Another day, another female pop star denouncing feminism. Whereas last time, it was Taylor Swift who was telling us to never (ever, ever) call her a feminist, this time we have human confetti cannon Katy Perry climbing into the ring. While accepting the Billboard award for Woman of the Year, Perry had this to say: "I am not a feminist, but I do believe in the strength of women."
— Billboard(@billboard) November 30, 2012
(Hi Katy Perry! At its most simple definition, all feminism means is that you think that women should be equal to men, okay? Cool, thanks, byyyyye!)
While the ignorance and ridiculousness of Perry's comments — especially in the context of accepting the Woman of the Year award — is enough to set the teeth of any feminist on edge, can we really be surprised? Katy Perry is a successful woman in a previously male dominated industry (which is nothing to scoff at), but, other than that, has she ever done anything that represents basic feminist principles?
I am going to take a deep breath and be brave now: I like Katy Perry's music. I'm not saying it's good ("Do you ever feel like a plastic bag?"), I'm saying that I like it. But never, in any of my times listening to Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection have I thought "What a powerful message of feminism!" And maybe that's because Katy Perry — unfortunately — is not a feminist. 2008's "I Kissed a Girl" is about a woman who starts making out with another girl for the benefit of her boyfriend. Turns out, she likes it, but even that is just fodder for male masturbation fantasies. 2010's "Teenage Dream" is about a girl who's "brought to life" by a dude. The video for 2012's "Part of Me" is about a woman who joins the Marines because she's sad her boyfriend broke up with her. (The video also had feminist author Naomi Wolf calling for a boycott.) And for something aimed at young girls (her main demographic), "Last Friday Night" has some of the most questionable lyrics of any pop song to come out in the past 10 years:
There's a stranger in my bed
There's a pounding in my head
Glitter all over the room
Pink flamingos in the pool
I smell like a minibar
DJ's passed out in the yard
Barbies on the barbeque
Is this a hickey or a bruise?
Did KP get date raped? MAYBE, but, hey, she's pretty sure it ruled! Damn.
This is a woman who had a special bra created so that she could spray whipped cream from her tits. If she's who you're looking towards as a representative of feminism (or as someone who can even understand the basic concept of feminism), then you're bound to be disappointed. Does all this mean that I don't want Katy Perry to come around and one day be able to say "Look, assholes. I'm a feminist and if you don't like it you can eat my candy coated vagina" with confidence? Of course not. It would be great if she said that (really, it would be GREAT), but girl has to walk the walk before we can even expect her to talk the talk.