Sorry, Camille – you can’t expect the likes of Katy Perry and Lady Gaga to fight this feminist battle

Female pop stars keep shirking the feminist label and Camille Paglia, for one, has had enough - so why is she looking for role models in all the wrong places?

Share

To the list of things we know about Katy Perry – she kissed a girl and she liked it; she was, briefly, married to Russell Brand – we can add another.

She is not a feminist. We know this because, collecting Billboard’s Woman of the Year award, the pop star who shoots whipped cream out of her bra declared, “I am not a feminist but I do believe in the strength of women.”

Like those X Factor song stylists who can never quite decide which note they want to land on, female pop stars like to flirt outrageously with the F-label before cruelly shunning it. Perry is not the first. Other stridently “empowered” figures such as Lady Gaga (“I’m not a feminist. I love men.”) and Beyoncé (“I need to find a catchy new word for feminism, right? Like ‘Bootylicious’.”) have decried it, too.

Now Camille Paglia has had enough. The dissident feminist takes Perry and pals to task in an essay for The Hollywood Reporter in which she blames “insipid, bleached-out” stars for forcing women back to the “demure, girly-girly days of the white-bread 1950s”. Perry is no more than a “manic cyborg cheerleader”; Taylor Swift is shot down for her “cultivated blandness” and “mannequin posturing”.

While Paglia demolishing Swift’s feminist credentials brings to mind images of sledgehammers and nuts, it’s hard to argue with her. It’s when she goes on to praise “the elemental erotic intensity” of others like Rihanna and Beyoncé that her argument starts to look shaky.

Of course, young girls deserve better role models than simpering, peppy poppets, but pop music is probably not the place to look for them.

The worlds of politics, business, the media and literature are far safer bets. For how empowered can you really be when your function is simply to entertain others? Girl Power is great as far as it goes but it's still pop music, not fourth-wave radical feminist theory.

Naturally, in an ideal world, all female popstars would accept the feminist label and wear it with pride. But in an even more ideal world, they wouldn't even have to be asked about it.

When was the last time a male musician was quizzed about his gender politics, or felt the need to pronounce publicly on fatherhood or equality? Exactly. There's a long way to go.

Forget the red carpet, the dresses and the gushing acceptance speeches, the real interest of awards season is the parade of gracious loser faces. You know, the bit when the cameras hone in the nervous nominees to capture their reaction, hoping for a strained smile or an angry swear word when they don't win.

I felt for Olivia Colman at the British Comedy Awards, though.

Nominated against herself in the Best Comedy Actress category for brilliant turns in Rev and Twenty Twelve, she appeared twice on Nom-Cam, filmed from two different angles as she awaited the announcement of the winner.

When she eventually lost out to The Thick of It's Rebecca Front, her gracious loser face had to look convincing from all sides.

Fortunately, wonderful actress that she is, she pulled it off with aplomb.

* Poor Pippa Middleton. Stick with me! The Royal sibling wrote a Diary for The Spectator this week, in which she said she had been "much teased" for her book, Celebrate. Not least, she wrote, by a fake Twitter account @pippatips which spoofs her anodyne advice with zingers like "It's time to open day 9 on your advent calendar to see what's behind the flap. Just look for an upside down no.6 and open that".

Sales for Middleton's party-planning guide have been catastrophically lower than expected, with just 2,000 sold in the first week of its release.

The result is that retailers, including Amazon and WHSmith, are now selling the £25 Bible of the Bleedin' Obvious for as little as £6.25.

Which – Bonus Pippa Tip! – if you add on a couple of pounds for post and packing, makes it the perfect £10 Secret Santa gift for that person at work you've never liked very much.

You're welcome.

Twitter: @alicevjo

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Administrator - Graduate

£18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

Project Officer (HMP Brixton Mentoring Project)

£24,000 per annum pro rata (21 hours per week): Belong: Work as part of a cutt...

Looking for work in Secondary Schools?

£85 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Are you looking for work in Ed...

Year 5 Teacher

£3000 - £30000 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to wor...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The colours of autumn leaves are among the many pleasures of the coming season  

In Sickness and in Health: As autumn arrives, more of us should wear high-vis clothes

Rebecca Armstrong
 

Daily catch-up: Scottish polls, canvass returns and arguments. And Top 10 Tweets

John Rentoul
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week