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Gender Studies Fall 2015: Born This Way - A Critical Analysis (Essay Sample)


Gender Studies

Fall 2015

 Critical Analysis Paper Assignment

 Your assignment is to write an original 750-1000 word essay in response to the prompt provided below.  Your paper must be submitted via

 For this assignment, you will present a thesis-driven analysis of a music video in which you identify and critically engage the gender ideology that it presents.  In your paper, you should address the following questions: How is femininity and masculinity represented in the video?  Does the video affirm and/or challenge gender stereotypes?  How does race inform gendered representations in the video? (Not necessary to answer all of these)

 You may choose for analysis a) any music video that has been discussed in lecture or section; or b) any other music video, provided you obtain prior approval of your selection from your TA. 

 In your analysis, you should discuss at least three assigned readings from the course.  The intention of this assignment is for you to critically engage with the assigned materials; outside research is neither expected nor required to receive an A grade.  However, if you do choose to consult outside sources, please make sure to include full citation information.

 Here are some points to think about as you approach this assignment:

 Organization:  Your essay should be clearly organized.  We recommend that you begin with an introductory paragraph that clearly states your main arguments.

 When to Cite vs. When to Paraphrase:  Proper citation practice is critical for success. Failing to acknowledge your reliance on the thinking and writing of others constitutes plagiarism and is a serious breach of academic integrity.  At the same time, use of direct quotations can be problematic if quoted text is not accompanied by original analysis.  As a general rule, you should use direct quotes sparingly, making an effort where appropriate to paraphrase an author’s argument rather than simply pasting a passage into your paper. (Remember that you must include a citation even when you paraphrase).  Direct quotes should be chosen carefully to highlight key points, and should not be used as a substitute for original analysis.

 Citation format: All citations in your paper should follow the MLA format for in-text citations.  

 Information about in-text citation formatting is available here:

 Proofreading: All papers should be proofread.  We strongly encourage you to ask someone else to read your final draft in order to spot grammatical errors and awkward phrasing.  Papers will be marked down if they are not edited.

 Works Cited: At the end your paper, you should provide a Works Cited page (please note that the word count should not include the Works Cited page).

 Information about preparing a Works Cited page is available here:

 Format:  Your paper should be double-spaced, using a standard 12-point font (Times New Roman or equivalent), with 1.25 inch left/right margins and 1 inch top/bottom margins. You do not need a separate cover page.

After I discuss with my TA, I would like to use Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” as the music video.

 Below is the conversation between my TA(she is the grader) and me and hopefully it can help. My last essay earned a low grade because TA feels the organization is not good. She prefers something as clear as a 5 paragraph essay. I already asked her to check out if my thesis is ok, and she gave some suggestion. So maybe you could modify the thesis a little bit for me and I would like you to agreeing Lady Gaga’s idea as your argument. The essay requires 3 reading resources from class material and I am going to give you some for you to choose as a separate doc.

2015-12-01 23:27 GMT-08:00 I wrote:

Do you mind giving me an better example of thesis?

I was going to use "In Lady Gaga's Born this Way, she teaches women should all love their gender identities that they were born into including their sex and race."as my thesis.

[student’s name] [course] [professor’s name] [date] Born This Way: A Critical Analysis One may say that Lady Gaga belongs to a new generation of artists who use music to bring social messages to public consciousness. Born This Way, one of her most popular singles, is a testament to this. The number of scholars who has published their interpretation of the meaning behind the song is overwhelming, but even more so is the differences in their analysis. For some, “‘Born This Way’ cemented Lady Gaga’s reputation as a pop crusader for anyone and everyone positioned outside the social mainstream” (Williams 3) but others see it as a selling out, a “cashing in on the feel-good-we’re-all-post-homophobic vibe of the contemporary moment” (Williams 4–5). There are others who look at it as a declaration of the victory of nature over nurture, while some, see it as Gaga’s denial of “agency in her self-production with the kind of ontological shrug that says not just ‘who knows?’ but ‘who cares’?” (Williams 6). What exactly did Lady Gaga mean when she sang: “Ooh, there ain't no other way, baby, I was born this way/I'm on the right track, baby, I was born this way”? Through this song, I believe that Lady Gaga was introducing a new kind of feminism that helps women realize that whatever physical body or social circumstances she is born into, she is in the perfect setting to effect change. While the song has been parsed so many times to determine its implications to identity politics, “much less attention has been paid to the song’s  deployment of terms denoting racialized identities” (Williams 6). Consider the following lines: Don’t be a drag, just be a queen/Whether you’re broke or evergreen/You’re black, white, beige, chola descent/You’re Lebanese, you’re orient/Whether life’s disabilities/Left you outcast, bullied or teased,/Rejoice and love yourself today/‘Cause baby, you were born this way/No matter gay, straight or bi/Lesbian, transgendered life/I’m on the right track, baby/I was born to survive/No matter black, white or beige/Chola or orient made/I’m on the right track, baby/I was born to be brave.             At surface level, one may think that Gaga was simply saying “love who you are, regardless of your social circumstances”. While this is true, there is something deeper to this. These lines are positioned prominently in the song hence it is a surprise that very few researchers actually pay attention to it. These lines can be easily overlooked but if one will recall, at the beginning of the music video itself, Gaga asked: “how do you protect something beautiful without using violence?” Clearly, she wasn’t just talking about individual beauty, but was essentially saying: There are many kinds of beauty, we are born this way, but how do you protect us wi...
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