Home Quick Thoughts + Shares Hooray for Pop Star Feminism

Can I just say that I love that major female pop stars are using their music videos to make explicit statements about feminism?  It probably won’t last, so let’s savor it while it does.

First of all, of course, there’s Beyoncé’s “Flawless,” which contain’s the following monologue from Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche:

We teach girls to shrink themselves
To make themselves smaller
We say to girls
“You can have ambition
But not too much
You should aim to be successful
But not too successful
Otherwise you will threaten the man”
Because I am female
I am expected to aspire to marriage
I am expected to make my life choices
Always keeping in mind that
Marriage is the most important
Now marriage can be a source of
Joy and love and mutual support
But why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage
And we don’t teach boys the same?
We raise girls to each other as competitors
Not for jobs or for accomplishments
Which I think can be a good thing
But for the attention of men
We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings
In the way that boys are
Feminist: the person who believes in the social
Political, and economic equality of the sexes

And then there’s J-Lo’s new video, “I Luh Ya PaPi,” which contains the following dialogue about the “treatment”  for the video itself from her female collaborators:

“If she was a guy, we wouldn’t be having this conversation at all.”
“Why do men always objectify the women in every single video? Why can’t we, for once, objectify the men?”
“It could start with her on the bed with a bunch of naked guys, for no reason!…”
“And then we could be the entourage that does nothing!”

This isn’t perfect feminism.  It’s feminism in the context of a popular art that commercializes female sexuality.  And that actually makes it more amazing.

The artists objectify themselves in their videos while their condemn objectification.  While J-Lo and her friends are constumed in skin-tight low-cut clothing and dance in a very sexual manner the male guest artist, French Montana, wears baggy clothes while women writhe around him – just what the dialogue criticizes.  In her video, Beyoncé says she “woke up like this,”  but she of course didn’t.  She works like hell and alters her appearance to look the way she has to to be successful in a market that is white-normative, skinny-normative, and male-dominated.

But still… it’s a start.  The fact that these themes are being explicitly addressed in this particular popular medium is nothing short of astonishing.  I hope there will be more videos for me to add.

image source: http://sexxxisbeautiful.tumblr.com

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