Do what you want
What you want with my body
Do what you want
What you want with my body

from Lady Gaga (Ft. R. Kelly) – Do What U Want Lyrics on Rap Genius

Meaning

Gaga plays with ambiguity in the word “body” here, meaning one of many things.

The first (and most obvious) connotation of “body” is one that directly refers to the corporeal being of Mama Monster. Gaga’s body has taken a lot of abuse since her foray into the limelight. In addition to several less-severe health scares (irregular heartbeat resulting in the cancellation of Monster Ball shows, Gaga also suffered from synovitis and a kind-of broken hip in February of 2013. As a result of this injury, Gaga cancelled the rest of her Born This Way Ball tour and underwent surgery at the advice of her physician. Notably, each of these health scares came as a side effect of her prescription to The Fame, sacrificing her body for the sake of the fans like a sort of pop music Christ.

Gaga has also faced exceptional scrutiny from the press about her own treatment of her body. Invoking a similar theme to that of Britney Spears' “Piece of Me” (“I’m Mrs. ‘She’s too big!’ now ‘She’s too thin!’”), the “body” in this lyric calls back to Gaga’s struggle with fluctuating weight. Notably, Gaga received flack during a “too thin” moment in April 2012 for promoting a paradoxical pop star diet and exercise regimen from the same woman who brought the world “Born This Way.”

In early 2013, Gaga received criticism for a weight gain that prompted her to post a heart-felt message on LittleMonsters.com. Attached were intimate photos of her body with the hope of creating a Body Revolution. These rises and plummets from the favor of the media come ringing through her emotional plea, “Do what you want with my body!”

Gaga, perhaps unwittingly with the inclusion of sketchy-at-best R & B legend R. Kelly, also demonstrates a more sexual reading of the word “body,” invoking the gut-wrenching emotion present with “Swine” in its heavy implications of sexual abuse. In this approach, Gaga tells the sexually-predatory media that they can keep at their statutory plundering of her body because they “can’t stop her voice.” This specific connotation of the lyric makes the single’s cover especially sassy, practically goading the media into writing headlines like “Booty Gaga Shocks with Raciest Cover Ever.” Gaga says, “Kiss my ass.”

Gaga could also be referring to her body of work, elaborating on themes present in the album’s title track, “ARTPOP.” Gaga makes it known that she’s in this business for “the music, not the bling,” while also asserting that her “ARTPOP could mean anything.” This lyric, when taken quite literally, invites in literary criticism of the Reader Response sort, killing the author with one fell swoop. Perhaps this is the body she left in a trunk on Highway 10?

In essence, Gaga’s musical offerings are the only gift she really owes the public, telling the public that they can “do what [they] want with” her music, but they’ll never know the girl who lives behind the aura.

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