Critically discuss Katy Perry’s ‘dressin up’ (2010) from the perspective of feminist theory Essay Example

Critical analysis of Katy Perry’s ‘Dressing up’(2010) from the perspective of feminist theory

Men and women have different conceptualization of the issues of gender and sexuality. They both have wide differences-and at times ill-defined-conceptualization of sex and sexuality issues. However, the most important aspect in the battle to get the issues correctly, the answer lies in the socialization and psychoanalytic make of the two. In the field of music, music videos are meant to connect the hyper-sexualized images of women to male consciousness. Women performers feel the pressure to shape their images to fit the gendered script of women’s sexuality and thus often position themselves not as sexual actors, but as sexual objects for the gaze of the male audience. This essay seeks to critically analyze ‘Dressing Up’ by Katy Perry.

Moira Gatens seeks to confront the subject of sexuality in a different way. Most feminists have shied away from explicitly stating the matters affecting women. Women are to be viewed merely as objects of sex and this has forced many of them to go extra miles to please the male audience. In ‘Dressing Up,’ even though modestly dressed when compared to other music videos, Katy Perry is explicitly dressed in order to appease her male audience. The questions that beg for answers are how does this happen? And why is it not male characters stripping to appease women? With regard to this, Gatens contends that the ‘imaginary’ body is the place of the production of the historically specific elements of masculinity and femininity (1996, 12). Gatens states, “An analysis of the imaginary body will show it tobe the site of the historical and cultural specificity of the masculinity and femininity. It is to the imaginary body that we must look to find the key or the code to the decipherment of the social and personal significance of male and female biologies as lived in culture, that is, masculinity and femininity (1996, 12). In essence, the way Katy Perry acts and what she wears in the song is not a new concept. There have been numerous studies that explicate how this came to happen and why women are always vulnerable to men.

The society has explicit gender roles and positions in the society which have come from the socialization and biological make (at least according to Freud). According to Freud women are passive creatures and this claim is supported by different biological make up. In the song, Kat Perry looks, sounds and acts in a submissive way as she attempts to appease her ‘dirty doggy.’ In an effort to understand this notion, Moira writes, “Freud saw the biology of women and men as unproblematic-the ovum is passive, the sperm is active-the problem for him was the psychology of masculinity and femininity which ‘mirrors’ this biology: the man actively penetrates the passive vagina. However, it is not given a priori that the penis is active and the vagina is passive. This understanding of heterosexuality is implicated in an imaginary anatomy, where the vagina is conceived of a ‘hole,’ a ‘lack’ and the penis a ‘phallus’” (1996, 13). This statement probably explains the origin of the explicitly witnessed in movies, music videos and many other real life situations. Freud implies that women are fundamentally weak and occupy the second slot in the pecking order. This is brought out in the song when Katy Perry sings, “Be a good boy and I’ll show you the rest Ooh, my little voyeur wants to play explorer” (17-18). In essence, Perry invites the good boy who is a man to explore affirming the concept of passivity in sexuality.

In an effort to understand the concept of the body and gender in music videos, Toril Moi explicates the sources of the distortions and what is called ‘normal’ in the society today. She states, “By claiming that gender is performative, Butler basically meant to say that we create our gender by doing gendered things. Our behavior either cements or undermines social gender norms” (2008, 122). Therefore, the theorist affirms that some things are picked from the society. It is the society that makes a man and a woman; otherwise both man and woman are born without the concept of nudity and many other pertinent tags. In the song Katy Perry seemed to just ape what other fellow musicians had done before and at the same time she had already been socialized by the society to think act and talk in a particular way.

The exposition of performativity as materialization questions the integrity of the sex/gender and reflects to the theorization of the issue. The women have been depicted to be more material than the men and that the former’s responsibility in the world is to provide only the stuff of life and heavily rely on men who have the capacity to produce. This forms the basis of the argument that women are actually second to men. Katy Perry indeed reaffirms this notion throughout the song as she sings about giving pleasure to the man. She sings, “Tonight, I’m gonna come alive/Make you forget about your nine to five/Are you ready for your blood to rise?/Tonight’s the night/I’m dressing up for you” (19-25). Consequently, it is important to note that the conceptualization of sexuality, the body and gender difference emanates from different sphere that includes socialization and the biological make of both sexes. Gatens enthrallingly, logically, and acerbically engages with the moral, lawful and sexual relations between menfolk and womenfolk which are placed in appropriate historical, sociological and biological context.

Work Cited

Katy Perry. Dressing Up Lyrics. Retrieved on April 23, 2014 from

Gatens, Moira. (2013). Imaginary Bodies: Ethics, Power and Corporeality. New York: Routledge

Moi, Toril. (2008) ‘I am not women writer: about woman, literature and feminist theory today, feminist theory.