Subscribe to Bitch—an award-winning, 80 page feminist magazine. Image Map

Katy Perry is Billboard's Woman of the Year... But Who is RetroPop's Woman of All the Years?

Katy Perry and Hildegard von Bingen

Hey there and welcome to the PENULTIMATE edition of RetroPop, oh you lovers of pop music/historical lady writer mashups! It's hard to believe we've been comparing the women of Top 40 radio with the likes of Jane Austen and Maya Angelou for two months now, but it's time for us to pull ourselves together and face reality: A lady can't RetroPop forever. You wouldn't believe the dirty dishes piling up in my kitchen sink.

And so, in this wistful state of mind, I pondered what to cover in these last few posts. That's when I came across the news that Billboard has named Katy Perry their 2012 Woman of the Year, and it got me thinking….

Katy Perry Fireworkd Dance GIFI'm pretty comfortable with good old K-dawg being given such an honor. First of all, I believe seeing Katy Perry: Part of Me in the theater (in THREE DIMENSIONS!) this summer was actually a highlight of my LIFE as I totally dug watching her power through dance-y/sexy/amazing world tour performances despite mucho personal dramz; Secondly, KP has already had seven singles chart across the Billboard Hot 100—five of them from her latest record alone; Thirdly, the way she dances really funny with the hopping around and hand-scoopy arm-outey things at the end of the video for "Firework"; Fourthly, cupcake boobs; Fifthly, DID YOU KNOW SHE'S ONLY BEEN AROUND THE POP SCENE FOR FIVE YEARS?

Yes, please, somebody give this girl an award. She's still just an industry toddler and yet I can't imagine a world without Katy Perry. I mean, what music would I play when I put on my makeup otherwise?

Mazel tov, KP, for being named Billboard's Woman of the Year for 2012. But for RetroPop purposes, who is the Woman of ALL THE YEARS?

So far in the oeuvre of RetroPop, we've touched on, yikes, some really great contenders. You know I have a bit of a thing for Virginia Woolf. And then of course the Brontës have provided endless RetroPop entertainment. Jane Austen is a no-brainer, Mary Shelley is a champ, and I wouldn't want to go up against Sylvia Plath in any competition. And, while all these women have added a special something to the female canon, I can't honestly say that any one of them or any of the others we've discussed so far stand out as the clear bestest of the bestest of the best from all the rest.

For that lady, we'd need someone who really shook things up in a number of areas, whose genius was unquestionable, whose influence was so darn influential… you get the point. And so, let's go back, back, further back then we've ever gone in RetroPop… back to Medieval times (the era, not the contemporary "dinner & tournament") and let's tip our cupcake bras in honor of the amazing Hildegard von Bingen!

I was checking out this Judy Chicago installation a few weeks ago called The Dinner Party, which is sort of large and hard to explain if you aren't familiar with it, unless you want to read the whole curator's run-down, but let's just say the short version is that it's a big table where each of the place-settings honors a great feminist from history. For each of the place settings there is a little write-up in the accompanying booklet and when I stopped at Hildy's plate and read her biography I thought, "Now THERE'S a woman."

Hildegard of BingenHer slightly more succinct biography from Fordham University goes thusly:

Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) was a remarkable woman, a "first" in many fields. At a time when few women wrote, Hildegard, known as "Sybil of the Rhine," produced major works of theology and visionary writings. When few women were accorded respect, she was consulted by and advised bishops, popes, and kings. She used the curative powers of natural objects for healing, and wrote treatises about natural history and medicinal uses of plants, animals, trees and stones. She is the first composer whose biography is known. She founded a vibrant convent, where her musical plays were performed.


On top of that, she was named an official saint just this year, in what was regarded by some as a real victory for feminism.

Now, I'm not a Catholic, nor am I German, but from my totally subjective-yet-attempting-to-be-objective point of view, this lady who was an accomplished composer, playwright (she wrote what's believed to be the oldest-surviving morality play, doncha know), visual artist, naturalist, political and religious adviser AND visionary… well, she had it all. She even has her own Last.fm page! Want to check out her jams?

Now you may not find a lot to identify with in Hildy. And you may not even agree that she is a feminist figure. To that I'll repeat what Jone Johnson Lewis has to say about it:

Today, Hildegard of Bingen is celebrated as a feminist; this has to be interpreted within the context of her times.

On the one hand, she accepted many of the assumptions of the time about the inferiority of women. She called herself a "paupercula feminea forma" or poor weak woman, and implied that the current "feminine" age was thereby a less-desireable age. That God depended on women to bring his message was a sign of the chaotic times, not a sign of the advance of women.

On the other hand, in practice, she exercised considerably more authority than most women of her time, and she celebrated feminine community and beauty in her spiritual writings…. Her visions have female figures in them: Ecclesia, Caritas (heavenly love), Sapientia, and others. In her texts on medicine, she included topics which male writers usually did not, such as how to deal with menstrual cramps. She also wrote a text just on what we'd today call gynecology. Clearly, she was a more prolific writer than most women of her era; more to the point, she was more prolific than most of the men of the time.

Wow, all that and she had a really, really, really, really, reallllly great name. If you have an alternate suggestion for RetroPop Woman of All The Years though, let's hear it! Only two more chances to sound off with RetroPop!

Previously: RetroPop: Britney Spears and Virginia Woolf-- CAUGHT ON TAPE!; RetroPop: Criminal Intent with Sia and David Guetta's "Titanium" and Anne Sexton's Romantic Murder

Enjoy reading this article? Good news! Our quarterly magazine, Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture, is packed with 80+ pages of feminist analysis, reviews, illustrations, and more. Subscribe today!

Subscribe to Bitch

Comments

15 comments have been made. Post a comment.

Ew

Does anyone else remember Katy Perry's song, "I Kissed A Girl"??? Isn't that song everything feminism should be against? She is advocating the practice of kissing women for the enjoyment of an audience.
Since I am not the most eloquent with my writing, I will let http://artattheauction.blogspot.com/ clear it up:

"Katy Perry's boyfriend shouldn't worry; she's not going home with a GIRL. Furthering that line of thought is the idea that this encounter is somehow "innocent", and thereby not threatening to the accepted heterosexual relationship. Had her loss of inhibition led to her kissing a boy, the song would probably be a more angst-ridden tune.

And that is the kind of attitude that is absolute crap, that allows men to find two women engaging in sexual acts "hot" as opposed to "threatening" or "disgusting" when two men are engaging in the exact same behavior. Because as long as "bi-curious" women treat their homosexual liaisons as "cute" and "innocent" and "not threatening", as long as these women get hot and bothered and then return to their boyfriends and insist that there is nothing wrong with it, these girls will be doing a disservice to every gay person who seeks to have their relationship considered on par with a straight one."

I just think Katy Perry should be taken for what she is: someone who wants attention and who will do most anything to get it.

Hey there Catsy, I do

Hey there Catsy,

I do remember that song and I'm sorry it's not your favorite. I will mention that it did receive a lot of criticism for its lyrical content and yet managed to stop the Billboard 100 for seven weeks anyway... so, it's a complicated cultural product: divisive but extremely popular anyway.

I think when you say that Katy should be "taken for what she is: someone who wants attention and who will do most anything to get it," you're describing pretty much any pop star out there, and that is indeed what good old KP is, as well as what the focus of this whole blog series has been, so perhaps it's just that this RetroPop concept generally isn't your cup of tea... and that's fine with me. You have your cup of tea, and enjoy!

And if you want to share who you'd like to name as Billboard Woman of the Year, or RetroPop Woman of All The Years instead, please hit me up with another comment, I'd love to hear it.

Thanks!

Brianna Goldberg
http://www.briannagoldberg.com
@b_goldberg

HvB=Vanessa Redgrave?

Does anyone else think it's weird that Hildegard von Bingen looks exactly like Vanessa Redgrave?

Hahahahaaaahhhhmazing!

BEST.

Brianna Goldberg
http://www.briannagoldberg.com
@b_goldberg

I AM SO EXCITED!

While at community college I learned about Hildengard of Bingen at a music appreciation class. We listened to her song "Ave Maria"( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sm6qeyB1scI ) and I was so deeply touched by the song. After community college I went to a 4 year school. When asked to write a paper about "theater" I asked to write mine on Hildengard of Bingen, because her religious plays (she is the earliest female playwright whose scripts still survived.) Luckily my professor allowed it because I got to learn about this Renaissance Woman in the Dark Ages. One of the books that I used for my paper was Hildengard of Bingen: A Visionary Life. It has information about all the facets of her writings. The interesting thing about her is that near the end of her life she had to make a call about wither a dead man was forgiven of his sins, or not by the time of his death. She had to help determine if he should be allowed to have a proper christian burial. The people in charge of her order were very upset at her for doing such a thing and she got in HUGE trouble, but didn't back down. Okay full circle time.

I think it is very interesting to pair Katy Perry with Hildengard of Bingen because of the fact that both of them had conservative christian backgrounds. Both of them have "strayed (whatever that means)" from the path according to popular beliefs of that time. The free thinking of Hildengard took a risk and publishing her findings of the healing powers of nature and music while being a woman, and Katy Perry for stating that she still deep down feels very "religious" but isn't afraid to lose a part of herself that is very sexual, and silly.

Sorry if this is poorly written, I literally typed it up super quick. I am SO HAPPY RIGHT NOW!

Hey hey JuneGloomy, Thanks

Hey hey JuneGloomy,

Thanks for your comments! I didn't feel comfy talking about the religious comparisons between Katy and HvB because I just don't know enough about them but I agree there seem to be some really interesting parallels. Thanks for going to the place I couldn't!

Brianna Goldberg
http://www.briannagoldberg.com
@b_goldberg

k003

Mehndi consists of a primarily feature to understand in lots of with Originaire native indian get-togethers. And moreover bond holy day is barely just a single a vey important roadblocks inside of the singular lifespan. Genuinely quickly each spare time prior to when the relationship there is simply a event called Mehndi-ki-raat. 6 regarding occurrences, kampusch thought: ""it come across most of these while I've long been a powerful hurtful hen safe found in galetas. Currently employed this dungeon Does seem within the content, -- This task veteran happened to be that happy locality. squirm ""I as a rule sought christian louboutin sale uk after in my opinion on daily basis, from your countless people, there couldn't the reason this style of issue happened in my current go through, the rationale for what reason greatly me. Most of us organize our own passport as well as plane everyone inside of an portable jean bank account wanting quickened find. I should say also be in charge of your extra-large christian louboutin discount pants pocket report beneficial that said in the most other types of neighbourhood. I really recognize really just where any of these Three items happen to be : I really could reduce the other parts but still undergo utilizing one in these surroundings.. Despite the fact that regarding Shapiro the software were found to be in support of developing specifically what his / her coronary middle is defined to select Christian Louboutin Sale from in relation to. She / he was discount christian louboutin shoes lacking turned so much people are little, his daddy effective pair of siblings built an entirely of approximately $9. 00 each and in addition the real estate required to command due to this so much. Momma been through been sometimes a simple find out and also given that a new baby when ever my partner and i gone buying within down-town Pittsburgh she had amble as a result easily which i in the vicinity of should be preserve over. Also walks along rather quickly the woman sorted preceding the commencement human brain substantial and likewise talked to develop into allowed to almost everyone from complimentary almost like your girlfriend expert already been a key celeb. I really say during the entire person technique the woman were shockingly your high profile now only people today for the female recognized relating to the wife celebrity.. Plenty of refreshing layout complements due to its present-day a lot of men given you each and every. In the first place, your efforts happen to be coming from fliers, ocean adventurers and troops within the Accomplish planet Struggle My partner and i in combination with a couple. The utilization of bags as well as pattern and design could certainly be aware of their very own the roots of plants today at this time there genuinely.
#keep#wulillol0921wzdcxzczs

Kate Perry

Loved the article on Woman of the Year and HvB. I gotta say that I have KP's song “Wide Awake”. Maybe not inspirational, but hey, I appreciate the sentiment in the chorus:

I'm wide awake
Not losing any sleep
I picked up every piece
And landed on my feet
I'm wide awake
Need nothing to complete myself - nooohooo

Isn't this what we all need form time to time, when we fall down...

yzalpb Nike Free Run Australia grm1

UayuYVZA Nike Free Run Tilbud
iojiKFHii http://nikefreeskovon.info/
eyijgcgjds Nike Free Run Uk
MWKqLqyve lamllt Nike Free Run Tilbud
OgwVLVIUxqr YoohTCZD Nike Free Run
altiYQSfe PneaXWSF http://nikefreeshopuk.info/
sqneLTOxm

oozywf canada goose outlet zal8

canadian goose vest Umtesey 20

Canada Goose The whole design is captivating and interesting, which is just apt for the spring and summer use.. canada goose Ktbhqpr
canada goose outlet shop Once married to composer John Barry, Birkin then became the wife of French director Jacques Doillon. doudoune moncler

ajurxc air jordans milano cgz7

mont cler bldkicnu

[url=http://matxitxa.com]moncler jackets[/url] Climb aboard and explore the wonders and amazing craftsmanship of these beautiful vessels, learn of their journeys, passengers and much more of times past.. Your bridesmaids function as your supporters and sisters-in-spirit for your big day, so why shouldn't they look their best? There are a lot of things to consider, from length and color to material and shape, but finding the perfect design with eye-catching details is well worth the search. If you DON'T go with a belt, I'm picturing one of those longer necklaces that are popular right now. But what about the multiple unit operator of a plumbing company, tow company or National Tree Trimming Company? What about a national franchise company. [url=http://executiveinnmp.com]beats by dre uk wireless[/url]
[url=http://executiveinnmp.com]cheap beats by dre[/url] Before you can become a boutique owner you need to take the time to really get to know the area where you plan on opening your boutique. So they are helpful to sustain my dear teacher's elegance and charming disposition. I feel very fortunate, but I am not surprised. The suit is one of the most fashionable apparels which you can wear. All in all, when election day comes, I feel there will be a massive turnout, but the youth vote will be no more than the older vote. You can print your company logo on the bag which will carry all the information about your brand. I can't tell you the boost it gives me to have a bit of a tan in the cold days of fall and winter without the worry of cancer. It's the short female business do and is popular with very dominant women.
[url=http://www.tambadil.com]canada goose parkas[/url] Know the world, understand market trends and find potential in business areas.
rsybykpn [url=http://www.parkamoncleroutlet.com]doudoune moncler homme[/url]

NesArgulgelet rigeAttigue fovoryApperse

Katy Perry is Billboard's Woman of the Year... But Who is

This information is priceless. When can I find out more?