What do Il Divo, Boy George, One Direction, The Beatles, and Prince have in common?
They all met millions of adoring fans, performed for world leaders and made history. Thanks to their gender-bending, pop sexploits, they have united gender equality and political chutzpah onto the primetime I-vision.
These celebs – “Genderless Pop Stars,” as The Masked Wife would call them – have drawn from a literature of power – Martin Luther King Jr., Jane Fonda, Princess Diana, and so on – and moved them into an uplifting landscape for culture. They radiate masculinity with their panache. Their albums get to number one; they inspire World Cup trophies. In various polls, at least 80 percent of men count themselves among the “genderless pop stars” growing among young girls.
All this gender-bending rock and roll is captured on a tongue-in-cheek poster appearing on the exhibition page of london-based feminist publication The Tab: “Self Esteem.” The paper calls its advert series self-empowerment art.
But self-empowerment meets a feminist-exoticism ready-made in global norms of how to be seen. . If “self-esteem” looks like “feminism,” the self-made labels for the acts add some spice. The composers of songs like “I Want Candy” and “Kiss That Girl” articulate their attitude with rebellious chants, swipes at the patriarchy and defiance. They say, “I want fun/ Not equal rights,” and “What do you mean?” to when asked for the gender-neutral pronouns. Their heroes are girls and women – like Maria Callas, Maureen Dowd, Sandra Bernhard and Rihanna.