“And baby, when it’s love, if it’s not rough it isn’t fun.” Immortal words of Lady Gaga in her hit “Poker Face”. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but chains and whips excite me,” deadpans Rihanna in her 2011 hit “S&M”; nonetheless she didn’t like it when boyfriend Chris Brown performed S &M on her face, viciously biting her nose and lips. Does she even get the irony of her choice of subject matter? Especially as she released this song praising abuse months after she was attacked by her boyfriend. Getting on the victim bandwagon, Katy Perry croons this year in another smash hit “ET”: “Wanna be your victim… Infect me with you love/ and fill me with you poison.” In the rap soundtrack by Kayne West that is often added to the song, it only gets worse as he sings of doing whatever he commands her to do and her total submission. Wow. With boyfriends like these, girls don’t need enemies, and with role models like Lady Gaga, Rihanna, and Katie, girls already have a recipe for failure.
Yet each one of these very young women would adamantly insist that they’re feminists, that they’re “strong” liberated women who know their rights and don’t let anyone boss them around. If that’s true, why are they glamourizing twisted submission for other young women? Glamourizing either rough sex or S &M, in which women always are physically injured –sometimes seriously--and always humiliated, is not the path to female liberation. No matter how popular inflicting pain may be becoming in the US—whether during sex or in daily life--- the mental health profession still lists sadism and masochism as neuroses in their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, or DSM. Pain is simply not the path to anyone’s liberation, because humiliating someone else for fun, especially in the act of sex, is savage, puerile, and unacceptable--whether you’re humiliating a man or woman. And for someone to enjoy being humiliated means that person has already been damaged and needs help.
This glorification of victimhood in pop culture is just the tip of the looming iceberg, proving that there is still an ever growing backlash against women’s rights and their very humanity—as renowned feminist Susan Faludi, author of “Backlash”, noted years ago. Sadly, now the backlash is being perpetrated by as many women as by men. If we , as women, can’t count on each other, who can we count on? Now even very little girls have sexual perversion and stereotyping to fight, even coming from their parents, thanks to the popularity of hooker costumes and pancake make-up in toddler beauty pageants. Gaga, Perry, Rihanna, and other female celebrities may be self-deluded into thinking that they are liberated, but they are only just victims of Stockholm Syndrome—having been brainwashed by male dominance to believe sexual submission and masochistic perversion are signs of freedom and liberation. But in fact they’re only signs of degradation and emotional , even physical captivity. And if celebrities don’t truly subscribe to these abuses, it is an even greater crime for them to so callously sell them to us, infecting us with their poison, as Perry so eloquently puts it.