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 At best, Molinaro is using words 500 years out of date.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.

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  1. Why is it when it comes to Lady Gaga, even the nicest of sites turn into a breeding ground for hate or some subject of hate. Guys I know some of you don’t like her music or you don’t fully understand or care for her message, but in all fairness, what has she done so wrong to deserve to be called a ‘slut’ or ‘fat’. In fact, why would any girl OR boy be told such vulgar things? Can we just focus on the fact that Gaga really does do so much for her fans, especially when you’re a part of her fan base, you see it from a clearer perspective, however biased that may sound. Rock on girl, you look flawless! :)

  2. I’m not really a fan of her music either, in fact I think its rather annoying in some instances, but I love her for all the work that she has done in order to further the cause of equality and providing a voice for the voiceless. I don’t think this one instance of a public official, or whomever he is, calling her a “slut” will even phase her since she seems pretty used to being different than other people and celebrating what is different and beautiful about everyone. More power to her!

  3. Umm. Slut is a compliment. Lady Gaga is freaking amazing. She’s not even fat. Anyone who thinks that those pictures above are of a fat person needs some help fo real. And if she was, who the f*ck cares? And actually, speaking personally, Gaga is an amazing LGBTQIQA rights icon, role model, and proponent and to say otherwise is really insulting to the millions of youth who mark her as one of their sources of finding self-acceptance (myself among them). Stop hating. It makes you look tacky.

  4. First of all Lady Gaga’s music is not “art” and to claim it is does a vast disservice to music that truly is art. Her music is at best catchy disposable pop.

    Secondly, her claim to being a feminist icon is also incredibly flawed. Although I hate the word “slut” I don’t think that her dressing provocatively is a sign of feminist strength, if anything it is the opposite. I have no problem with how she dresses but let’s not kid ourselves; she does so to shock and to sell records. Nothing more and certainly at no great addition to feminism or the fight for gender equality.

    Finally, her LGBT campaigning work has been massively overrated. If in doubt look towards her banal and frankly offensive lyrics to Born This Way, the most condescending “LGBT anthem” ever written and no doubt a step back for LGBT equality. Hopefully she is one cultural “icon” whose influence will soon dye away (I’m hopeful given her latest album sales)

    • Acoustics don’t mark artful music. Something can be synthed-to-death and still contain a contain a beautiful artistic intent. Next.

  5. First of all, she was not doing anything illegal when she smoked that marijuana cos apparently it IS legal in Amsterdam.. And second of all..just because she doesn’t look like what she looked like before, that does not give us a reason to judge her or anyone.. We just have to accept the fact that people may change (i.e physically) based on whatever reason they may have. It may be a shock at first but we’ll get used to it eventually:)

  6. I can’t believe this article, I agree that Slut is a dirty and offensive word. But seriously people. It is just handing it to men when you wear something that just covers your bum and claim to be a feminist saying “I will wear what a want”. If you want to show off your body, wear an elegant tight fitted dress that goes to/ just above the knee. WHY wear a dress that just covers your bum until you bend over. Gaga looks terrible here, how can you say that is not provocative?? I hate when girls say I am wearing this short as skirt because I can wear WHATEVER I want… yes you can.. true, but are you sure that you are not wearing it to attract men? Thus defeating the purpose of feminism. Lady gaga is basically just saying “come f*** me”. What happened to elegantly showing off your your body, and flirting all night, now it’s just wear a mini skirt that you actually can not bend over in and sending out the message “No need to charm me, just go for gold”

    • You need to go somewhere. Most blatant misunderstanding of feminism I have ever heard.. and you even threw in an argument of “she was asking for it with the way she was dressed.” I truly think you suck

  7. Lets keep intellectual using lady gaga – who do you think she is voting for and why?

  8. I’m not going to comment on whether or not Lady Gaga’s appearance warrants her the title of “slut”.
    However, I would like to point out to Molinaro that there is no direct correlation between smoking marijuana and being slovenly. There are people from every background who participate in those sorts of activities. If a man smokes weed is he also a slut? His argument may have been a reasonable one, but his evidence and support was truly idiotic.

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

  10. 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.

    • 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.

  11. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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.

          • 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.

    • 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.

  12. 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

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  14. 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…

    • 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

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

    • 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.

    • 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.

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

  19. 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.

  20. 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…

    • 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.