In Defense Of Gaga: Our Favorite "Slut"Courtney Batzofin

On Monday, Staten Island’s borough president James Molinaro made all the headlines he probably will this year by railing against Lady Gaga. I understand the need to “stop glorifying drug use in the media,” but let’s get things straight here: Molinaro called Gaga a slut for smoking what appeared to be a marijuana cigarette on stage in Amsterdam during her concert last week. Quoted in the Staten Island Advance, Molinaro said: “There’s Gaga. Here’s this … this … I would call her a slut. This slut is influencing many, many children.”

In my actual experience with the word, slut is used to define many things, from the way a girl dresses and the makeup she wears to whether or not she flirts with boys. All these are typically the basis of being called a slut – though let’s be clear, there are no actual grounds for describing any woman this way, regardless of her appearance, sexual practices or anything else. I’d love to get into the fact that men are never called sluts, but that’s a whole other argument.

Let’s take a minute to look back at the history of the word. Slut first appeared in the written language in 1402; however, etymologists believe its verbal usage dates back to the 1300s. In its first iteration, it roughly meant what the word “slattern” means today: an untidy, slovenly woman or girl. HOWEVER, for the past 500 years or more, it has been meant to connote a woman of loose sexual morals. As far as my research has taken me, this is the ONLY usage of the word in existence today. At best, Molinaro is using words 500 years out of date. Way to stay in touch. At worst, he’s slut-shaming an artist who of late has created a social network to encourage people to be more free and comfortable with who they are and love themselves for their unique and individual qualities. And an artist who came out recently acknowledging both her weight gain AND her 15 year struggle with bulimia and anorexia in the wake of being called fat (read: slovenly) across countless press outlets.

I stand with Gaga. As does Manhattan borough president (and likely mayoral candidate) Scott Stringer. Stringer responded to Molinaro’s remarks, and went on the record as saying: “Lady Gaga’s work is a symbol of individuality and artistic expression. In addition to her artistic pursuits, she is a social justice activist and a real leader for marriage equality in this country. And no matter which continent Gaga happens to be in today, she remains an Upper West Sider at heart.” Scott Stringer gets it.

The use of the word “slut,” especially when grossly taken out of context as Molinaro has done, continues to propagate the belief that degrading women for their choices – sexual or otherwise – can be used to change behaviors. If I take a flier here and go with the classical (500 years out of date) usage, is Gaga a slut? I suppose someone who wears a meat-dress can be considered untidy and slovenly. So, she’s a slut. Way to go, Molinaro, you did it. Someone who expresses their worldview so purely and blazes trails… sign me up, please.

Gaga, you look amazing and you’re an icon, girl. Keep doing you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=621365346 Silvae Sánchez Presa

    I don’t like her music, I don’t like how she dresses… I think Freddie Mercury is crying in his grave because of her name (Lady Gaga-Radio Gaga) but I do believe nobody deserves to be slut shammed….

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000012210609 Anthony Ashcraft

      Brian May of Queen and close friend of Freddie said himself that he would have loved Gaga, so stop.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=796774143 Sarah Williams

    I do like it when Dorothy or Ma calls Blanche a slut. heh, Golden Girls <3

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1251933113 Chris Martinez

    I didn’t like her initially only because at first glance and listen I thought she was just another in a sea of forgettable pop music and that annoys me in men and women alike. She grew on me fast though because of how fiercely she took control of her own image and created everything she wanted to express about herself without having to answer to anyone but herself…. She looks great both skinny and curvy, and her bravery in standing up for the voiceless and bullied is an inspiration. Yes she does promote questionable life choices at time and I really wouldn’t want my wee cousins walking about in Gaga outfits at their ages, BUT that’s the part where good parenting comes into play! Gaga is a great inspiration but the parent is the role model, and a child who respects their parent’s values will often do their best to live up to that ideal, whether or not they like Gaga or death metal or gangsta rap or any other type of music. Slut-shaming Gaga is lazy on behalf of the role model who feels to meek and weak to actually stand up and be an inspiration to their child rather than a jail keeper.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1380021309 Christina Martinez

    I agree. There shouldn’t be any slut shaming. I doubt Molinaro, as you suggested was using the word “slut” from the Ye Olde English dictionary. I hate that society cares so much about celebrities and their looks and weight loss/gain. I can care less about who has cellulite, what they look like without make up or if they do or do not have a “baby pouch.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1334850102 Erica Bauwens

    I’m really not a fan of Lady Gaga’s music or fashion sense, but I respect the crap her. She gave a voice to millions of self-conscious kids out there who were scared to express their own unique personalities when she dressed and behaved how she wanted and made it look good. Like I said, it’s not my style, but so many people used her influence as a means to express themselves, in a way I’ve never seen before. And it’s really an amazing thing. So if she’s a slut, I hope I’m a slut too. Because it looks like being a slut is pretty awesome!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=722623694 Sasha Francis

    While I agree completely that slut-shaming is wrong no matter who it’s against, I wouldn’t stand with Lady Gaga. From her cultural appropriation of Islamic clothing to her iffy statements about LGBT+ people that make me question whether she should really be called an ally, she has far too many problematic views and past actions to be called a “social justice activist” in my opinion.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000012210609 Anthony Ashcraft

      “iffy statements about LGBT+ people”

      No, she has never made any “iffy statements” about LGBT people. She, from the beginning of her career when no one knew who she was, has been fiercely loyal and supportive of the gay community.

      She also has never claimed to be a “social justice activist”, she’s simply doing what she can.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1030278029 Lisa Kraft

    we need to reclaim the word slut, just like we have reclaimed the word dyke and the “n” word in some situations….

    slut need not be a bad word or a disparaging name. sluts be proud, not shamed. things need to change.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=572188518 Stacey Rate

    I agree with this whole post. Especially the part when you said men aren’t called sluts for sleeping with too many women…then they get called pimps and that’s somehow positive? I like to think of them as man-whores myself. Go Gaga! I love her :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=12801539 Melissa Dunnahoo

    Why is there a picture of someone’s mostly naked butt up top? I thought there were some pretty young readers here, seems like a little much for the cute girly reputation of this website…

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1008753657 Anastasia Alaniz

      While some may disagree with what I’m about to say, I’d just like to point out that as she’s not in any sexually provocative form, there really should be nothing wrong with the exposed skin she’s showing. Why does society scandalize nudity so bad? It’s a natural, beautiful thing and while I’m not saying let kids stare at naked bodies, most people on here are at least thirteen and thus old enough to handle something like this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=675277572 Christine Xu

    So what if she were a slut, and what if she were a self-proclaimed one? We’re attaching value judgments to a woman’s independent decisions. The Coquette (http://dearcoquette.com/post/12255171607/on-fun-sized-advice) knows what you’re really trying to say about Gaga, anyway:

    Where does one draw the line between a slutty chick and one who lacks sexual morals/standards?
    There is no line to draw, because those two things do not fall on the same spectrum. A woman who openly enjoys sex is not a variation of a woman who is sexually unprincipled.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1218954309 Jesyka Bartlett

    I love this a lot and I love Gaga a lot. Thank you for writing this. <3

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000794745929 Janine Kay Baughman

    Just look at her pictures and videos; she is potraying herself as a slut. Let the shoe fit!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1008753657 Anastasia Alaniz

      I fail to see how she’s a slut. She shows skin, yes, but there is no shame in the human body. Accepting one’s sexuality is nothing to be shameful about, and by tagging her a slut you make it seem as though she does have something to be ashamed about. As far as I know, she hasn’t been in countless orgies and doesn’t go around propositioning people for sex. Even if she did – while I don’t personally agree with it – it would be her prerogative and being free with one’s love like that shouldn’t be considered slutty for any gender. Everyone is different and there is nothing shameful about sex or nudity.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000012210609 Anthony Ashcraft

      You do know what a slut is, right? She’s not having sex in her videos or in pictures. Being naked =/= slut. It’s time to stop making sex such a taboo topic. If a woman wants to express herself in a certain way, she should be allowed to. Stop giving into the male-dominated culture that says women can’t run around however they choose.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=501895361 Lauren Scharf

    I’ve gotten into the habit of calling guys “Sluts” when they cat-call at me on the street. Doesn’t quite even things out, but I feel it’s a better use for the word.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1008753657 Anastasia Alaniz

    I would just like to point out that the notion of her gaining weight just doesn’t seem to matter. She is NOT what could be considered curvy, even with the weight gain so I honestly don’t see where people are getting that she’s fat. If that’s considered curvy, then I must be a freaking cow. But at any rate, that man’s statements were completely idiotic. He’s talking about her influencing children when – in all honesty – the only crime she’s committed is performing her art. At some point, parent’s need to take responsibility for the media their children see. Lady Gaga is not for kids, and it is parents jobs to shield them from that until they’re of age. My mom managed when I was young, so it shouldn’t be that hard.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=743217747 Keely Craig

    I think that a huge part of this “slut shamming” lies in the fact that Gaga is legitimately part of the “slut” crowd. I personally wouldn’t say that she holds the highest morals, nor does she uphold a “non-slutty” lifestyle. However, that is entirely aside from the fact that most major, ground-breaking artists are also a part of that “slutty” lifestyle. For Molinaro to blatantly come out with that remark, he disregards the fact that many other “role model” figures are just like Gaga, in that respect. It seems to me, like he sheepishly made that comment to show his utter bias towards her. Also, a sidenote on the fact that guys aren’t often called sluts. I will call man-sluts what they are openly are: a slut…

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1008753657 Anastasia Alaniz

      But that’s the problem in the first place. Who are we to call her a slut? There is no shame in sex or nudity. Everyone has different standards, and just because hers aren’t considered “normal” does that make her a slut? No. In my experience, most people are more lax about sex these days. I find that my rigidity about sex is abnormal. I don’t fault those who do actively have sex often, though. Because it works for them. They can feel comfortable doing that? Great. I wish I could have that amount of comfort with my body and sharing it. Because the art of being with another person can be a beautiful thing. It shouldn’t be considered scandalous like it is.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004246564102 Domenok Wasem

    Connect with Facebook to post a comment

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=564946736 Kayla Harmon

    The photos above are from her recent project A Body Revolution, which isn’t at all about being “a slut” she took those photos to show that she isn’t perfect and she doesn’t have to be.

    http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1694397/lady-gaga-body-revolution-2013.jhtml

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1125572138 Hannah Mae Schaeffer

    i think everyone here has forgotten the fact that she indecently exposed herself in the telephone music video with beyonce. that seems like a very positive role model for people becoming of age and struggling with their identity. when in doubt flash your cooch. i dont have any beef with gaga, in fact i dont think very much of her at all. she’s and extremist, which goes a long way in the media and society, and being that way i only hope that she can take into consideration her image and actions and how she will be portrayed when influencing so many young sponges out there.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=10200927 Patricia McGuire

      Is a positive role model simply one that keeps things G rated? I think there is much more adult content in that video besides indecent exposure, though violence somehow seems to be much more acceptable in our society than sexuality, which makes no sense to me. When I saw it I considered it an homage to Quentin Tarantino, I thought it was pretty clever and artistic actually. Adult themes aren’t something to be ashamed of or repressed. Sexuality, nuditiy, these can be beautiful things. I think parents should keep a close eye on their children to make sure that they expose their child to what they feel is appropriate at the appropriate time. I think there should be a constant, open environment for children to explore curiosities about these topics with their parents. Gaga, I love her. She may be a sensationalist at times, but that’s how I noticed her in the first place before I saw what she stood for. She is a quirky and uninhibited artist. I celebrate it.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1008753657 Anastasia Alaniz

      I think you’re also forgetting that Lady Gaga isn’t meant to be a role model for young children. And just because she does one thing that is deemed inappropriate doesn’t mean she doesn’t have other qualities to admire and aspire to.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002479813114 Rachel Gosselin

        Who do you think the radio and popular media are marketed towards? Children. Of course that doesn’t mean that other people don’t/can’t support Gaga, particularly those of more mature ages, but again the target here is the younger members of society (keyword “LITTLE” Monsters).

        Just because Gaga is in the public eye does not mean she should be a role model for anyone. Like you said, her message isn’t always child-friendly; nor does it have to be. That being said, however, people, and Gaga herself, should recognize that she will reach and influence children, whether intentionally or not.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1008753657 Anastasia Alaniz

          So you’re basically saying it’s Gaga’s responsibility to sensor her art because parent’s tend to be irresponsible? Great. And no, media is not just geared towards children. There is adult media and child media, Gaga does not fall into the latter. She should have the right to express herself completely without having to watch out because parents can’t properly take care of their children.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002479813114 Rachel Gosselin

            I do not believe that Gaga should sensor her art. She should, and probably does, recognize that her actions will reach younger audiences, but, again, that does not mean that she needs to or will change her message, philosophy, personal expression, etc. Gaga, however, is often lumped into the group of mass radio and music media that tends to be geared toward the teen and preteen population. Hence, her content will reach younger audiences whether she wants it to or not. Is it a bad thing that this will happen? You argue that parents should filter this content away from their children’s eyes, but also say that it is a bad thing for people not show off their body. If the content is filtered from children, will it lead them to believe Gaga’s message is inappropriate for society? If the main goal of this is to show society that the body is not a thing to be sexualized and shamed, perhaps children should have ready access to such content. Furthermore, by lumping Gaga in with so-called “adult media” (another form of adult media is porn) this also further sexualizes the situation.

            These are all things to think about, especially if you are someone who truly believes in the “liberation” of the female body from a vastly male-dominated society.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003293784494 Christopher William Riordan

    Sure, the mayor is a dick for calling her a slut. And “I ‘d love to get into the fact women are never called dicks, but that’s another argument.” However, Lady GaGa shouldn’t be celebrated for what she is doing right now. She has a bunch of impressionable children taking embarrassing photos of the,selves and posting them publicly on the Internet. These photos will haunt them for life, long after they grow out of their “Lil Monsters” phase and get jobs and husbands and kids and groceries.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1008753657 Anastasia Alaniz

      So it’s embarrassing to show off one’s body and be proud of it? To tell the world that you love your body and aren’t ashamed with it? It is society’s fault, not the individuals, if that should effect them later on.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003293784494 Christopher William Riordan

    lady gaga might be going throu a “fat” phase now, but she defi Isley went through a “woman of loose moral fiber” phase too.

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