I recently came across an article about The Veronicas that, in addition to mentioning the Australian-born duo in the same breath as Katy Perry (cringe) and Lady GaGa (shudder), used the term "post-post feminist" to describe all three acts.
The question here is not what the hell "post-post feminist" is supposed to mean — the answer is probably that it doesn't mean anything — the question is why we still, in 2009, feel it necessary to hash out what brand of sexy, nonthreatening "feminism" our female pop stars are carrying in their handbags as they strut and fret and smile innocuously across the ruddy carpet of our culture.
As the F-word devolves further into marketing PR-speak, we're left with Katy Perry's infantilized, finger-sucking "naughtiness" — sexual transgression for the sake of male titillation more than anything — and a long list of songs that are Feminist Lite at best. (Really, Beyoncé could find another guy? What power! Meanwhile, Jay-Z's got 99 problems, and, um, a lady ain't one.)
To be fair, The Veronicas — comprised at the core of twin sisters Jessica and Lisa Origliasso — do not fly the flag of post-post anything on their own ship. If there is a fourth wave of feminism afoot, Jess and Lis haven't made much of an indication that their boots were made for walking in any of its rallies. The Veronicas are, at best, an appealingly escapist pop band, and not one that has any intention of overturning (or even challenging) the men-have-swagger-women-are-vulnerable order of the pop universe.
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Still, for a band that gleefully cites an aversion to fascists on its YouTube channel, their recent appearance on the Miss USA pageant — now infamous for Carrie Prejean's weird, misinformed "opposite marriage" monologue — does seem like a mixed message at the very least. The Veronicas' participation in (and implicit endorsement of) such a production suggests that "post-post feminism," if there is such a thing, is just a new brand name for "pre-feminism."
The song The Veronicas performed at the pageant was "Untouched," which was co-written with producer Toby Gad. Ironically, Gad also has a co-write on Beyoncé's "If I Were a Boy," one of those willowy ballads (though affecting, in its way) about women being emotionally trod upon and, for the most part, putting up with it, if unhappily. If the roles really were reversed, if Beyoncé were a boy, we would hardly expect beefcake on parade — and vapid answers from the Mr. South Carolinas of the world — to be the norm, now would we?
"Untouched" is an adequate pop song — catchy, if a bit obvious and of-the-moment, with its blend of electro sounds, digital-sounding orchestral samples and vaguely punky guitars. Like many a pop hit, it's about not being able to touch someone you'd like to touch. Never mind whether it's possible to "feel so untouched," the song is perfectly harmless.
Perhaps too perfectly.