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For Immediate Release
April 11, 2012

For more information, contact
Janet Roy
(585) 395-2267

A Feminist Look at Pop Music Stars Lady Gaga, Ke$ha, and Rihanna

Are women’s lives and freedoms advanced by popular media productions of female sexuality, or do these portrayals restrict women’s lives and freedoms by offering false pretenses of empowerment?

Brockport, NY- Jamie Glantz ’12 admits that she is and has always been a pop-music junkie.

“For me, it is an energetic English major’s dream come true. Popular music is poetry I can dance to. This is the understanding that initiated my interest in studying popular music academically. I wanted to know: How does popular-music, understood as a literary experience, affect the way we live in the world?,” says Jamie, an English major and Honors student.

Jamie quickly realized that, while this question was fascinating to her, equating music with literature was not always as inviting a thought to others. “It was also clear to me that popular music, seemingly everywhere in our day-to-day lives, does matter to others in an important way. I sought to find out how.”

Her interest in popular music media as a catalyst for the social construction of gender and sexuality developed during Jamie’s sophomore year of college, when she was asked to critique Lady GaGa’s 2008 hit “Love Game” for a class in literature analysis. In the song, Lady GaGa’s references to gender and sexuality are explicit. She sings about a woman who “want[s] to take a ride on your disco stick” and the “story of us,” which always begins “with a boy and a girl.” Using a feminist theoretical frame, she struggled to determine if Lady GaGa’s work endorsed traditional beliefs about human sexuality, or if, perhaps, it challenged them instead. She wondered how popular music, in general, could be read in this context. She questioned, whether popular music was a means to maintain the status quo, or was it space for political and social activism?

Jamie declared a minor in Women and Gender Studies in the spring of her sophomore year, reaffirming her interest in this subject and clarifying her objective. After studying numerous ways popular media speaks to, shapes, and reflects popular culture in contemporary society, she became convinced that popular music media played an important role in people’s lives. With the help of her advisor, Dr. Barbara LeSavoy, she was able to pull out of the popular media discourse the question she really wanted to know: How does popular music media’s portrayal of gender and sexuality impact the lives of contemporary women? This question became the foundation for Jamie’s research for the past two years.

“This project has taught me more than I expected. I have learned about feminist theory and about popular media, but I have also learned the value of feminism’s quest for understanding and respect for personal experience. My thinking has changed and progressed along with the thesis process. My research does not produce conclusive results, but I believe this finding in itself is significant,” says Jamie. “To me, the inconclusive results and the questions this research provokes reflects the complex intricacies that make up women’s worlds and women’s minds. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to have completed this project. Through it, I have had the chance to discover the unique, invaluable voices of 70 women, and, in many ways, find my own.”

The College at Brockport, State University of New York
350 New Campus Drive * Brockport, New York 14420-2931
(585) 395-2754 * FAX (585) 395-2723 *

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