Lady Gaga: Gen Y sex icon?
Like everyone else on the internet, it seems, Lady Gaga has grown on me. But it’s not for her music (a couple of tracks aside, it’s pretty mediocre) or even for her outrageous costumes and sense of theatrics (fantastic as she is to look at). I’m a fan of Lady Gaga because of her attitude to sex, and the new model of sex positivity she represents.
It’s easy to dismiss Gaga as just another attention seeking, sexualised pop tart. At the conference I spoke at last month, one of the researchers expressed dismay that her daughters idolised Gaga and Beyonce (better oddball Gaga and insanely talented Beyonce than a lot of other pop stars, I thought). And certainly, Sam has documented in detail Gaga’s reliance on sexual “shock tactics” to draw attention to herself (I used to tell him he deserved a Walkley for ‘Continuous Coverage of Lady Gaga’).
But the problem with raunch culture isn’t that it is hyper-sexed, or even that it is showy. It’s that it can be prescriptive – especially when it’s the only story being told.
And while Gaga plays right into that script with her sound bites about orgasming on stage and the "secret lesbian meaning" of ‘Poker Face’, she departs from it in her enthusiasm for difference. She embraces her nickname “Lady Gay Gay” and is unfazed by rumours she might be intersex. She gives out condoms at her concerts, but speaks openly about how she’s not having sex herself. It’s a terrain that at first glance looks similar to that trodden by stars like Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson and Miley Cyrus, but it sounds qualitatively different coming from Gaga.
Gaga’s world is one in which “anything goes” – but that means literally anything goes. You can be gay, straight, trans, cis, sexually active, virginal, temporarily celibate… Gaga doesn’t care, so long as it makes you happy. She accepts and embraces you, and she wants you to accept and embrace yourself.
Gaga represents a truly laissez-faire approach to sexuality, one that values sexual freedom in all its manifestations.
Related: ‘Everything’s cool as long as I’m getting thinner’: how Karl de-fanged Lily Allen
Britney Spears and why it’s painful to be conventionally beautiful
Is ‘raunch culture’ real? Young adults on media and casual sex
Elsewhere: The Sex Myth
Lady Gaga: Gen Y sex icon?
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