Lady Gaga in London’s Daily Mail: “I remember the cool girls when I was growing up. Everyone started to have sex. But it’s not really cool any more to have sex all the time. It’s cooler to be strong and independent.”
I wouldn’t call Lady Gaga’s endorsement of abstinence truly persuasive, especially as her statement leaves ample room for fair questions (Did sex used to be cool back in the day? Is abstinence now just a trend for cool girls?). But True Love Revolution is not usually in the habit of complaining when celebrities take a stand against sex-crazed Hollywood culture or the music industry. Nevertheless, celebrity endorsements of abstinence leave something to be desired as they conflate short-term abstinence with the true connotations and meaning behind the word.
Elizabeth Tenety is more persuaded, declaring in the Washington Post that Lady Gaga’s interview “made chastity cool.” While Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance song lyrics don’t exactly suggest putting the stops on sex, she encouraged her fans to leave sex behind. “I can’t believe I’m saying this — don’t have sex.” She continued later, “It’s OK to be whomever it is that you want to be,” she said. “You don’t have to have sex to feel good about yourself, and if you’re not ready, don’t do it.” To be fair, Lady G did add, “And if you are ready, there are free condoms given away at my concerts when you’re leaving!”
Lady Gaga, along with contestants on the most recent Bachelor series, are helping spur a new feminist movement that doesn’t view sexuality as the key to empowerment. I’m open to debating their effectiveness and even their intentions, but with magazines, music, TV shows, and movies portraying premarital sex as normal, it’s interesting to note that the stars of these mediums are urging young people to think twice.
Tenety in the Washington Post doesn’t stop with Lady G. She mentions Lenny Kravitz’s 2008 interview with Maxim magazine where he reveals that he’s been abstinent for three years, saying, “It’s just a promise I made until I get married. Where I’m at in life, the women have got to come with something else, not just the body, but the mind and spirit.”
The Jonas Brothers sport their purity rings left and right, and in the words of Joe, they represent “promises to ourselves and to God that we’ll stay pure till marriage.” Tenety points out that Jessica Simpson “famously waited for sex until her wedding to ex-husband Nick Lachey” and ‘”the world’s sexiest underwear model,” Victoria’s Secret model Adriana Lima told GQ in 2006 that she was a virgin and that as a Catholic she believes that “Sex is for after marriage.”’
If celebrities flaunt themselves sexually or continue singing sexual lyrics, can their stated commitments to abstinence truly benefit the discourse on the reasons abstinence is beneficial?