Lady Gaga

Since her start as a performance artist and singer, Lady Gaga has been extremely outspoken through her music and concerts about her support for LGBTQ equality.  She tends to stray away from society’s “norm” by the way she looks, acts, and dresses.  She has so much influential power because of her fame, so she decides to use that power to express herself and to help others feel comfortable expressing themselves as well.  She even said that “I’m just trying to change the world, one sequin at a time.”  For example, she was the first singer to reference the LGBTQ at the Super Bowl half time show.  She has also participated in multiple equality marches.  It has been her goal to get people talking and to feel more comfortable with the entire community, especially since Lady Gaga herself has come out as bisexual.  She wants men and women to be able to dress and act however they desire without feeling judged by people.  This is why she wears outrageous outfits, because she wants to show people it is okay to be different and it can be accepted.  She is one of many celebrities who use their fame as a way to try to make a difference particularly in the LGBTQ community.  Jack Halberstam’s focuses on Gaga Feminism because Lady Gaga does a good job at embodying ideas of sex and gender and breaking away from society’s fixed roles that men and women are supposed to have.  Lady Gaga resists being put in a bubble or a category.  She does whatever she feels like and she has zero shame.  This is why she has such a strong fan base and support system behind her and why Halberstam chooses her to help better represent and explain feminism, sex, and gender.

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Munoz: Utopia & the Stages to it

Today in lecture we discussed Munoz’s writing about “stages” and the Utopian performative. This reading really caught my eye to talk about for this blog post because it’s an idea/theory that I’ve never pondered on before. To be honest, when I first read the title and even once I got a good way through the writing, I thought there was only a negative connotation to the idea of “stages”. Munoz touches on this when he explains how the idea of “stages” intersects with unaccepting, or confused parents dealing with their child coming out as homosexual. He writes, “…how they sometimes protect themselves [parents] from the fact of queerness by making it a “stage,” a developmental hiccup, a moment of misalignment that will, hopefully, correct itself or be corrected by savage pseudoscience and coercive religion, sometimes masquerading as psychology.”  I’m pretty sure anyone who’s ever came out as gay, lesbian, or anything straying from heteronormativity has dealt with this very real “stage”. But I do think that with time this stage will probably/hopefully start to occur less and less, because I am an optimist and hope that queerness will eventually be more accepted. However, not all stages are as somber. We discussed in class how these stages can represent opportunity, the spot light, and performance in a really positive light. There’s opportunity to perform on a stage where you can be yourself and who you are in that moment. Most people are fluid and constantly changes and a stage is a snapshot or performance of ones self at a particular time, but not permanent. Punk/ queer people intersect with their ability to not conform to societal norms, and I think that’s why Munoz picked these two subcultures and expanded on the idea of using a stage to “perform” and aim for this utopia. I overall thought that he was saying there are stages in which queer/punk men perform/go through, aiming to reach this idea of a true utopian performativity, although all stages may not be perfect. I feel like this reading could have been interpreted many different ways, so please let me know what you guys think, am I way off??

The Ideal Vs. the Reality

While all of the readings in this class have been interesting to say the least—the writing that sticks with me most is Audre Lorde’s “Age, Race, Sex and Class.” Out of all the authors, Lorde’s background is the one I identify with most. She covered a lot of topics in this publication and criticized society for things I am guilty myself of. Specifically, I am referring to the part of her essay where she suggests that those who are outsiders, typically harbor resentment towards individuals who fall outside of the “mythical norm” in opposite ways. This message stands out to me, and I see this type of behavior throughout the day in life and extensively on social media. From the impoverished people who don’t like gays to the immigrant who says racists things, or the gay guy who looks down on those who are uneducated.  This behavior is unsettling, and as Lorde put it, those who have been oppressed will not escape their status by demeaning other groups of oppressed people.

There as so few people who fit perfectly into these ideal standards—young, straight, educated, white, attractive, financially secure, Christian male. Yet, at some point in everyone’s life it is so tempting to try to align his or herself with them.  While the few individuals who do fit perfectly, or almost perfectly, into these categories he or she is not inherently bad or evil. Still as history has shown us, people who benefit from the oppression of others will do everything in their power to continue to reap the rewards. Truly the oppressors have won by turning minorities against each other—they taught us to hate ourselves and to hate our differences.  The solution to this dilemma is to accept everyone, and together minorities can create an unstoppable force against inequality. As simple as this sounds, I could not imagine in a thousand years that such a thing could ever occur.  Hate is immensely powerful and it’s everywhere, as so is fear and insecurity.  In small groups people can get along, but we have yet to find a way to do so on a large scale.

As pessimistic as I may sound, this is my perspective of society. From incidents I’ve witnessed, and experiences I’ve lived through, and  from reading Audre Lorde’s take on this thirty years ago and realizing how much it still applies to our world now.

Does academia = expertise?

For this week’s blog post I’d like to focus of the Forbes reading, “Do These Earrings Make Me Look Dumb?” It detailed an account of a transsexual woman who also is a scientist and an acclaimed academic. In her account, she discussed the hurdles and curiosities presented when speaking of gender. However, the curiosity did not stem from lack of knowledge but rather, acquiring the title of speaking of it at an expert level. Since she was not “professionally” taught on the subject, there’s some speculation on whether or not she’s considered an expert. I chose this reading because I felt that this situation can be universal and portrayed in so many other scenarios. For example, I, as a African-American, consider myself well-read when it comes to my race (part of my identity) however, I’ve got the feeling that I may not comment on the subject due to my lack of academic training on the subject. Perhaps, though, since I’ve grown and lived within the race and am the ultimate ethnographer for my own life, I have the merit to speak on the subject at non-expert but equal level that academics do. I may not use the same language as they do but I’ve been immersed in the culture and race my whole life and I believe that there is essential understanding that’s coupled with that upbringing that need not require an academic training to speak at an expert level. Regarding the reading, I readily believe that Forbes is probably eligible to speak on gender as an academic expert. That being said, it may be more direct to say that she’d be able to identify and elaborate on maybe a cohort of gender and not the theory itself. I’m not sure. However, I ultimately believe that having an academic background is not required for one to speak as an expert on any topic. Learning takes place everywhere, everyday, and even when we don’t realize. Thoughts?

Two weeks overview…

In less than two weeks, our class has read and discussed articles, essays, as well as a TED talk show, from a variety of feminist leaders. We have used feminism as an introduction and a means to better understand the study of sexuality and gender.

Starting with our first assigned reading, we learned from Lorde that feminism encompasses more than just equality among men and women. For many women (myself included) are targets of oppression because of our race, sexual orientation, class, nationality, etc. Often times, individuals, who don’t perfectly fit into to what Lorde names the “mythical norm, only acknowledge equality among those differences that specifically apply to them, in vain hope of aligning themselves with the suppressors. She reiterates that this noninclusive mentality halts the progress of equality for all women.

In Gayle Rubin’s essay “The Traffic in Women,” Rubin refuted several perspectives of human behavior—including Marxism, Kinship and Psychoanalysis. The biggest qualm Rubin had with Kinship is that women were viewed as gifts and men were the gift givers—meaning women did not have the same rights as men nor would they realize any notable benefits from being exchanged.

Then, we viewed Confessions of a bad feminist, a Ted Talk by Roxanne Gay, and bell hooks critical review of Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In. While I find hook’s critique of Lean In necessary, after watching Gay’s Ted Talk, I would not go as far to call Sandberg a “faux-feminist.” Sandberg’s book may not be perfect, and she may just be a bad feminist—yes, that’s okay. Even while, I would rather hear her be more inclusive of all women, I believe she is playing to her target audience. For her, I am thankful she has been so successful, and would look forward to seeing her mature as a feminist, who could one day be a role model to women of many different backgrounds.

Most recently we have read “The Technology of Gender,” and of all the readings, this one most closely examines the relationship between sex and gender and the possibility of the absence of either label. The author, Teresa De Lauretis, talks about how gender is both a social and self representation. How it was learned will ultimately effect how it will be deconstructed.

Thanks for reading—have a great weekend!