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>