Whipped Cream Feminism: The Underlying Message in Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” Video.

I’d been wanting to break out a whipped cream bra for a future Halloween, but seeing as I’ve already got my costumes planned for the next five years, my friend April suggested I bust it out (get it?) for our friend Eddie’s bad taste themed birthday this past weekend, thus keeping it relevant.

I was enormously nervous about it, as it’s probably one of the most attention-seeking costumes I’ve ever worn—and that’s saying something! Also, the party was held at a pub in Melbourne Central! Luckily, I had the company of Joel Monaghan to share the humiliation with.

But, there was a message behind the madness; well, several actually. Allow me to elaborate.

#1. Though not related to the underlying message of Katy Perry’s video, in essence, my costume was totes an oxymoron. Because although it was derived from the worst taste film clip of the year, thus making it perfect bad taste party fodder, the costume actually tasted good (as photos of partygoers sampling my cans will attest).

#2. While “California Gurls” is highly sexualised, Perry is literally using her sexuality as a weapon: taking down Snoop Dogg’s “troop of gangsta gummis” with her whipped cream cans. In some ways, she is subverting the common perception of woman as sex object and turning her into a subject. It’s just heavily sugar coated and therefore easy to miss.

#3. As someone who is not such a fan of Perry’s (love her music; hate her), I tend to lean more towards shock value and über-sexuality as the means behind the video as opposed to the above argument.

Laura Money mentions in her guest post “On Stripping” the notion of “lipstick feminists”; I would argue that Perry is very much the “lipstick feminist”, though in this case she could be labelled a “whipped cream feminist”; using her sexuality purely for entertainment and shock value—and thus record sales and YouTube views.

So, Perry’s video and my costume were both making a statement; the former shock value and the latter best (worst?) bad taste costume (yes, I did win the unofficial vote!). While I tried to incorporate the above points into my costume to make a statement on feminism and to provide blog ammo, somehow I’m not so sure Perry did the same thing…

Related: Bad Taste Foxymorons.

The Witching Hour: Halloween/My Birthday at Witches in Britches Cabaret.

On Stripping.

’Tis the Season…

Beauty & the Bestiality.

Elsewhere: [SodaHead] Is Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” Video Exploitation or Feminism?

7 thoughts on “Whipped Cream Feminism: The Underlying Message in Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” Video.

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  2. Interesting stuff – the meaning we bring to something and the meaning other people take away. My ‘problem’ with folks like Perry is that in using this ‘I’m all sexy and empowered’ statement, she’s using a very similar version of female sexuality that (mostly) men have created. It will also titillate men of course, and I imagine the video was made more for them than for women! But then, of course, shouldn’t women be allowed to wear what they want? Oh, all very complicated!

  3. Complicated indeed! I dislike Perry in general and think she is a bit of a try-hard, but I agree with both your statements; it is a very fine line to walk between empowerment and succumbing to the patriarchy and what they define as “sexy”. And what one thinks is empowered sexiness, another thinks is buying into said patriarchy and selling yourself short as a female.

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