90s bisexuality! I wrote my undergraduate Women’s Studies thesis on it. And I actually think that sexual fluidity is a not-unimportant thing to bring up in this conversation.
But first: I was thinking about how Gaga/Beyonce is a feminist statement for 2009 (more than 1999 or 1969–though that’s when these conversations started) in part because technology has changed. One way for women to deal with a world of internet porn, HDTV, and video phones is to decide that instead of bitching about the male gaze (and I love bitching about the male gaze–Kathleen’s answer to it is a good one!) is to strategically use it (which I am into, too).
However: I’m not sure it’s just an ever increasingly visual mainstream culture that has made pop feminism embrace phallic symbols and bikinis that work like Medusa. I think it could also have to do with the emphasis on the visual aspect of identity and desire within queer culture, including trans culture.
Last year, when we spoke at the Women, Action, and Media conference, we had an audience full of feminist college students who were clearly butch, or clearly femme, or who weren’t clearly anything–for example, the girl in a mini skirt with a dark mustache. In other words, a big part of these queer identities has to do with wanting to look a way that is not necessarily in keeping with how you are supposed to look, given your gender and/or sexual preferences.
So what do you think? And did that sound a little academic? Because I totally like Gaga in red. And the white! I really like the white.–kara