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Lady Gaga’s G.U.Y as gender subversion

What can I say, I’m a fan! If you haven’t noticed from the previous Gaga post, and that time I went to her concert. I like her a lot. She’s many things, but boring is not one of them. Considered is another. I think she puts a lot more effort into what she does than she’s given credit for.
Disclaimer: I’m not going to enter the feminist debate. I think it has many facets and Lady Gaga, while not perfect, does uphold tenets of it by doing her own thing, unashamedly. She also promotes gay and trans rights, although often criticized for using it as a gimmick and pandering to those demographics for publicity. Who knows? I like it and any voice that promotes women doing what they want, and a voice for gay and transgendered individuals is refreshing, and subversive in its existence.
The video: Read Vigilant Citizen’s take on the video here for the paranoid illuminati angle. Essentially I agree with everything they said. It tracks her fall from grace, shot down by her management. She works her way back, with the assistance of her team (the Haus) and she build herself up, literally, and extracts the DNA from other guys, i.e. Jesus and Gandhi. She clones a new team and takes revenge on the people who took her down in the first place.

______

But on to gender.  I would argue that the song, specifically, is the pinnacle of her promotion of gender and sexuality empowerment and promotion. The very mention of gender and sexuality is subversive in itself, the reason why I love drag queens and anyone who is open and honest about sexuality. What Gaga does is take it one step further by embedding messages within the music.
One such message is that of the flexibility of gender norms.
I could be accused of reading too deeply, but what I hear when I listen to G.U.Y is a conflation of gender roles, as well as empowering of gay traditional roles.

She did it with her gender subversion as drag king at the 2011 Mtv VMAs, as her alter ego Joe Calderone.

 

This is my reading of G.U.Y, as she says herself in the title track ARTPOP: “My ARTPOP could mean anything”

What Gaga displays is an aggressive sexuality, not always typical of female pop stars. The problem with this representation is that it still panders to what the male gaze expects of feminine sexuality. I concede. Other critiques of her slate her for her foray into the grotesque, and her costumes, calling her vacuous and obvious, et al

What I like about G.U.Y is that, for starters, the proximity of the title to her name is in itself commendable.
I wanna be the girl under you (oh yeah)
I wanna be your G.U.Y. (yeah)

Later, she says

I’m gonna wear the tie, want the power to leave you
I’m aiming for full control of this love (of this love)

This is the part that problematizes my reading as one of female empowerment, as well as sexuality. This is an inversion that we need more of in a patriarchal world, where men are still scared to take their female partners last names, or to be the stay-at-home dad.

A woman who calls herself a guy is big in its rebellious, while many might call it trite.

The bridge goes:

I don’t need to be on top
To know I’m worth it
‘Cause I’m strong enough to know the truth
I just want it to be hot
Because I’m best when I’m in love
And I’m in love with you

This is the line that made me consider the song as sexuality empowering, particularly “bottom” gay (or supposedly submissive) individuals, especially males. Even though she explains what G.U.Y stands for, the acronym as a free standing word remains, and hence makes the subject a male under someone else, particularly in reference to the above lyric.
As I’ve previously mentioned, there is still a serious problem with perceptions of tops and bottoms in the gay world, which could, unfortunately translate to male vs. female relations in which the female, supposedly submissive (the bottom) is seen as weaker.

What I think she is saying is that the bottom does not need to be on top to be respected and worth it. Perceived submissiveness need not be equated to weakness.  I cant account for the rest of the bridge, but sex does sell. However, it does point to a frailty and humanity that comes with being as strong as one has to when fighting systems like she does. Patriarchy is an organization that can exhaust one and make you forget yourself.

It takes guts (not balls) to fight the power. So that’s it. As always, I’m keen to hear what my readers think.

Watch the video here:

<p>Author <a href=”https://plus.google.com/102128103971030481396” target=”blank” rel=”author”>Jerome Cornelius</a></p>

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Can rape be a LOL?

“I felt like Jodie Foster in The Accused” is how the line went. It was Wedding Crashers and Vince Vaughn made this rape joke after a young boy tried to assault him.

Funny? I laughed, really loud. Yet I am a gender activist and try to speak out on issues with regards to gender violence and harassment. So, does this make me hypocrite or just human with a cheeky sense of humour?

I recently attended a dinner party and I raised this very issue. Opinions were, as always, strong and divided.

At this point I’ll do a quick saucy sidebar and remind my readers that I do not shy away from being imperfect and admittedly do and say hypocritical things. I am human and try to learn from mistakes.

I recall hearing 5fm DJ Gareth Cliff making a joke on the radio many years ago about how he wished he was abused as a child so he could be rich like Oprah Winfrey. Again, funny! But oh so distasteful. I wasn’t sure whether to commend myself for recognising the tactlessness of the joke, or reprimanding myself for laughing at all.

Recently comedian Ricky Gervais made a rape joke on Twitter. His stance against criticism was that if you don’t like it, look away. This was a similar argument with regards to his atheism and the mass reactions against his statements on that. Quite the rape connoisseur, he also made this gaff at the Edinburgh festival this year with regards to a joke on drunk driving:

“I’ve done it once and I’m really ashamed of it. It was Christmas – I’d had a couple of drinks and I took the car out. But I learned my lesson. I nearly killed an old lady. In the end I didn’t kill her. In the end, I just raped her.”

Valid, or insensitive? Again, I’m in the middle. If I heard the joke, I’d probably laugh uncomfortably because this is my first reaction. Well, not that specific one cause it wasn’t very good. However, in hindsight (sometimes) I’d feel guilty and question myself and the situation. Exciting, right? I’m a real comedian in the making!!  My funny boner is raging.

I know that we have come a long way as a society (this is meant to be sarcastic for those of you not as finely attuned to this yet) with our notions of celebrity and what is decent or subtle. One could argue that I’m part of the problem with the photos I posted from my recent surgery. Although in my defense, there were worse pictures available.

Is it worth asking where to draw the line, or should there even be a line at all with these sensitive issues? Comedians are often seen as the jesters of society, saying the things that we are too scared to. Maybe we need them to highlight issues in a candid way so that we have a chance to discuss and debate, much like I am doing now.

 

<p>Author <a href=”https://plus.google.com/102128103971030481396” target=”blank” rel=”author”>Jerome Cornelius</a></p>

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That Thing Called Sex

I had a conversation with friends regarding this. That. The unspeakable act.

Does it warrant an entire blog post? Let’s see.

My idea is actually about the conflation of love with sex. Why do we mash this carnal act with that thing where we lose our minds and our hearts melt into ooze?

[A previous post on my take on “Love” can be viewed here –http://wp.me/p2cY2A-1l ]

Here’s a useful analogy of my own (it could be a little crude for those with vivid imaginations): I describe it as the ultimate hug. You know when you hug someone? Sure you do! It feels warm and comforting and it’s the best thing ever. You can’t get enough. You also can’t get close enough. You squeeze and squeeze and you embrace until all notions of personal space are destroyed [I’m still talking about hugging here, for those who may have wandered off]

Sex cures this need to get closer as you can’t get closer than that.

Love is similar as you want to be inside of the person in more than a physical way. You want them closer and you never want them to leave, no matter what. Except it is more than just that physical hug. That, combined with the actual sex, is the ultimate sense of what I think love might be.

I also think that there is no one single idea or definition. However, I also think that this is the root of the problem with love and sex. People enter relationships thinking that they would be involved in it in the conventional sense.  They think that this is what they want. You know the kind that parents have on sitcoms and family dramas; the nuclear family that was the result of meeting your soul mate and having kids and settling down.

But let’s not blame the media alone. This is a very appealing picture and I’m sure many people still want it. But that restlessness seems to inevitably kick in and we can’t help but sample more of those ultimate hugs.

That feeling of the ultimate hug is carried over and confused with the oozy love part. Why stick around and do the work when you can just keep getting the hug? So I do see the appeal of hopping from one to the other.  However, let us stop confusing one with the other. Happy experimenting though, but please Floor Jawers, be careful not to hurt anyone in the process.

And my apologies for all the oozing.

<p>Author <a href=”https://plus.google.com/102128103971030481396” target=”blank” rel=”author”>Jerome Cornelius</a></p>

Vagina vs The World (Aluta a labia)

I started this post as a typical male versus female topic.  Yes, it is still relevant and always will be a hot button topic. Then I read Whiplash by Tracey Farren (2008, Modjaji Books). Wow.

The novel describes the life of a prostitute in Muizenberg. The setting of a crumbling seaside community provides the backdrop for the gritty, emotional story. Now, as a student who is engaged with issues regarding gender and sexuality, my mind got racing. I won’t give anything away, because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who MUST read this novel (boys AND girls). I got a deeper appreciation for the opposition between the sexes.

The problem between us and them is that there are only two. The age old “Us and Them.” Even effeminate men and masculine women are not given scope to deviate, or else.  Women are the inferior sex and men are the strong ones. The hunters who must protect the weak child bearers.   Bullshit, right? Nothing I’m saying is exactly revolutionary, right? Well here comes the turn: women ask for it.

I hear jeers and boos and I’m sure that people will just shut down when they hear something like this. Before this gets controversial, let me make it clear that this is a black/white thing, or in this case, male/female.  I absolutely hate it when people say that things are too oppositional and then ignore the grey nuances. But come on, sometimes things are divided by a line and one must take a stand. And this is a blog; I only have this much space before I bore you. How are we ever going to get to the root if we don’t provoke?

My issue:

This was spurned by the novel in which many of the women are predictably treated terribly, but specifically a part where a health care practitioner holds back a valuable piece of information for the sake of the ego of a colleague. She then proceeds to do the procedure behind his back, leaving him to claim the credit, and her as the woman in the background. To me, she would be superior, no questions asked.

Why the hell are women still acting submissively to men? This is something I ask women often when they act independently and say that they do NOT need a man and start snapping their fingers and working their neck muscles if you even but suggest it.

“Then why did you take his surname?” I ask.” Uhm… Uh… well, that’s different. Marriage is a different issue” I often get as a response.

Then my other favourite, from these same women, who work hard in the workplace yet often say that they “need a man, for, you know…” (And this is the part where you use your imagination).

Then I ask why they don’t just masturbate and cut out the middle man altogether (so much for that imagination) and suddenly I’m Satan him-/herself for even allowing those words to leave my filthy misogynist mouth.

I am not a defender of females, nor am I betrayer of men or even a hater of feminists. Although I can see how easy it is to confuse me with all of the above, I’m just so sick of the status quo. Has this one issue not been around long enough for us to have a shift in thinking?

Bottom line: nothing will ever change if women keep bowing to men.

 

<p>Author <a href=”https://plus.google.com/102128103971030481396” target=”blank” rel=”author”>Jerome Cornelius</a></p>

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