Earlier this week, in what I can only hope was a throwaway comment, Lady Gaga gave some bad relationship advice.
Speaking about being submissive to her boyfriend, actor Taylor Kinney, Gaga told Sirius XM’s The Morning Mash Up that “he’s totally in charge.” “I mean, when I am home, I am like, shoes are off, I’m making him dinner,” she continued. “He has a job, too, and he is really busy!”
I hear that. In fact, I think most Type-A women with stressful jobs can understand how deciding, say, on which restaurant to go to is not something we necessarily care to do after a long day. After about the 50th decision in the span of a single day, getting someone else — someone you ostensibly love and trust, who knows your preferences — to make plans and mundane decisions is secretly a joy.
But then Gaga’s comments took a weird turn into preachy territory.
“I’m in charge all day long, the last thing I want to do is tell him what to do,” she said. “It’s not good for relationships to tell men what to do.”
As we’ve seen most recently with “Conscious Uncoupling,” it’s easy for the public to judge the relationship strategies of the world’s most famous. That is, when the stars offer up the details. Being in a celebrity couple is as about as complicated as Gaga’s feelings about big business. So the idea that she thinks she can speak about what women should and should not do in typical relationships is a bit absurd. Do what works for the relationship, but keep it to yourself.
I expect better from Lady Gaga, someone who, while certainly not as progressive in the feminist space as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie superfan Beyoncé, has given the impression through her music (if not her behavior) that she’s a feminist ally. But maybe I should stop reading into songs like “Do What U Want,” which, to me, reads as textbook sexual-revolution enlightenment: essentially, “Yes, I want sex as much as you do, so you can control me in the sheets, but you don’t have the power to influence my life.”
“I’m not a feminist,” Gaga is quoted as saying. “I hail men, I love men, I celebrate American male culture – beer, bars, and muscle cars.”
That’s a less progressive response than the weak side-steps made by Katy Perry and Taylor Swift.
As Perry phrased it, “I am not a feminist, but I do believe in the strength of women.” Swift was a bit more explanatory: “I don’t really think about things as guys versus girls. I never have. I was raised by parents who brought me up to think if you work as hard as guys, you can go far in life.”
Maybe we’ve been assuming that Lady Gaga’s break-all-the-rules attitude, New York City upbringing, and theater-nerd background means that she must be a feminist. Or maybe she got asked an invasive question about her personal life on a radio show, told some version of the truth, and mistakenly positioned her personal relationship strategy as an arbitrary rule of thumb for all women. It’s probably both, but either way: ladies, do what you want.