I am almost terminally unhip when it comes to popular music. It's not that I have snobbish pretensions, or at least I try not to--I'm a firm believer in Duke Ellington's maxim, "if it sounds good, it is good," and there's room for both Mozart and Garbage on my iPod, Radiohead and John Coltrane, Bjork and Kanye "I'm going to interrupt this playlist" West. But the fact is, I don't watch MTV--not that they have much to do with music nowadays, but I'm dinosaur enough to remember when they did--or listen to much top 40 radio, so I almost never have any idea of what those kids, thesadays, are listening to. (And they need to get off my lawn, too.)

It's so bad that about the only way I hear popular songs is when they're background music for a TV show. (When my ex made me watch "Smallville" or "The O.C." with her, I used to parody the way that they would have a constant churn of hot bands: "Hey, I hear {BAND_OF_THE_WEEK} is playing at the club tonight! I love {BAND_OF_THE_WEEK}." Of course, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is immune from my scorn, since a) it's awesome and b) all of those bands are safely a decade behind us.)

But even a pathetic stick in the mud like transfeminist has heard of every queer's new best friend, The Lady Gaga. Bursting on the scene with the ubiquity and, dare I say, calculation of the early Madonna--I submit to you, the last woman to burst on the music scene with such self-assuredness, popularity, and raised middle finger to society--she's still carved out a space that preserves her conceptual artist bona fides while serving up some of the tastiest dance tracks since the Voguing early nineties. And even more so than Madonna (who always seemed to pull back just a little from doing the full Midler in her acceptance of her enormous gay fanbase) she's been queer friendly to the extreme, embracing her roots from the burlesque, performance art, and drag scene in New York, talking about her own bisexuality. She's hot, popular, and a social phenomenon.

Anybody with a passing acquaintance with feminism or queer theory could see the backlash about that coming since, oh, late 2007.

Now, those who've been more than half-awake while passing time in this Best of All Possible Patriarchies are used to the takedowns successful women always have directed at them--can't be more popular than the boys! It almost never takes long for such women to be maligned, usually sexually, and usually as being "sluts." AndIwon'tdragyouthroughanotherdouble-standardspeech. Sometimes, however, you have artists that are even more threatening: they write music that makes people--even straight men--want to dance! That women seem to really enjoy! And gay guys too! Which might make you--if you are, say, a straight dude of the usual insecurities--gay! Such women have their sexuality attacked in another way, especially if they've given any sign of being anything other than strictly heterosexually monogamous: they're called lesbians, as Madonna and Whitney Houston both have been.

But Lady GaGa--ah, Ms. G! She's already admitted to being queer! She clearly doesn't give a flying cat about what people think of her sexuality, which in her shows is a malleable tool deployed to make just about any point she wants to make! There must be something worse than gay we can call her! I've got it! We'll call her...

...a man.

Well, no. That might be odd enough, but we need something really "freaky." Howabout an intersexed person? Or a transsexual! It's sort of the ultimate in "this music will make you gay"--by making Lady GaGa "male" (I know, I know, bear with me, I'm following the "logic"), ergo, if you are a guy who likes her music and finds her attractive, then--wait for it--you are gay!

Now, as a trans person I am obviously thrilled about this--the return of the "trans is the freakiest thing you can be" meme, which had quieted down a bit of late. Not to mention that once again it's a way of using trans folk, and specifically trans women, as synonymous with male, unattractive, sexually undesirable. (See, for example, this lovely "joke" by David Letterman.) A-and it's a quite subtle bit of backlashery (she's successful! and popular! therefore she couldn't possibly be a girl!) All in all, well played, Patriarchy, well played. You've managed to combine homophobia, misogyny, transphobia, and, oh, dislike of dance grooves (historically carrying a big racial burden) all in one nice neat package. I'd take my hat off to you, had you not planted your foot so firmly on my throat.

Fortunately, the solution presents itself quite obviously: just listen to her music. A couple of rounds of "Bad Romance" and you'll wonder why the heck anyone cares about this shite to begin with. You'll be happy, they'll still be miserable, and as paltry a victory as that might be, staying happy and whole when the powerful want you to be miserable and torn is itself an act of resistance.

And if that fails, you can always do as The Lady does:


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