Today, CNN.com reports that Lady Gaga has been forced to cancel a scheduled performance in Indonesia, “citing security concerns after Islamic hardliners denounced her costumes and dance moves as too risqué.”
Security concerns? Why might there be concerns for Lady Gaga’s security, (and the security of her crew, and the security of the concert attendees) just because someone has a problem with her or with what she’s doing, or expected to do?
Oh that’s right, it’s because men always, always back up their “concerns” with credible threats of violence. Or rather, they cloak their threats in the rhetoric of “concern” in order invisiblize the context of constant, baseless — but for to support male power and male-centric institutions — and egregious male violence in which we all exist every day.
The “negotiation” aspect of it, where the intended target is given the opportunity to avoid negative outcomes by exercising their “agency” gives the appearance of a quid pro quo, as if the impending violence — if it occurs — will be in response to an individual occurrence devoid of context, rather than a longstanding political policy and practice of violent enforcement of patriarchal mores, whatever those mores happen to be.
And of course, both the mores and the violent enforcement of them are specifically designed to support patriarchal institutions and male power both locally and globally. Male violence, and violent enforcement of patriarchal mores is never a one-off, even though it’s always made to seem as if it is; and it’s made to seem as if it’s “regional” or cultural when in fact it’s global, and patriarchal.
Here, we see that the connection between male “concerns” and male violence is taken so completely for granted that CNN doesn’t feel the need to explain or even acknowledge the connection at all — “concerns” and “threats of violence” are used as synonyms here — so the relationship between the two is never addressed, as if violence naturally flows from emotion, politics, or religion when really there’s nothing “natural” or inevitable about it at all — in fact, it’s a decidedly male, not a human response.
CNN also conveniently ignores the obvious misogyny and the political implications of threatening specifically women with decidedly male violence, and violent patriarchal enforcement, when those women fail to conform to whatever patriarchal mores are in vogue in a particular time and place. Of course, since patriarchal mores are somewhat inconsistent globally, all women are in danger of violent retribution all the time; here, all Lady Gaga has to do is announce her intention to travel, and suddenly it becomes very obvious that even she is subject to violent patriarchal controls (as if there was ever any doubt) where that might not have been obvious otherwise. Of course, it was always true. And it’s true for her in the United States too.
And the patriarchal media and their own policies and practices in reporting on men’s implicit threats of violence, and the pervasiveness and homogeny of media images and tactics employed in these instances furthers the patriarchal agenda and violent enforcement of it by normalizing and invisiblizing both.