The Lady Gaga track entitled "Burqa" leaked recently, and as usual, the superstar has caused controversy and outrage across the board. A simple Google search will reveal the veritable shitstorm that the pop singer has caused with the recent cultural appropriation fad that Miley Cyrus once monopolized. However you interpret the lyrics and intentions, there's a new development in the "Burqa" fallout—the singer's fans a.k.a. "Little Monsters" are posting photos of themselves online and bragging about their "#BurqaSwag."
When you're done punching your computer screen and yelling this, take a deep breath and block out a few minutes to logically try to comprehend what, exactly, is going on. A burqa is a garment that some Muslim women wear to cover their bodies in public. It is a cultural, religious, and societal custom that is interpreted by followers of the Qur'an. This isn't the most outrageous instance of fashion pillaging various cultures and using the "otherness" of identities as props. In fact, the burqa has itself been re-appropriated onto the fashion catwalk, but it is certainly the most high-profile occasion.
As numerous critics have pointed out, the meat of the issue is that Lady Gaga is in a position of privilege where she can choose when and where to don something that holds so much weight in a culture and religion that she is not a part of. She never has to deal with the complexities, intricacies, and implications that women around the world face when putting on or not putting on a burqa. She sits above this all and chooses to dip and dabble into the various identities and cultures that sit upon the lazy Susan before her, ripe for looting and appropriating.
The lyrics, "Do you wanna see me naked, lover? Do you wanna peak underneath the cover?" do a pretty nice job of hypersexualizing the religious garment, which, based on The Qur'an, is for women "to guard their private parts, and not to display their beauty except what is apparent of it," except to men in their immediate lives. But from that text, thousands of years of history, cultural, and individual identity are tied up in the singular piece, and Lady Gaga is simply using it as a prop for her newest club anthem.
And now her fans have gotten in on the fun. The Tumblr called "RacistLittleMonsters" has done a nice job of rounding up the most atrocious and idiotic misgivings, as well as the responses they've elicited. #BurqaSwag is the child of ignorant narcissistic participation in a twisted mob mentality, and blindly following a misguided superstar who's caged up in a world of privilege and egotistic maneuvers that only serve to remain relevancy via shock value. Feel free to get cake like Lady Gaga, but don't blindly follow her style choices like her fans.