by Rhian Sasseen on January 28, 2013
We’ve come a long way, baby. In the twenty-first century, the American woman has a bevy of career paths and a plethora of domestic options from which to choose. She can try and fail to have it all. She can start a lady blog. She can even, if the mood strikes her, take her cues from Lady Gaga. The only thing the contemporary American woman can’t do, it would seem, is be overtly political – after all, feminism is about having fun, right?
American feminism, in all its various waves and iterations, has long held an uneasy truce with pop culture, but these days it’s us, not them, that are doing the co-opting. The era of de-fanged riot grrls and empty invocations of “girl power” has come to a close; in its place, the third wave’s relationship with mainstream pop culture, particularly pop music, is that of fawning adulation – or Stockholm Syndrome. “Subversion,” a term borrowed from the ivory tower, is now ascribed to every female singer with a 4/4 beat and a hook about drinking, though it is in the context of one figure that this particular hypocrisy stands out the most: the oft-mentioned Lady Gaga. As a twenty-two year old woman – a member of the exact demographic that so many older third wavers try to pander to – I fail to see anything revolutionary about a thin, blonde, upper middle class white woman with a penchant for ripping off Madonna (herself an earlier example of this trend.) But don’t tell this to Jezebel. Don’t tell this to Salon. And whatever you do, don’t tell this to the theorist J. Jack Halberstam, author of the recent Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender, and the End of Normal.