Of all the criticisms to make of Lady Gaga, that she is making a patriarchal bargain is not a legitimate one. They seriously screencapped a frame from “Bad Romance” IN WHICH SHE IS PLAYING A SEX SLAVE, MERE MINUTES BEFORE SETTING A PATRIARCH ON FIRE, in order to argue that her relative lack of clothing (AGAIN: PLAYING A SEX SLAVE) means that she is submitting to the male gaze to get ahead. I mean, if nothing else, didn’t we well establish that she stopped submitting to the male gaze in order to get ahead in 2010?
Of course I agree that Gaga’s purported subversive markers just serve to mask that she’s “a skinny white woman gyrating in underwear,” but that does not a patriarchal bargain make. They’re trying to argue that Gaga submits to some sexist standards (according to them: having boobs) in order to slip some sort of radical message into the mainstream, but a) that’s not necessarily what the patriarchal bargain refers to and b) she isn’t doing any of those things c) you are rendering the concept of the gaze entirely useless when you reduce it to a synonym for “a woman who is naked.”
“Upholding [white] standards of beauty” is not the same thing as making a patriarchal bargain. Upholding white standards of beauty is a function of white supremacist capitalist patriarchal culture in which some people are given the opportunity to submit in certain ways and others aren’t. Lady Gaga did not choose to be a skinny white lady as a “bargain” with the Celebrity Powers That Be in exchange for a platform to spread her Magical Gay Rights Agenda across America. If that’s how you’re going to define the patriarchal bargain, then you should also specify that you don’t think black women or fat women can make the patriarchal bargain. I don’t think that’s what Kandiyoti argued.
This has been Stupid.