Kathleen Hanna On Lady Gaga, Ke$ha, & Katy Perry

Illustration for article titled Kathleen Hanna On Lady Gaga, Ke$ha, & Katy Perry

When asked about how the three female pop musicians are seemingly touching on themes of gay empowerment, she says:

I mean, is it really that different when it's a skinny white woman in a bathing suit singing these things? None of these women ever wear pants, first of all. Second of all, just because you're wearing a goofy hat doesn't make it performance art. I mean, that's just my feeling about it. A lot of the music just sounds like bad Euro disco, though that first Ke$ha song 'TiK To' was good. But (Katy Perry's) 'I Kissed a Girl' was just straight-up offensive. The whole thing is like, I kissed a girl so my boyfriend could masturbate about it later. It's disgusting. It's exactly every male fantasy of fake lesbian porn. It's pathetic. And she's not a good singer. I don't want to trash other women. I mean, I think Jason Mraz is horrible. It's not just like I hate other women performers. Jason Mraz, and the new James Blunt song is the worst thing that has ever been created on the face of the Earth."


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I mean... she's right, yeah? Lady Gaga, Kesha, Katy Perry are all standard, run-of-the-mill pop artists. Of course they're not going to be transgressive, heteronormativity-bashing destroyers of the status quo. The music is pretty secondary to the image, and the image is very much based on the Male Gaze. Hence, the no pants dig. Their raison d'etre is to look hot and show off their body, not to stand on stage in a baggy shirt and jeans and sing. I imagine that if your creative career was founded on a style of music and lyrics that wanted to subvert that ideal of "women in pop music", you would be a little befuddled at the supposed empowerment narrative that many people seem eager to create around Gaga, Kesha, Perry et al.; there's a reason that Beth Ditto, awesome as she is, is not, will not, and cannot be a mainstream artist to the levels of Kesha, even though she is (I would argue) exponentially more talented.

I'm actually quite befuddled that so many commenters are taking issue with Hanna's statement. You're still allowed to enjoy shitty mainstream pop music. Hell, I've got Teenage Dream and Party in the USA on pretty frequent rotation in my iPod... it's Pixi Stix for your ears, fun and peppy and totally devoid of substance. That doesn't mean that you can't criticize it as well for absorbing the dominant beauty aesthetic, or using lesbianism as fodder for straight men, or whatever. Jaysus, it's not that difficult of a concept to grasp; Hanna's opinion actually sounds like something a Jezebel editor would write back in the day.