Return to Gaga

To follow from earlier discussion of Lady Gaga, this lecture gives probably the best account I’ve heard about why I should be excited to live in the Gaga era. The discussion of Gaga herself comes in the last 3 minutes or so, but there’s some fascinating points made on gender-revolution in the middle, and the bit at the start about

“When you see something and you know this is feminism, but you don’t know why.”

…is just awesome.

For me this what is really exciting about feminism. It’s about completely changing and eliminating concepts and categories. Why does the queer movement often try to prop up unimportant institutions like marriage, rather than push them aside? Of course I don’t think that people who want to get married should be prevented from doing so, or even that marriage needs to be entirely eliminated, but what’s really exciting about feminism is the idea that we don’t need to fix a broken world, we need to build a new world. Marriage doesn’t need to be important, if we don’t want it to be.


  1. Kep

    “Why does the queer movement often try to prop up unimportant institutions like marriage, rather than push them aside?”

    I think a “queer movement” is a bit of an imaginary construction here. True to say that a good number of gay and lesbian activists (in the US in particular) have gone out all for ‘marriage equality’, and that it’s a populist issue, but it’s never been a homogenous debate. It seems bizarre to me, considering the intertwined development of lesbianism and feminism, to suggest that a feminist critique of marriage isn’t part of the configuration of ‘queer’. Though ironically, I suppose a lot of people would see ‘queer’ as something opposed to earlier constructions…(meh) Moreover, queer studies have developed some amazing critiques of the family/marriage/kinship over the past few decades, some of which are directly inspired by feminist theory (say, Butler’s Antigone’s Claim), others less so (Lee Edelman’s No Future).

  2. Kep

    NB Butler’s Antigone’s Claim is blates also a feminist critique…

  3. John

    I’m not sure the speaker is trying to present the queer movement as either homogenous or separate from feminism. Hence the “often” qualifier in the quote you picked out. I think the speaker agrees (as do I) that the feminist critique of marriage is a part of the configuration of “queer”, or at least it should be – just that *often* gay rights activists don’t behave as if it was. Hence the lack of homogeneity in the queer movement. Defs an important point to bear in mind – well raised!

  4. John

    Also, just to say, the Times just got the best Gaga-experience/interview article ever, the lucky bastards:

    This paragraph struck me:

    The video [for the next single] is about the “purity of my friendships with my gay friends”, Gaga had explained, earlier. “And how I’ve been unable to find that with a straight man in my life. It’s a celebration and an admiration of gay love – it confesses my envy of the courage and bravery they require to be together. In the video I’m pining for the love of my gay friends – but they just don’t want me.”

    Do we think gay love is more admirable than straight love? Stupid distinction, right?

  5. Vicky Woolley

    I think it is a stupid distinction: I can’t help but feel that those sort of comments cast her ‘gay friends’ in the role of ‘other’. Whether that ‘other’ is being admired or not, I don’t feel that’s really helpful. Also, we should be capable of having friendships with men without getting worked up over whether they ‘want’ us or not?

    • clare mohan

      It’s like the whole “some of my best friends are black/gay/[other]” defence of prejudice, really, I suppose. Or at least Vicky, you’re right, it certainly marks a distinction between gay and straight.

      I also really dislike the idea that gay love is more admirable. Yes, obviously in the current world climate (and in particular countries) being gay carries a huge stigma and/or life sentence, so to come out as gay is difficult; to sustain a relationship in the face of huge prejudice is difficult, that deserves recognition.

      But marking a distinction between the two ‘types’ of love, as it were, seems to me to be demeaning of both. Ideally, there should be no distinction drawn, as far as I can see. If they’re seen as being ‘types’ rather than just ‘love’, then that still opens up the way for other-ing, which is often negative. When I’ve been in love with women in the past I don’t see it as being in any way different from being in love with the men I’ve loved. It’s equally beautiful, when it goes right, and equally painful, when it goes wrong. The idea that one is more admirable than the other is something I find at least weird if not distasteful. And it also leaves me feeling like I have a split personality somewhere down along the line…

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