Friday, 29 August 2014

Empowering... or Just The Same Old Story?


So it's been ages (sorry about that). You know, summer and all. Way too busy watching multiple episodes of Orange is the New Black.

But then the 'Anaconda' video came out, and I was talking about it with my friends, and I've been thinking about it quite a bit. To tell you the truth, I've been very confused for a while now. But that's just what feminism is all about, isn't it? The bottom line is to respect women as equals to men, and that's all fine and dandy, but I feel like a grey area arises at "sexual empowerment".

So, we mostly started talking about this when Miley Cyrus came and did her thang. Twerking at the VMAs, and generally being scantily clad and dancing raunchily. Loads of people were like "yeah, Miley, you're such a feminist! You own your sexuality, you go girl!"

And why the fuck not? Why shouldn't Miley be able to go crazy whilst she's young and give no shits and take off her clothes? She's not Hannah Montana anymore - in fact, *newflash*, she never was. Nobody would give a single fuck if it was a man.

Same with  Nicki Minaj. Why shouldn't she be able to applaud curvy girls everywhere and their "buns"? She can look sexy if she damn well wants to.

But then I have to ask myself when I see stuff like this: how is this anything new?

We all talk about this shit like it's so groundbreaking and amazing, "women taking charge of their bodies, empowering themselves"... but to me it just looks like the same old shit. Woman = sex. What else is new? We've been defined by how hot we are since forever! OK, yeah, they're doing it on their own terms, which is a hell of a lot better than just being some random naked model as an accessory to a music video (*cough cough* Robin Thicke). But... they're still being looked at as sex objects. 

I mean, don't get me wrong, it's great that Nicki is basically saying that you don't have to be skinny and white to be hot. Because the world does need a lot more of that. We have always been told that the definition of a sexy woman is thin and caucasian. I mean, I'm thin and caucasian and I can admit that. It's fucking obvious. But I still get the feeling that we're doing this for men. "My anaconda don't want none unless you got buns hun". Basically, "my dick don't want you unless you got a fat ass". I'm all for appreciating a fat ass, but it's still appreciating women's bodies through the male gaze. She's still rubbing whipped cream on her chest as an innuendo for male ejaculation (right?!). Still kinda possessive. It's still men telling us how to look. When Miley was twerking at the VMAs, it was on Robin Thicke's crotch. It's still being sexy for a man. 

BUT then you could argue that Nicki knows that, and she's using it. Like at the end, when she started giving Drake a lap dance and I began to think "how the *fuck* is this video in any way feminist? She's being so submissive!" But then she just walked away and left him there without satisfying him, and it felt as if she was owning the whole thing. She was in control, and she was using his weakness against him.

Let's not overlook the fact that the 'anaconda' line is taken from a song that is all about appreciating black women's bodies from the male perspective. You could argue that Nicki is taking the lyrics from Baby Got Back and showing it from a female perspective, of owning it for herself, not for somebody else. She's saying "yeah, women are fucking hot! But we know that ourselves. We don't just need men telling us."

In the verses, she talks about men in the same way that men, for years, have rapped about women:

"This dude named Michael used to ride motorcycles
Dick bigger than a tower, I ain’t talking about Eiffel’s
Real country ass nigga, let me play with his rifle
Pussy put his ass to sleep, now he calling me NyQuil
Now that bang bang bang, I let him hit it cause he slang cocaine
He toss my salad like his name Romaine"


So... are we taking control or are we just giving objectifying men what they want?

I feel like the answer to this issue is to not let it define you. Nicki Minaj can shake her beautiful ass as much as she wants, as long as people appreciate that she's talented as well. If you are a strong, intelligent, woman, why not? It's certainly better than telling women they have to cover up and only speak when spoken to etc. 

And Nicki knows what she's about, as shown here:

So I think, (literally in the process of writing this post I have realised) instead of telling women what to do, and focusing on what the women are doing, we should be impressing it upon people that women can do whatever the fuck they want, and should be able to be just as assertive and confident as a man. It's not the artists that we should be criticising here, it's the audience. I never in a million years would have called Nicki a "slut" or a "trashy hoe". The whole topic can become a bit of a mindfuck, but it's not like we can just tell these women not to dance naked, because why the fuck can't they? And that's the bottom line, I guess.

I feel like I literally just had an argument against myself... 
Anyway, let me know what you guys think. I'm sorry if this made zero sense.

-Tegan xo

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