On Ke$ha's 'Feminist' Memoir
by Courtney Zehnder
The Atlantic recently published an article entitled 'Why Ke$ha's New Memoir Is 2012's Answer To The Feminine Mystique.' This obviously caught my attention. It's not like I think Betty Friedan is the most amazing feminist thinker of all time, but I was pretty certain whatever Ke$ha was able to produce on paper could never match the quality of a thinker and writer like Friedan. I called Barnes and Noble and sheepishly requested that they put the book on hold for me; the guy who answered the phone and I had some good laughs at my expense. Upon reading Ke$ha's book (I call it a 'book' merely because it is shaped like one) I'm baffled by the claims made in The Atlantic's article. If this 'memoir' is 2012's answer to The Feminine Mystique we better hope time travel becomes a serious reality because I would like to live in any year but this one.
Here's my breakdown of why Ke$ha's My Crazy Beautiful Life is in no way 2012's answer to The Feminine Mystique:
1. First of all, I read this 'book' in 20 minutes. Literally. Like I've taken showers that took longer than it did to finish this book. It might have more pages without words than with words. It's horribly written and comes off sounding almost entirely vapid and egotistical. Ke$ha, like the author of the article, seems to have a grandiose sense of what she is contributing to the world. I don't mean to be hard on Ke$ha, here. Based on her intro, she was clearly just writing something for fun for her fans, like a scrapbook she could make money off of. But I find it insulting that someone would suggest a book of such poor intellectual and stylistic quality as my generation's Feminine Mystique. A claim like that does no service to women.
2. The author of The Atlantic article cites Ke$ha's mom as a reason for this book being a feminist manifesto. (PS at this point I am very tired of typing 'Ke$ha.' It takes about 98% of my brain power to type it correctly on my first try). Ke$ha's mom was single and decided she wanted a baby. She had heard that some sperm banks in California had been discovering HIV+ samples so she was wary of utilizing them. Her solution? Have sex with a bunch of her friends and have a baby not knowing who the father was. Frankly, I think that's badass. In fact, every time Ke$ha mentions her mom she sounds freaking awesome. I want to know Ke$ha's mom. But that doesn't make Ke$ha herself the modern day feminist woman. She's cool with the decisions her mom has made, which I really respect, but we're giving Ke$ha credit for the non-traditional stuff her mom did.
3. We really need to start talking about this 'male gaze' and 'objectification' business differently. Just reappropriating the same garbage notion of objectification that men have been called out for and throwing it back at them does not an empowered woman make. Objectification is a healthy piece of sexuality--seeing another person as a means to pleasure and sexual gratification. But that objectification must also be coupled with a respect for the other's humanity and a willingness to see them as a person who has dignity. Cheap and lazy lyrics about how men shouldn't talk and just pull their dicks out isn't enough. We need to start talking about objectification in a more nuanced and less black and white way. That would be a 2012 answer to The Feminine Mystique.
4. We've actually lost our minds if we think Ke$ha is defying standard beauty norms. Allow me to refresh your mind as to what Ke$ha looks like (see left).
Sure she wears face paint and some wackadoodle outfits, but do we reallllllly want to say that a pretty, thin girl with long blond hair is rejecting standard notions of beauty? COME ON PEOPLE. Are we that starved for something even remotely out of the ordinary that we think face paint makes Ke$ha a warrior fighting for
all different kinds of beauty to be acknowledged? Help.
5. There are certain parts of The Atlantic article that I think are so
preposterous that I will not acknowledge them (see the Judith Butler
heavy section about Ke$ha's mom wearing a penis costume. I think I've
Again, I want to stress that I really don't mean this as an attack on Ke$ha. I don't think she set out to write a feminist manifesto and she's certainly not the one running around saying she wrote one. But seriously, if you've got 20 minutes and want some pop culture, easy to swallow feminism, you're better off just watching an episode of 30 Rock.