't crucifying her for it. And the fact that she's not perfect and bizarre and educated and articulate is what makes her so unique and a step in the right direction for the music industry.

Anyways, thanks again for explaining, and i'm glad it was just misunderstanding. I do have to say though, Gaga, to me, seems to be a very "enlightened" and "worldly" person, some days I have a hard time realizing I'm older than her, because she seems wiser to me. And she's very articulate as well, most of my peers in college couldn't string together two sentences.

Then perhaps this is about experience, not age...

Because ageism works both ways...

Like telling a 23 year old woman that she can't have permanent birth control because she will "change her mind about wanting children some day".

How many of the people dying in our wars are under 25?

My husband is just now 26, and has been a sailor for over 7 of those years. He handles shit daily that would make most of your heads spin. I know because I used to do the same job.

I became a mother at 21. Probably not the best situation, but I've done a damned fine job, and better than many people who did it at twice that age.

While youth is privileged in many settings, it is also beat down and denied existence and autonomy or respect in others. It is a great way to deny experience and demand silence from a person, by pointing out how young they are, especially with young women. We take them less seriously, and insist that they will change their minds or opinions as they gain years. At 30, I am still told that I won't understand shit until I am older.

So how old does one have to be before their age isn't a factor anymore?

If you mean experience, say so. Don't bring numbers into it, because the numbers mean jack. It isn't the same as screaming "reverse racism" because youth, young women, children, are denied autonomy, rights, and taken less seriously every day. It's real. It happens. And sometimes young people even die because of stoic beliefs like these, that ageism only works towards elders.

But, hey, telling someone who thinks that devaluing an experience based on youth alone might be ageist is the same as claiming "reverse racism" is a great silencing tactic.

You can do one of two things; just shut up, which is something I don't find easy, or learn an awful lot very fast, which is what I tried to do. ~ Jane Fonda

You can do one of two things; just shut up, which is something I don't find easy, or learn an awful lot very fast, which is what I tried to do. ~ Jane Fonda

Would you say that at 30 you

Would you say that at 30 you have a better understanding of some things (and yourself) than you did at 20? And than you did at 13?

It's about the trajectory of each individual's life experience. I'm not hearing anyone say that a random 35 year old is superior than a random 25 year old. But I'd hope ones 35 year old self had gained some information - in addition to life experience, barring the last 10 years hadn't been spent in a coma - that ones 25 year old self didn't have.

Bringing up age is not necessary ageism, anymore than bringing up race, nationality or religion is racism, xenophobia, or religious bigotry.

I find it incongruous to say

I find it incongruous to say "That her work contains transmisogyny" and then "On the flip side, she embraces and supports her queer fans"-- are trans folks suddenly not a part of the queer community? I think that the fact that her work does contain transmisogyny seems to send a loud message that she doesn't support queer fans whether or not she tries to make up for it otherwise, ie actions speak louder than words.

Yes, a better way to phrase

Yes, a better way to phrase it would be 'her cis queer fans'! Thanks for the catch.

Being cis I don't want to

Being cis I don't want to devalue what you consider support and non-support, but surely one can display marginalizing/prejudiced behavior and still be an ally? After all not everyone is perfect. Speaking generally here, not about Lady Gaga at all, really.

well, no, not really. There

well, no, not really.

There was a comment (now deleted) on one of Tasha's posts, basically insulting fat women (I'm not going into details), but then saying that she wanted to be an ally to the FA movement, but said fat women weren't allowing her to be an ally. It was obvious to me that she only wanted to SAY she was an ally, but you have to "walk the walk and talk the talk." To be an ally is to support. To be on their side. I don't think you can be on someone's side and simultaneously insult them (unintentionally or not) at the same time. That's what I understand.

Sorry but i hardly can tell,

Sorry but i hardly can tell, from the link provided, how Gaga "appropriates a lot of things from musical traditions created by people of colour and nonwhite people."

Care to give some more information? I just don't think that link adequately described how Gaga does this, only that Grace Jones doesn't want to work with her (so?) and that MIA calls her a "good mimic." I just don't know what "concepts" she's supposedly ripping off from artists of color.

Ok, so she's popular, how Jay-Z is now. But what the article failed to mention is how hip-hop wasn't so mainstream in the 90s, and they both have different musical styles, pop music is much more accessible to the masses, while some simply don't "get" hip-hop, or they aren't really exposed to it. I used to live in a more rural town, and they didn't even have a hip-hop radio station. Plus, the media is different now than back then. Everything is super-saturated, and one can argue that Gaga is so popular now because of the internet and gossip magazines and websites, etc. MIA isn't a mainstream artist, and I think it's incorrect to compare the two, which the article seemed to be doing.

Just because Grace Jones says that Gaga is copying her does not make it the truth.

Anyways, I'm glad that you identify her as a feminist because she does, because it can be very frustrating when someone identifies as something, and others refuse to accept it.

I also think you're being too hard on her, and you're expecting her to be a perfect feminist because she says she's a feminist. Human beings are inherently flawed, and there will always be some flaw someone will find in her work. No one is a perfect feminist, and I wouldn't expect anyone here at this magazine to be one either, and I wouldn't criticize anyone if they weren't. And, not everyone devotes their free time to feminist criticism, and not everyone necessarily knows about transmisogynism, and not everyone is aware that what they say or do can negatively affect someone (and likewise, some don't care). So I do think you should give her a break and let her grow as an artist and a feminist and accept that she's not a perfect feminist and move on.

I can't be arsed to unpack

I can't be arsed to unpack and respond to your comment except to say you're trafficking in copious amounts of derailing for dummies. Your inability to "see" how Gaga misappropriates says everything about YOUR own privilege and inability to google "Grace Jones" and nothing else. If concepts are unfamiliar to you instead assuming the concepts themselves are wrong, you might want to hit up Professor Google. Because the argument, "you're wrong because I don't know what you're talking about." just does not cut it.
________________________________________
Snarky's Machine, your friendly comment moderator
Did someone say Comments Policy?

On the other side, the

On the other side, the article linked doesn't really provide any information on the subject of Gaga's appropriation, and while it's certainly not anyone's job to educated the privileged, it becomes your job when you decide to write an article about it. That's the point of articles, isn't it? To educate and inform?

So I find it a little useless to reference an article that merely states that Gaga appropriates without explanation. Because that doesn't explain the position at all, and that's the point of a reference.

Googling Grace Jones won't

Googling Grace Jones won't say how Gaga is stealing from her.

"Because the argument, "you're wrong because I don't know what you're talking about." "

Except I didn't say anyone was wrong, only that they failed to say exactly how, and only stated that she did. I'm not talking about Bitch exactly, I'm talking about the article linked, and that Bitch could have given a better article saying *how* Gaga is doing those things. the other articles liked to in the article (which were written by Bitch bloggers) DID do that, I guess I don't understand why the author would link to an article with insufficient information.

I'm not saying that Gaga doesn't appropriate from artists of color, I'm saying, give me more information. Give better articles.

And no, it's not derailing because it was specifically mentioned in the article. If you don't want people to talk about it, don't mention it in the article.

Whitney, Hi, demanding that

Whitney,

Hi, demanding that marginalized folks explain that which you are unclear about is the very defintion of "Derailing for Dummies". But don't take my word for it. Do your own legwork. If your google's broken, use mine. It smacks of flaming entitlement to demand that others be responsible to educate you. There are a wealth of resources about the topic of misappropriation as it relates to music and culture, which I'm sure you are able to research yourself. The fact that you're unmotivated to do so is pretty much solely your issue and not something that ou needs to work around or factor into the creation of blog posts.
________________________________________
Snarky's Machine, your friendly comment moderator
Did someone say Comments Policy?

That's such a cop-out. All I

That's such a cop-out. All I asked for was for the author of the article here to link to a better article explaining their argument. Or to perhaps offer a better link explaining their position. Is that so much to ask? Apparently, asking for journalistic integrity and solid evidence to back up your arguments IS too much to ask. And I guess now asking for more information is now "demanding" more information.

If I wrote a paper in college, and made arguments and didn't back them up in my paper (or offered half-assed ones) and my professor dinged me for it and asked for sources, I wouldn't say "Well, Google it yourself, it's not *my* job to educate you." I mean, really.

I guess you want me to research the articles that Bitch posts here. If it's not your job to "educate" me, then what the fuck is the point of these articles anyways? If they aren't to educate, then why does Bitch even exist in the first place?

If you don't want to have the conversation, don't mention it in the original blog post. And if you want to make an argument, BACK IT UP.

And I find it so fucking sad that whenever commenters here ask for clarification or more information, they get this snippy and snide response. It's so passive aggressive. And I'm sorry it's so fucking offensive to you when I ask for more information. Whether you like it or not, you are in an educative position, so don't get angry when people ask for more information.

And another thing, I didn't ask *you* for more information. I asked the author. So back off.

The thing is too, I've read

The thing is too, I've read a lot of s.e. smith's other articles, and I really like how she backs up her arguments and uses a lot of great links. And I like her articles. I just thought that one link wasn't that clear. I didn't necessarily have a problem with s.e. smith's article, I took issue with the article she linked to. As a reader, and as someone who wants to learn more (why else would I be here?), and I want more. I don't think that's too much to ask for.

and @ s.e. smith, please don't take this as me ragging on you or anything. I'm just a little aghast at the response I got for asking for more information. And I did read your article on appropriation and feminism and I understand what you are referring to (and I appreciate your thoughtfulness to include a large number of links), I just don't know specifically how Gaga is doing it. I don't tend to trust the internet as it can be full of lies, and I trust the bloggers here at Bitch with their vast knowledge of feminism to provide knowledgeable sources. I'm only asking because I know you'll have an answer.

.

(s.e.'s preferred pronoun is "ou".)

Derailing

Whitney, I'm a MOD here at Bitch, so I'm not going to "back off". I'm sorry if you feel attacked, but I've been rather patient with the derails demanding MORE information. It's fairly routine for privileged folks to engage in the behavior you're engaged in. I know it's really hard to understand that it's not OUR JOB to educate you or meet your standard of appropriate sourcing, but it isn't. Nobody's denying your right to make your own decisions about Gaga, but you are being asked to do your own legwork.

Trust me, you're not the first (or last) person to use this tactic, so forgive me if I'm less than patient with you or others using it. It's very frustrating and tiring to keep saying, "It's not my job to ensure you get it. That's your job."

If You cared about this matter you'd be willing to educate me...

"You see, often in these discussions a Marginalised Person™ will tell you it’s not their responsibility to educate you. This is because Marginalised People™ believe that they have other priorities in life, like working and studying and being with their families for example.

Clearly, they are labouring under a misperception - as a Privileged Person® you have far more right to their time than they do, and besides, don’t they want to make the world a better place? Isn’t that why they alerted you to the fact you were being offensive in the first place? Well, now clearly your education is their responsibility!
By placing this burden of responsibility onto them you remind them of just how daunting a task that is and how their lives are constantly being monopolised by the Privileged®, even in something that should be empowering to them, like deconstructing discrimination.

You trivialise their lives, needs, interests and obligations by suggesting they should be spending all of their time and energy in engaging with clueless Privileged People®, putting in hours and hours of effort in repeating the exact same thing they’ve already said three thousand times to three thousand other Privileged People® in their past.

And furthermore, you remind them that, if they really cared about their own issues, they’d willingly take that task on! Surely it’s a small price to pay to change people‘s minds?

Well, you want them to think that, but of course it isn’t. After all, most of the conversations they have with Privileged People® often feel to them like beating their heads repeatedly against a brick wall embedded with rusty spikes.

Which is entirely the point. Keep them worn out and exhausted and maybe they’ll just go away."

hope this helps.

________________________________________
Snarky's Machine, your friendly comment moderator
Did someone say Comments Policy?

I will repeat, I did not ask

I will repeat, I did not ask you.

I find nothing wrong with asking for more sufficient information. But if you have a problem with that, then that's YOUR problem. Not mine.

And another thing, the way you make it sound, logically, it's as if it's perfectly fine to ask a non-marginalized person for more information. You make it sound like no one can ask anyone who is marginalized for another, better, source. And that if the author was "privileged" then it's OK.

So really. Either it's not OK to ask anyone for a better source, or it's OK to ask everyone.

and do excuse my tone because I'm pretty fucking pissed off right now. I'm pissed off that I'm here, eager to learn, and I'm being berated and shunned and bullied because I asked for another source. What does that say about you? What does that say about Bitch and feminism? Why would I want to be a feminist if I'm berated and bullied like this?

I have never posted before

I have never posted before and I never will again because I will never read this magazine again after the person in charge attacked a reader for pointing out that this particular article wasn't referenced well. I had a similar question. But I won't be asking because I'm fed up with this farce of a feminist magazine.

I guess

We'll sure miss your perspective, Anonymous!

And another thing, why do

And another thing, why do you automatically assume I am a privileged person and not marginalized myself?

I find myself reading

I find myself reading comments to intriguing articles often, to get an idea of different perspectives. I'm a bit conflicted on the whole Lady Gaga phenom myself, so I was interested in reading other points of view here.

Geez, Snarky - way to dogpile opposing views. I get that Bitch deems constant comment moderation to be favorable. But as a neutral party who isn't on one side of the debate or the other, I see your berating to be akin to bullying.

What a turn-off. My view of Bitch's moderators has just plummeted.

Differing opinions are

Differing opinions are welcome. Hey, I don't care for Gaga at all, unlike ou who wrote the post. Ou and I differ in opinion. And that's fine. However, it's pretty annoying when a person who has little exposure of concepts insists on being educated in order to decide whether or not they find your viewpoint useful. That's derailing for dummies. It's not a marginalized person's job to ensure that all your T's are crossed and I's are dotted. Marginalized folks often feel unsafe in spaces where privilege and derailing go unchecked. I am definitely not a bully. I'm just not entirely sure why it's so hard to accept there is comments policy in place and that folks need to ensure they're not running afoul of it. Honestly, it's really frustrating to see a great post marred by endless derails by folks who want MORE INFORMATION and assume the responsibility to educated them on matters unfamiliar to them is someone else's job. As a marginalized person, it's very, very draining. So forgive me if I'm not putting out tea and crumpets.

________________________________________
Snarky's Machine, your friendly comment moderator
Did someone say Comments Policy?

But you completely

But you completely overreacted to Whitney. Bitch is so paranoid about "derailing" and "concern trolls" and all the other little buzzword terms that you end up suppressing actual dialogue and honest discussion among feminists.

And I know what derailing is. I've taken my fair share of ethnic studies and women's studies and I've witnessed actual derailing many times. What Whitney wrote does not constitute derailing.

Have fun in your little echo chamber.

no...

But that wasn't dialog--it was a commenter insisting for someone to explain to her how Gaga appropriates. "I don't get it, educate me" isn't a feminist opinion, it's a derail.

When a person decides to

When a person decides to write an article, they may or may not choose to provide references. When that author links their references, it's expected that the references actually back up the point they're trying to make. It is not oppressive to point out the flaws in the article linked. Because it truly doesn't make any sense to link to that article.

And to be honest I think authors of articles like this decide to act as teachers and informers. That's what journalism is, after all. To demand information from that person is I agree derailing and extremely inappropriate, but to ask is not.

Thanks for your patronizing definition of "writing!"

But here we go, I'll even provide references! The "appropriation" article link says this:

In fact, in Gaga's case, much of her popularity is based on styles and sounds that were created by artists of color. Jamaican-American artist Grace Jones, for example...British Sri Lankan musician M.I.A. calls Gaga "a good mimic." While these comments could just reflect bitterness from artists who Gaga has popularly outstripped in only two short years, it points to a deeper frustration, too: the fact that white musicians consistently garner fame for concepts originating with musicians of color.

How does it "not make any sense to link to that article" ??

Also no matter what your idea of what writers or teachers or journalists, s.e. can write and respond however ou pleases. It's not up to other commenters to say how ou should act as a writer. come on.

You're right, I have no

You're right, I have no place to tell the author what to do. But I have every right to say what I think a good writer should do, and I have every right to critique an article.

I read that article, and noted the paragraph you quoted. That only mentions who, not how. It skims on the topic just as much as s.e. smith's. How am I to trust a statement whose only sources are quotes from the artists who feel appropriated? This author presented an article as reference when there was no proof within the reference itself.

So when the proof falls flat, I don't understand why it's derailing (and yes, I do understand Derailing for Dummies) to note that the reference isn't sufficient.

But that paragraph doesn't

But that paragraph doesn't tell you that much. Using electronic sounds is appropriation? Wearing "outlandish attire" is appropriation? Why has Gaga stolen from Grace Jones, but not Cher? When I Google "mia gaga mimic" I get MIA saying that Gaga tries to mimic pretty much everyone, not specifically singers of color. And these are two subjective claims - opinions. If SE wants me to take them seriously, she needs to evaluate them with videos or sound clips side by side.

I don't know how to respond to your last lines. Yes, it is up to readers to give criticism of an article. I don't understand how anyone can think that just because an article's published, nobody has the right to say there may be something wrong with it.

One of the things I always

One of the things I always appreciated about Lady Gaga is the fact that her performances, statements and even outfits spark discussions like these, which lead to discussions about institutions of our society and our perceptions of people not like ourselves (whoever they may be). I can't remember the last time a pop singer consistently stirred up such relatively complex societal issues--then again, I'm a year younger than Gaga herself, so I mainly remember growing up with Britney Spears who, let's face it, never seemed to spark anything beyond "She's in a schoolgirl outfit! Gross!" The fact that Gaga is causing us to question the nature of pop, art and culture (and any combination of those words), that she is making us think and, yes, critique her work, is, to me a good thing. Me, I'm kind of just glad someone brought the "concept video" back, to be honest.

PS. Re: appropriation

I also have to say, and I'm aware this might stir up a shit-storm from some, but appropriation happens all the time. I'm not making a statement as to whether all of Gaga's appropriations are handled well or not, because some artistic choices will always be better than others, but I don't think it's fair to deride someone because they appropriate. Someone brought up the fact that she is relatively young and therefore appropriation might be something akin to a learning process (like the time you decided to be goth in high school, for example). Yes, the influences of artists like Grace Jones, Madonna and David Bowie are clear, but years down the line, people will be appropriating Gaga's work. It's how it goes.

I was going to say something

I was going to say something similar. It's kind of like how they always say "there are only 5 plots and all us writers just keep recycling them".

I just wanted to point out

I just wanted to point out that, in the context we're talking about, "appropriation" has a pretty specific meaning. It's not just about copying, or being influenced by someone else.

It's about specifically taking things from another culture over which your culture is dominant. It's about white people usurping rhythms originating in historically black music to "create" rock & roll. It's about white people wearing warbonnets with no understanding of the deep spiritual meaning they possess.

It's about a power imbalance, above all.

Yeah, yeah, I know I can just Google all my questions...

I was using "appropriation" in the artistic rather than the social sense. In the artistic sense, it does mean copying or making a specific reference to another artist's work. I guess I was thinking about something else, though the two, I suppose, can be linked--is it the artistic or the social type of (mis)appopriation if Gaga is informed stylistically by Grace Jones? Or, for example, the beat used on "Alejandro" is a reference, artistically, to an Ace of Base song, and the video is obviously a reference to Madonna's "Vogue" video, but as for the whole "Mexico" theme and lyric...I'm still at something of a loss. Thoughts?

Also, I'd like to point out, since everyone is so terrified of derailment, that 28 out of the now 58 comments have not been on the topic of Lady Gaga's artistic sensibilities, but are rather disturbing dismissals of readers' critiques of the moderation policies at Bitch magazine. Can we get back on track, please? I was looking forward to talking about Gaga.

Same here!

Thanks for saying that, Owl! I came to this comments thread hoping to read some discussion about Gaga, not about links or whatever.

It's interesting that you point out how "Alejandro" is derivative of (or inspired by, or a tribute to, or however Gaga might put it) Ace of Base. I've thought of it as being reminiscent of ABBA's "Fernando," and Ace of Base was accused of copying ABBA, so I guess things are getting even more postmodern up in here.

On to more Gaga talk please!

Dorian's correction was

Dorian's correction was entirely valid, as the original piece is not discussing appropriation in the sense you are using it in here. While it's fine to talk about the derivative aspects of Gaga's work (and it's a subject I also find interesting), that's not what was discussed in the post, and it's not really the conversation I was trying to spark with this article.

ah

Okay. I wasn't saying Dorian's post was invalid, by the way, I was merely explaining where I was coming from. To bad tone-of-voice gets lost in typing! But yeah, I've been a long time confused about how I feel about some of the lyrics in "Alejandro," because it does bring up some discomfort for me about the utilization of Latino culture--that, and I don't really understand why it (Latino culture) was chosen in the first place. I guess I'll never know...

Personally, I don't take

Personally, I don't take much issue with Gaga paying homage to influences, but the misappropriation thing is troubling because culture and history isn't for privileged for to treat like a buffet. I don't often hear Gaga talk about the people who influence her, so I don't even know who she cites as influences. I see a lot of the same behavior in her that I observed in Madonna when she first appeared on the scene, though not as problematically. Madonna famously bragged about being confused for a black artist, which is ridiculous, but even she chalks up to youthful bravado. Perhaps the same will be true of Gaga. She's a young artist with a lot of career ahead of her. Across the artistic spectrum, folks take bits of their heroes in order to find their own way. Gaga isn't the first or won't be the last to do that. But what I found fascinating about this post and Gaga as a whole is how the discourse around her is much more critical than it would be if she were a man. That is the aspect of Gaga's fame I find endlessly annoying and intriguing. I also appreciate the way in which ou critiques the pop culture ou consumes (lots of people don't) and provides incredibly thoughtful analysis of it.
________________________________________
Snarky's Machine, your friendly comment moderator
Did someone say Comments Policy?

“I have never seen it , but by all accounts i

"Madonna famously bragged

"Madonna famously bragged about being confused for a black artist"

That is the most bizarre thing I've heard all day.

"[August 1984] A lot of

"[August 1984] A lot of people thought that I was a black artist before they saw my videos, because a lot of my music is more R&B oriented, and I think that I'm a white artist doing R&B music, getting played on pop stations. And I think that the kind of records I make are really changing people's ideas of splitting up and categorizing artists and I think that's opening ways for black and white artists as well."

(source).

I remember seeing this video when I was a kid. Though I'm not sure if it was on American Bandstand or MTV. I do know that nobody thought this except Madonna.

________________________________________
Snarky's Machine, your friendly comment moderator
Did someone say Comments Policy?

re: appropriation

I like to think of Lady Gaga as being like Quentin Tarantino in that they both borrow existing concepts or ideas and work around that, which is why the Telephone video is pretty much perfect. Of course, some people really hate Tarantino because of his "stealing" so I kind of expected the same with Gaga.

I think the difference with

I think the difference with QT is he's pretty up front about his influences, in a way I haven't observed with Gaga. He will gleefully tell you more than you want to know about every single pop culture element referenced in his work. This doesn't negate criticisms of the misappropriation found in his work, but it does, however, demonstrate the difference between him and Gaga. Well and the fact as a male, he's less likely to have his artistry called into question in the first place.

________________________________________
Snarky's Machine, your friendly comment moderator
Did someone say Comments Policy?

pretty strange take on gaga

pretty strange take on gaga feminism here: http://terrorpeople.org/?p=372

Moderation and this thread

Hello everyone,

I see that several of you are taking issue with our comments policy. I'm sorry to hear that, but the policy was implemented as a response to feedback from our readers that they wanted a stricter policy and more moderation from us. Moderating comments that are off-topic, rude, or make our guest bloggers uncomfortable is the name of our game here (and yes, that includes comments from people demanding more information when it is not appropriate to do so).

We do appreciate reader feedback in this space, but we will not be reducing our comment moderation. Please feel free to email me if you have specific questions about the policy and why it was implemented, but do not use this thread (which is supposed to be about Lady Gaga) to launch an in-depth (derailing) critique of the comment moderation policies on the Bitch blogs.
____________
Kelsey Wallace, web editor

Ask me about our Comments Policy!

____________
Kelsey Wallace, contributor

Ask me about our Comments Policy!

Ownership in Construction...

I, like many, am on the fence about Lady Gaga.

My main problem is there seems to be a disconnect between her music and the image she has cultivated for herself. Despite her "avant garde" public personality, it seems her music is stereotypically pop. I heard her music before I saw what is "Gaga" and dismissed it as just another pop song, for her feminist or other ideals don't appear to carry over into the lyrics.

Also, as to her "avant garde" public personality, due to the fact that she is backed by a label, I am suspicious as to what percentage is her ownership and the rest brought on by the label. We tend to constantly see in pop culture what was considered truly pushing the envelope is watered down and recycled to the masses by said corporations. Consider Jackson Pollock-his abstract paintings were crazy-shocking initially, but after some time passed, people could buy wallpaper designed after his abstract paintings to decorate their homes.

Oh my stars, people,

Oh my stars, people, seriously? I step away for a day because I'm a busy working person (as are many of you) and I come back to find that this comments thread has gone to hell in a handbasket all because someone decided the Change article I linked didn't provide sufficient evidence for my statement that Gaga's work is appropriative? Accusations of 'bad journalism' even! I'll be sure to tell my edito--oh, wait, she's right here.

I stand firmly behind the Change article as a valid starting point for discussing Gaga's appropriative aspects; I am talking about cultural appropriation from marginalised groups, not remixing/referencing works of art in a derivative way (e.g., while Gaga is clearly inspired by the work of Madonna, that's not appropriation in the sense the word is being used in in this piece), and that article contains a very clear statement: '...in Gaga's case, much of her popularity is based on styles and sounds that were created by artists of color.' And goes on to provide several examples with supportive quotes from the artists involved. This is a historic problem in pop music produced by white folks, as discussed briefly in the Change article and pieces like this and this and, well, this Wikipedia article if you want a quick overview on the topic.

But, duly noted, here's a starting point of articles on Gaga and appropriation:

A contrarian view of Lady Gaga
How do you solve a problem like Lady Gaga?
Not so Gaga: Fashion and cultural appropriation
and, of course, Annaham's piece on appropriation of disability imagery, already linked in the article.

Next time, try giving post authors a chance to actually catch up on comments before accusing them of 'refusing to respond' and whining about it in anonymous LJ communities, eh?

Thank you. I appreciate your

Thank you. I appreciate your time to provide those links.

Never heard Lady Gaga before

I have never heard a Lady Gaga song in my life, so I'm not familiar enough with her body of work to pull up examples of appropriation. (Not that it was hard to believe such a thing would happen or to imagine possibilities.) These links helped someone like me who is fascinated by Lady Gaga: The Concept but totally ignorant of Lady Gaga: The Execution.

I know we're not supposed to be pop-culture outsiders here, but I am, both by choice and circumstance. I do love your columns; I just find it more interesting to read analysis of pop culture than actually consume it. Though sourcing this exhaustively can unfortunately work to mollycoddle potential derailers, it also provides a crib sheet to those who may be able to unpack issues of appropriation on their own, but don't have the specific references to an artist's body of work with which to do it. Thanks for the legwork.

Ok, people

I am going through this thread and clearing out all references to the moderation policy (please note that your comments will be saved, just not visible to the public) because this thread is not an open thread for discussing moderation on Bitch, it is a thread for discussing the topics brought up in the original post. If you would like to discuss the handling of comment moderation here, please use email, and consider asking the Bitch Blogging crew to host an open thread to discuss moderation issues if you would feel more comfortable with that medium.

Please refrain from using my comment threads as referendums on the comment policy at Bitch in the future.

Comments about comments

Hi everyone,

As s.e. stated above, this is not the place to discuss comment moderation. We do want to hear your thoughts (just not here because this post is about Lady Gaga) so please send them my way.

Thanks!
____________
Kelsey Wallace, web editor

Ask me about our Comments Policy!

____________
Kelsey Wallace, contributor

Ask me about our Comments Policy!

What happened to the open

What happened to the open thread about comment moderation? You had a post on here, just an hour or so ago, saying that y'all had set up an open thread for discussion of comment moderation, and you provided a link to the open thread. At least 10 comments were posted on that thread, but now when I try to access it, it's non-existent. I appreciated the openness of that thread and the willingness of Bitch to hear critique. What happened?

Same here

I was just about to ask the same thing myself.

Open thread

Hi there,

The thread was hidden from the home page for a few reasons. Please send comments my way via email. We are more than open to critique and do want to hear your thoughts, I promise you.

Thanks!
____________
Kelsey Wallace, web editor

Ask me about our Comments Policy!

____________
Kelsey Wallace, contributor

Ask me about our Comments Policy!

Response

Hi there,

After a meeting this afternoon, the editorial staff at Bitch (myself, Kjerstin Johnson, Andi Zeisler, and our executive director Julie Falk) decided that it would be best to continue to discuss the issues with comment moderation in a closed forum (e.g., via email) as opposed to an open one. I apologize for the confusion but I want to let you know that we are reading and considering all comments. We are also reading the Live Journal thread, which is itself serving as an open forum to discuss this issue.

Whitney, I also want to remind you that Snarky is a volunteer here. She is not paid for her time, and she helps us moderate out of her desire to support this organization. No one's perfect and it's fine to express your frustration, but please do keep that information in mind.
____________
Kelsey Wallace, web editor

Ask me about our Comments Policy!

____________
Kelsey Wallace, contributor

Ask me about our Comments Policy!

I tried to figure out the

I tried to figure out the best place to put this comment because it is in response to several of the things said in this thread (or, at the very least, would continue some of the subthreads in this thread), but the whole thing is so womperjawed I can't figure that out. So...here goes.

I get why it's problematic for Madonna to brag that she's mistaken for a black artist. And I understand the argument stated earlier that appropriation and misappropriation are two different things. But I am not clear on how the appropriation pointed to in this post is misappropriation by those standards. It appears that it is labeled misappropriation because the people from whom she's taken were not white. But the quotes in that article from Grace Jones and MIA don't point out anything about race--they just point to her as a copycat. I'm having a hard time understanding what is misappropriative about it unless it's the fact that she doesn't attribute her sources. I'm not a musician myself, but I know several, and they just seem to hear sounds they like, take those sounds, and turn them into something new. It's the nature of creative influence. I don't know that people who've been influenced always even know what sounds they've been influenced by; we're exposed to so much input on a continual basis, it might be like dreams in that everything gets mashed up in our brains and comes out in a different form. I suppose what I'm saying is that I'm not sure that in this specific case it's even that calculated. Again, main issue--I'm not sure how it's misappropriative and not appropriative in this specific case.

Found my own example

Found an example of appropriation that might help others understand, via my culture is not a trend: In Lady Gaga's "Just Dance" video, an extra wears a Native war headpiece as a fashion accessory. Apparently, for Gaga, sporting hipster trends in her videos is more important than standing for a feminism that doesn't willfully exploit and trample other marginalized groups.

This reminds me of when my friends in 9th grade were all wearing Buddhist prayer bead bracelets, as was the trend at the time. It was disgusting to me, even though I had never heard a lick of race theory, that an artifact with religious and cultural significance to a certain group of people was trivialized into an accessory for the consumption of middle class American teens.

I guess what I am telling certain commenters on this thread is that you should know appropriation when you see it, and if you believe that cultures deserve more respect than to be sampled like an all-you-can-eat buffet, then it will provoke a gut reaction in you.

This comment thread has been closed.

This comment thread has been closed. This is not a thread to discuss comment moderation.

** If you would like to discuss comment moderation, please send an email directly to the Bitch Media web staff with your thoughts. **

____________
Kjerstin Johnson, Web content manager
Did someone say "Comments Policy"?

____________
Kjerstin Johnson, editor-in-chief
Did someone say "Comments Policy"?