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Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender, and the End of Normal (Queer Ideas/Queer Action) Hardcover – September 18, 2012

17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Jack Halberstam—the king of feminism—has managed to make sense of pregnant men, Lady Gaga, gay marriage, and the advent of the bromance in this provocative and pleasurable romp through contemporary gender politics. Gaga Feminism is as fun as it is illuminating.”Ariel Levy, author of Female Chauvinist Pigs and staff writer at the New Yorker

“Like the remixed and mashed cultures that produced her, Lady Gaga defies simple logics and explanations. Perhaps no scholar is better equipped to go there with Gaga than J. Jack Halberstam, whose work, like Gaga, resists categorization. If Gaga Feminism is a politics of free form and improvisation, Halberstam bravely lets loose the reins.”—Mark Anthony Neal, co-editor That’s the Joint: The Hip-Hop Studies Reader
  
 “In this important and spirited manifesto, Jack Halberstam’s signature wit, depth, and wide-ranging cultural appetites are on full display. Amid Halberstam’s stories about the many-gendered world we live in, this book gives us hope that we might move toward ever more liberated modes of living.”—Sara Marcus, author of Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution

“Jack Halberstam’s wild, playful intelligence wreaks dazzling havoc on pop culture and feminism and gender—from butch fish to deadbeat dudes, marriage, hetero(in)flexibilty, rom-coms, global capitalism, and, of course, Lady Gaga. Halberstam is the crier for and contributor to a gleeful anarchism that begins in the streets or the universities or maybe the television, and comes raging into our most intimate spheres.”—Michelle Tea, author of Valencia 

About the Author

J. Jack Halberstam is the author of four books, including Female Masculinity and The Queer Art of Failure. Currently a professor of American studies and of ethnicity and gender studies at the University of Southern California, Halberstam regularly speaks and writes on queer culture and gender issues and blogs at BullyBloggers.
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Product Details

  • Series: Queer Ideas/Queer Action (Book 7)
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press (September 18, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807010987
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807010983
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #165,634 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

J. Jack Halberstam is the author of "Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender, and the End of Normal" (Beacon Press, 2012), along with four other books, including "Female Masculinity" and "In a Queer Time and Place." Currently a professor of English and gender studies and director of the Center for Feminist Research at the University of Southern California, Halberstam regularly speaks on queer culture, gender studies, and popular culture, and blogs at The Bully Bloggers.

Photo Credit: Assaf Evron, 2012.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Chris Stoner on June 25, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Although I don't find it to have the same depth and fire as Halberstam's earlier volume, Female Masculinity, this is a fun and thoughtful look at how Lady Gaga's persona has impacted popular culture and what that means for people who want to expand the meaning of gender in our current cultural moment. The book is pretty firmly rooted in Halberstam's personal gender journey, which certainly affects how the theory progresses, but there is plenty of subversive potential in this text for people all over the spectrum of gender presentations.

If you are looking for more emphasis on queerness, I would recommend Halberstam's other book, In A Queer Time And Place, over this one, but for pop culture commentators and Gaga's "Little Monsters," this is a great look at the emerging icon and how her public self can help us rethink gender and the boundaries that surround it. Definitely worth a read.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful By S B on January 13, 2015
Format: Paperback
This book is pedophilic apologism.

Key parts of the quoted material:

"Why presume that all sexual conduct between adults and children is unwanted by the child"

and

"[Levine] has pushed forward with another [version of feminism] that understands children as sexual, parents as erotic figures, and sexuality itself as the pursuit of pleasure"

and

"when we really don't know or understand what children want or how they may feel about something, we could always do something wacky and crazy ... like asking them to let us know what feels good and what feels intrusive or wrong." (all from page 15)

Additionally, tbe book has no concept of power relations or how to use feminist analysis in confronting systems of power. As the author says, "A gaga feminism does not need to know and name the political outcome of its efforts. More important is to identify the form that transformative struggle should take." (p 134) In this false feminist vision, listening to pop music and you-be-you outfits are more important than having a plan to confront power and seeing it through to the end.

Please don't waste your time with this book. It's a dangerous and anti-feminist work.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lisa Wiebesiek on October 18, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is an interesting read. I really enjoyed it until almost half-way through and felt that it went a bit gaga in a bad way in that I felt like it lost the plot a bit. Despite the conscious attempt to make the text accessible, which I appreciate, I would have liked a more polished argument. I'm also not sure that some of the ideas discussed are as revolutionary as they seem.

Then again, I might just be a bit gaga-in-a-bad-way myself.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jman on April 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I only bought this book for a class, I would never have read it other wise. The book certainly needs more editing as it is hard to tell where other people's thoughts end and Halberstam's begin. While Halberstam brings up some good points of gender in our culture, one should look elsewhere to learn about Feminism and Gender Norms.
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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful By hardboiledbabe on December 14, 2014
Format: Paperback
I work in a bookstore and the ridiculousness of the title grabbed my attention so I read the thing over the span of a few lunch breaks. My response to consuming the work, other than being blown away by how petulantly unfocused Halverstam is, was pretty much just an internal repetition of "stop." Stop looking for beacons of feminism among a lineup of pop stars. Stop reaching to make a straight woman's unconventional fashion expression somehow a representative of "queer culture." Stop equating the existence of a female in public consciousness as an inherently feminist act. Stop letting men posture themselves as authorities on "pop feminism" to write such vapid, hollowly post modern, drivel.

It's obvious the author projects the feminist "queer" icon they wish Gaga actually was onto her persona with little to nothing to back it up. "The American public's attitudes towards gender presentation and acceptance of the LGBT community are changing and Lady Gaga is popular- so obviously the two are connected! Have you even heard 'Born this Way'?" And that's understandable in some respects, they obviously have stakes invested, but none the less pathetic. This woman is not the nucleus of the intersection between feminism and queer politics in the mainstream, she's barely a blip on the radar. Lady Gaga postured as a feminist icon annoys me even as an idea detached from her personal politics (which are nonexistent what a shock), looking to pop stars as beacons of feminism not only depoliticizes the meaning of the word but you cannot be a capitalist feminist. These ideas are not congruent, not empowered. What a waste of a read and opportunity for introspection.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kaitlyn Morar on May 11, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A quick read, and a fresh take on gender studies. I am not sure that everything Halberstam proposes is correct, but this work creates a lot of interesting discussion points, and in my opinion, that always makes for a great book.
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11 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Mike Ryder on September 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Jack Halberstam at his best so far! I have always enjoyed Halberstam's work, given that he is so much more accessible than gender theorists such as Judith Butler (the person who edits the latter's book should be shot - or perhaps when you are that famous, you don't allow people to edit your work?). In any event, I love Halberstam's deft interpretation of our endlessly changing contemporary culture. Naming this book after Lady Gaga was brilliant! I highly recommend this book. One thing I disagree with - I do not think that the changes in our society are completely unreflected by contemporary media. On the contrary, there are aspects of contemporary culture that seem to me to be ahead of the curve. I think here specifically of the fabulous phenomenon of the new female action hero, who has become so prominent in film and television. There is a fascinating discussion of this in Goodwill's The New Female Action Hero: An Analysis of Female Masculinity in the New Female Action Hero in Recent Films and Television Shows. What is particularly interesting to me is this contradiction: in The New Female Action Hero, Goodwill explicitly draws on the work of Halberstam, and is vociferous in his admiration of Halberstam's work. Indeed, I think at one point he claims that Halberstam inspired him to write the book. Given that, it is somewhat surprising that they diverge so completely on the issue of contemporary culture. While I admire Halberstam immensely, on this issue I have to go with Goodwill - the media in some respects has shown changes that are even more surprising than the changes Halberstam catalogues in this book.
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