Can Lady Gaga make chastity cool?

By Elizabeth Tenety What the religious right has tried to achieve for years one pop goddess achieved this week in … Continued

By Elizabeth Tenety

What the religious right has tried to achieve for years one pop goddess achieved this week in a single interview: Lady Gaga made chastity cool.

With her racy lyrics and penchant for going pantless, Lady Gaga seems an unlikely spokeswoman for abstinence. But she recently revealed to London’s Daily Mail that she is celibate and thinks it’s “not really cool anymore to have sex all the time.”

And not only did Gaga say she is celibate, but she’s encouraging her fans, whom she calls “little monsters,” to abstain, too. “I can’t believe I’m saying this — don’t have sex.” . . . “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. (And if you are ready,” she adds, “there are free condoms given away at my concerts when you’re leaving!)”

Abstinence is often associated with Catholic clergy members and religiously-inspired sex-education programming like True Love Waits. Although in the Daily Mail interview Lady Gaga did not make an explicit connection between her spirituality and her sexuality, she reportedly had a “strict Catholic upbringing” and prays before every performance.

Could a celebrity endorsement make waiting for sex cool?

(Read more about religion and sexuality at Patheos.com)

In 2008, rock idol Lenny Kravitz told Maxim magazine that he had been celibate for the previous three years. “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, whose father is a former Christian minister, are champions of abstinence, and have donned purity rings as symbols of the “promises to ourselves and to God that we’ll stay pure till marriage.”

Jessica Simpson, also the child of a preacher, 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.”

What does Lady Gaga’s endorsement mean for abstinence advocacy? Can it be cool to be chaste?

About

Elizabeth Tenety Elizabeth Tenety is the former editor of On Faith, where she produced "Divine Impulses," On Faith’s video interview series. She studied Theology and Government at Georgetown University and received her master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. A New York native, Elizabeth grew up in the home of Catholic news junkies where, somewhere in between watching the nightly news and participating in parish life, she learned to ponder both the superficial and the sacred.
  • lvdave

    Lady GaGa is not a spokesperson that religions want to embrace. Look at her videos, they way she dresses in them and some of her lyrics. So she was raised a Catholic, does not make her a saint. She is just saying to find someone you really care about and have sex on your own terms not with anyone you just meet. Using her for a case of abstinence is just ridiculous. Why don’t you use Bill Clinton as a poster boy for what is and what isn’t considered sex.

  • andrew23boyle

    Chastity will never be “cool”. I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with being chaste, but good luck convincing teenagers of that. That’s just the way it is.

  • 0nl00k3r

    Look at the whole lady gaga package. Ms. Tenety, how could you possibly be so gullible and have a job writing for the WaPo? Oh, nevermind.

  • SouthernerInDC

    kenskorupski, maybe your mind is in the gutter? I always thought “take a ride on your disco stick” was about dancing to a good DJ. Why do you assume she is talking about something sexual?

  • tomd3

    I agree with andrew23boyle in the sense that making something ‘cool’ is, frankly, a pretty lame goal. The minute one has to try hard to achieve that goal, one is already positioning oneself as eager to please – and that ain’t cool.As a praciticing Catholic, I find it alternately sad and mildly humorous that people – sometimes in Catholic circles – seem to want to package various virtues in slick, palatable ways for the current media moment. Doing so cheapens the whole idea of trying to live a virtuous life; and, those who seek to live a virtuous life by definition do not seek public approval, and certainly do not need the blessing(?) of pop culture (nor would they want it, I would guess).More specifically, I can’t imagine that Lady GaGa has any desire to carry the water for any group, much less a particular religious tradition. She’s a singer, a performer, fine – but to take it any further and presume that she ‘stands for something’ seems a little absurd. (I say that not as someone who dislikes her music but because I feel that way about any celebrity.)

  • RepealObamacareNow

    What if like, by yourself, you, uh, how do I say this? Uh . . .. Oh, darn.

  • JOHNSMOST

    So, what is a “disco stick?”

  • TonyMostyn

    She probably doesn’t have any time left over when she’s finished bluffin’ with her muffin’

  • jbanks979

    As others have noted, this is completely misinterpreting the context of what she has said.She’s not saying “never have sex before marriage. She’s saying “don’t have sex until you are ready”. To somehow interpret this as advocating a dogmatic relgious viewpoitn is to completely misunderstand what she was trying to say.

  • torileethomas

    Chastity refers to the way in which one carries themselves in daily life; speech, dress and deed. Abstinence is the refrain from sexual activity. No that we’re clear on that..

  • Jumpy66

    Oh… A “disco stick” is an object that one uses to help cope with the longings that accompany abstinence. I get it now!

  • veronihilverius

    If she’s celibate then Im Eva Braun. This is a stunt

  • andrew23boyle

    I’m sure she IS celibate.In between all the dudes.

  • ZZim

    What does Lady Gaga’s endorsement mean for abstinence advocacy? Can it be cool to be chaste? By Elizabeth Tenety Not having sex is a perfectly legitimate alternative lifestyle. It’s also a very healthy, life-extending and sanitary one.I would never do it (voluntarily, lol) but hey, they’re not hurting anyone, so let ‘em be.

  • barferio

    who is this lady gaga?

  • vedicupvan

    AUM

  • dem4life1

    I hate religion, all of them are organized hate groups of one kind or another. I love sex, especially with other men, way HOT! I am a card carrying member of the liberal elite and I have zero use for anything or anybody even remotely associated with right leaning policies.

  • Carl_Goss

    Lady Gaga is a great pop artist, I especially like the video “Bad Romance.”Seems out of touch with traditional RC morality, though.

  • dane1

    Ha ha! Celibacy is of course not cool at all. But if the call for it is coming from a sex-pot like this, I’m all for it. (And by the way, after Abstinence Class, don’t forget the free condoms.)

  • MikeH0714

    We certainly should never have permitted celebrities or the media to define our morality, good or bad. Unfortunately it’s too late. TV and movies have already done irreparable harm by incessantly chanting their “it’s okay if it feels good” mantra. You need only read some of the comments here from the brainwashed masses (i.e., “Chastity will never be ‘cool’”) to see that it’s worked.It’s in the best interests of those who refuse to accept the existence of God and morality (i.e., people like “DEM4LIFE1,” most of whom work in film and TV) to promote the amoral culture in which we find ourselves. Therefore, any celebrity – even Lady Gaga – that openly challenges the amorality is a positive step. It’s a pity more celebrities don’t have a spine in this regard; maybe then we can turn back the forty-plus years of swill that the media has force-fed us, deadening our humanity in the process.

  • dkp01

    If the Daily Mail isn’t drawing a line to her upbringing, why is this blog? Between that, and the context-free quoting, I get the feeling you’re trying to force a discussion based on nothingness.

  • rdimseynoveccom

    Didn’t she say that she was a Lesbian? Maybe she thinks that she is celebate because a man’s “you know what” is not involved?

  • Gary31

    Lady Gaga is the stage name for Stefani Germanotta’s marketing machine. Everything she says and does is part of that machine and the singular goal of the machine is – to make as much money as possible. Fame is fleeting, you have to capitalize on it as quickly as you can.She’s a 24 year old dancing around in her underwear, which is not even original (Madonna, Cher, Brittany Spears). There’s a lengthy list of identical performers that have all worked their magic on us in their various states of undress, for decades.Behind her stands a great big record production company making even more money then she is.Call it cynicism, call it what you want. But in the end it’s all just about the money.Sex sells whether you’re practicing it or preaching against it. Gaga is not some spiritual messiah leading us to a better way of life. She’s just a young girl who wants to be rich and famous and she’s achieved that goal in a spectacular way.

  • safiyah111

    It is what it appears to be: a publicity stunt and the fact that the gag has gone so far as to get here is, well-bravo

  • j2hess

    “Lady Gaga” is a piece of performance art created and performed by Stefani Germanotta. All her statements to the media should be considered as part of the performance. …*****Bravo!

  • Wildthing1

    Exactly there are ways for mutual gratification that are safe and don’t require penetrative sex…Did someone named Elders get fired for such a suggestion and it can be with a partner or a bunch of partners or in orgy fashion even! Or we could stay in the dark ages…

  • jowgajen

    What she’s saying here is that sex for sex’s sake is dull and exploitative and dangerous for both body and mind. It’s part of her overall message to her “little monsters” that we should love ourselves for who we are.

  • [email protected]

    Too bad she’s not promoting abortions, the feminists would be applauding her stance on reproductive rights….lol

  • barrysal

    Jesus said, “you will know them by their fruits”. My question is: can a lemon tree produce a rose? The Apostle Paul said: “don’t even give the appearance of doing wrong”.To any of you who believe this. REALLY???

  • kenskorupski

    Hey SouthernerInDC!You say,”I always thought “take a ride on your disco stick” was about dancing to a good DJ. Why do you assume she is talking about something sexual?”Maybe my mind is in the gutter? Gee I dunno, let’s look at some more lyrics from this same song.’Got my ass squeezed my sexy cupid’I'm on a mission,’I can see you staring there from across the block with a smile on your mouth and your hand on your huh Yup! You are absolutely correct. This song has nothing to do with sex, and everything to do with a good DJ.Again, GIMME A BREAK! For the record, I love the song and her music, but let’s not fool ourselves here please.

  • multiplepov

    Does being a narcissist who prefers herself to anyone else’s company really count as “chastity”?

  • jonawebb

    Also, don’t forget Sarah Palin and her daughter Bristol, both virgins, as is Bristol’s son, Tripp.

  • GD1975

    I actually think Lady Gaga is very entertaining; in a dark and strange sarcastic post-modern pop kinda way. But any attempt to paint her as the poster girl of celibacy is just downright ignorant. Her music speaks louder than her words.

  • tjhall1

    test

  • AgentG

    It fascinating that GaGa, a relatively short, not-all that pretty girl, with a simply outlandish sense of wardrobe (definitely not fashion!) could become so successful and popular. Her music is mundane and not overly creative. Her lyrics are perhaps provocative. It proves that it is just all the package and the marketing — it could happen to your pet turtle.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    Lady Gaga’s music videos are WAY over the top in an expression of almost “drag-queen” sexuality. I did not know that she was raised in a strict Catholic family, but now that I do, her whole schtick makes a little more sense; it’s a story repeated a thousand times.The world would be a lot better place if the whole “strict Catholic thing” could be loosened up, just a little. How come so many good little Catholic girls keep turning into Lady Gaga?

  • kenk3

    Religion is for ignorant, superstitious fools.

  • BootmanDC

    MikeH0714 wrote:The media has force fed us? Um, I don’t recall anyone holding a gun to my head and forcing me to watch a particular TV show, movie or read a particular magazine or newspaper.I believe in God and morality, but both of those are personal things. But I also believe in personal responsibility, so if I feel something is trash, I switch channels.Personally, I agree with those who say it is a publicity stunt. While it may be true, it does not fit with her music video performances or lyrics.

  • bruce18

    I think its a great message and hope she can live up to it. Not an easy task for anyone in our society, especially a performer being told by society that the rules dont apply to her.

  • mplumstead

    There is a distinct contradiction between Lady Ga Ga’s media presence and her avowed chastity. If one were to believe actions speak louder than words one would have to believe her avowed chastity is another ruse to attract attention. She prays before every performance? For what? Prevention of a wardrobe malfunction?

  • DwightCollins

    lady gaga just put a bullseye on her and her virginity…

  • spidermean2

    I think Lady Gaga is the best example for Catholicism’s hypocrisy. This is what you become if salvation is taught to be achieved thru sacraments. In other words, salvation in an ocean of ignorance or science based on superstitions. Around the world in remote places, people continue dying because of Catholicism’s Liberation Theology. People are taught to liberate themselves (which means killing their “enemies”) and blame their governments for not supporting their ballooning hungry poor family not realizing that it’s the church that put them in that situation because of the church’s stupid economic ideas (population explosion and leftist ideology).Are we sure Lady Gaga was not molested by a priest some years back? The tentacles of this church reaches the tiniest corners and cannot be underestimated.

  • cinnamonhoney04

    Ok Folks,That maybe true, but I think that society using the media has such a strong hold and control over us that no longer do people have to be forced by guns, whips or chains to do what they want them too.And as you sould know L.GaGa is used oh so well to make us entertained and intrigued by her stunts that it is hard for you to It understandable for her to say those words and have people (me included) state their opionion about what she said as though what comes out her mouth is that important…But guess what we do just what they want us to do and at times better than they even planned.We control our actions but have you noticed that even in the grocery stores name brand thing are at perfect eye level for woman, men and even children for them to want more, and then purchase more. Yup you got it making you spend more…Thats what it is about in a nut shell…MONEY Think about !

  • calvinconz

    Whenever a woman says “I’m celibate,” it usually means “the last guy I dated was a jerk and I am not falling that easy again.”

  • magnifco1000

    I think Lady Gaga is trying to take care of herself and her own head before trying to be any kind of example. From Brittany to Michael Jackson, the road of pop stardom is littered with drugs, psych wards, suicide and depression. When you have tons of money, then money loses it’s value. When you have lots of sex, sex becomes mundane and loses it’s value. You end up with endless hours of loneliness, depression and meaninglessness. Lady Gaga is trying to save herself from Elvises fate, Michael Jackson’s fate, and Janis Joplin’s fate, can you blame her?

  • pgibson1

    not my type. Is anyone the type to get really excited about this fresh, albiet another, face?face that in the a.m. ? no thanks.that alone keeps this man celibate, but you don’t read all about it.old news is old – men and women don’t really love each other anymore – they just screw and call it good.

  • mterry1

    As mentioned in a previous post, Lady Gaga’s comments are being taken completely out of context. If you read the whole article, she says: “You don’t have to have sex to feel good about yourself, and if you’re not ready, don’t do it.’ (‘And if you are ready,’ she adds, ‘there are free condoms given away at my concerts when you’re leaving!’)”She’s not preaching abstinence. She’s advocating independence and self-confidence.

  • revbookburn

    The problem is whenever a goof goes beyond a personal decision and starts preaching ‘morality,’ we can know that 1) they are speaking nonsense from the silly Taliban-training book and 2) that they probably have ongoing dirty little secrets, e.g. Ensign, Sanford, ‘Diaperman’ Vitter, Craig, Haggard, Gingrich, and so many others.

  • vze4k4bh

    Marilyn Manson (born Brian Hugh Warner; January 5, 1969) is an American musician and artist known for his controversial stage persona and image as the lead singer of the eponymous band, Marilyn Manson.Marilyn Manson was born as Brian Hugh Warner in Canton, Ohio, the only child of Barb Wyer and Hugh Jack Warner. According to his autobiography The Long Hard Road Out of Hell, Manson is of German and Polish descent on his father’s side.[5] His father was a Roman Catholic and his mother was an Episcopalian, and he was raised in his mother’s religion. Warner attended Heritage Christian School from first grade to tenth grade.

  • smomin1

    Read her statement carefully. She isn’t saying EVERYONE should be celibate – she’s simply saying it’s right for her, and that young people shouldn’t have sex unless they feel ready for it. She’s not so much advocating celibacy, but rather advocating personal empowerment.

  • Davshev

    There is a whole industry, i.e magazines, tabloids, TV shows, etc. which profits enormously by selling celebrity culture to us. And there are millions of insecure people who buy it. H.L Mencken said this about them: “No one ever went broke by underestimating the taste of the American people.”

  • jjedif

    “Jesus said, ‘you will know them by their fruits.’ “The Good Shepherd also taught that the best model for perfect HUMAN behavior is…the sheep.And Paul said that homosexuals should be executed and women should shut up.

  • stillaliberal

    Does anyone besides me think that advice about sexual restraint from someone who flaunts bare skin and jiggling flesh is perhaps not going to be taken very seriously?

  • James10

    I understand that all of the Victoria’s Secret models are virgins also.

  • jjedif

    Who cares what Lady DaDa does or says? Can’t we have a more normal and credible spokesperson…like Bristol Palin or Paris Hilton?

  • MzFitz

    Taking this out of context, as you have, really misses the point. I’m sure if she caught wind of you comparing her celibacy to True Love Waits and the Jonas Brothers, she’d be furious. Those advocate abstinence until marriage, while she is advocating sex on your terms, for the right reasons, as well as strength and independence. She also points out that,”I’ve chosen to be single because I don’t have the time to get to know anybody,” not don’t have sex until marriage. Additionally, being raised as Catholic, and attending Catholic school does not a practicing Catholic make.

  • firethief

    Lady Ga Ga is the “Madonna?” Good luck filling the other role.

  • ravensfan20008

    The hell?

  • etpietro

    While I applaud Lady Gaga for her stance, which is her own personal choice, and for being one of the few celebrities to tell young people that it’s OK not to have sex, the day we stop looking to celebrities for ANY moral guidance will be the day we are better off as a nation.

  • kenskorupski

    Sorry, but this is yet another page out of Madonna’s publicity book.She says that it is “not really cool anymore to have sex all the time.” yet releases a song purporting her desire to “take a ride on your disco stick”.Gimme a break!

  • willemkraal

    LIFE WITHOUT SEX IS JUST NO FUN JUST ASK THE POPE!!

  • borntorun45

    I’m a liberal person, and I make every effort to understand where people are coming from, but this woman is beyond me. Her obscene costumes, her obscure comments, and her strange affectations lead me to believe that there’s something awry in her wiring. I doubt that ANYone, including kids, take her seriously, so no. I don’t think that Lady Gaga claiming to be celibate is going to have an affect on… well, anything.

  • j2hess

    Perhaps chastity is not a matter of the genitals alone? Her messages are inconsistent with chastity.

  • zume1

    “Lady Gaga” is a piece of performance art created and performed by Stefani Germanotta. All her statements to the media should be considered as part of the performance. I think she would find the expension of the statement that “its not cool to have sex all the time” to a support for Catholic doctrine on sexuality as hilarious.

  • postfan1

    Lady Gaga is the present day Madonna.Expect a few controversies, along with some average pop songs, on the way to exceedingly commercial fortune and fame.Don’t be holding your breath for moral leadership. Expect more along the lines of “Do what you want, it’s all good. And come see my racy videos and concerts.”

  • DwightCollins

    I believe there is more lady gaga than Stefani Germanotta these days…

  • bobbo2

    Why doesn’t she promote chastity with her videos? Answer, she would not make any money. Lady GaGa is a market. Make tacky sex filled videos and talk about chastity. Where is the logic in this?

  • zbee1

    How neat that this article on Lady Gaga’a views on celibacy is under “theology.” This born-again Christian sees Ms. Gaga as a hugely flawed individual–just like me (and every human being) whom the Lord Jesus loves. Loves. I take my que from Him. Jesus never, ever berated women. Certainly never young girls. Understand that Ms. Gaga is not preaching her version of Scripture (as some morons do). Understand also that the Lord never berated sinners. Only the self-righteous religious.

  • longbow1

    Somebody: She’s not saying “never have sex before marriage. She’s saying “don’t have sex until you are ready”. Reply: This is the kind of thinking that’s gotten us into the expensive, socially problematic, disease-ridden society that we live in. This is emotion-think. Does a 13 y/o believe they are ready? Does any man in a close encounter with a woman think they’re not ready?

  • techbuyer77

    It is super cool to be abstinent! It is a great peace of mind and it gets you so much closer to God. Besides if you are a female, you are actually protecting yourself. Casual sex hurts the body and the soul. Sex has to mean something. I am really happy that the media is realizing that the abstinence message is not all bad.

  • interactidiomas

    Even in the 50′s, when “having sex” wasn’t considered “cool”- there sure were a lot of teens doing it. We are animals, part of a species- it’s our biolgical imperative to attempt to prcreate. Everything we do to impede that imperative is just window dressing and wishful thinking, that has limited and temporary success in the vast majority of cases and leads to behavioral tendencies that are contradictory to our biological “wiring.”

  • RichardHode

    There is no one so preoccupied with sex as the right-wingers and the religious. They are sex-obsessed to the point of perversion – always worrying about chastity, “decency,” sex before marriage, etc. Their monomania is enough to drive one insane. However, there is one thing that supersedes their obsession with the old in-out, in-out: money. Great people, these …

  • jromaniello

    I think it’s her overall message. That you it’s okay to not have sex if you are not ready. But if you are ready, here is a condom and be careful. There is nothing wrong with with encouraging waiting, but you need to also instruct on how to protect, should one decide they are ready to have sex. Her message is moderate, logical, and not condescending. The syrupy, “remaining pure” rhetoric of the Christian right, Jonas Brothers, Jessica Simpson, et al. is a turn off. I actually find the concept of having premarital sex making someone “impure” rather offensive, really. I’m sure many others do too.

  • seter16

    ANIMALS MATE….WE ARE ANIMALS!!! YET FOR SOME REASON SOME HUMANS REFUSE TO ACKNOWLEDGE THIS!!!

  • hakafos44

    I knew I liked that young lady.

  • Makiz

    LIFE WITHOUT SEX IS JUST NO FUN JUST ASK THE POPE!!

  • jbatt01

    She’s bluffin’ with her muffin………

  • FredEvil

    MikeH0714 – “It’s in the best interests of those who refuse to accept the existence of God and morality”I don’t refuse to accept it’s existence, I just have yet to have it proven to me. Why do you have such a low threshold of evidence? Gullible much?

  • YEAL9

    Gagging over “Lady” Gaga!!!

  • JillianGall

    I do not think Lady Gaga is necessarily trying to convey celibacy as ‘cool.’ she is expressing that young girls should not feel pressured into having sex or with anyone for the sake of it, do it for love and the purpose that God intended it to be for. Lady Gaga isn’t using her fame a way to induce girls to be like her but to portray a good example, unlike some celebrities. Even though she may have music videos with her wearing provactive clothing, which I believe is her expressing herself, she still is using her fame for good and understaning that she has a young, persudable audience listening to her.

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