Recently, Jennifer Lopez and Iggy Azalea released a video for the song cleverly named “Booty”. It was viewed on Youtube over 20 million times within two days of being posted.
I won’t link the video, but here is the synopsis: Two grown women dance in swimsuits and underwear while the camera focuses and pans across their butts, bellies, and other body parts. There is limited screen time for the women’s faces but that is overshadowed by the body shots and the slapping and caressing associated with those shots.
Here is the problem that I have with the video: it is bad for girls and women, not to mention boys and men.
There is an on going battle for women to be treated with more respect, to be seen for more than just their bodies, to not be ashamed of their shape and size. In addition we have campaigns to end sex crimes against women and to save women in sex trafficking. We are trying to change the attitudes and social stigmas surrounding rape – and how we approach preventing it. In general we are pushing for society to stop treating women as meat or the property of others.
All of these ideas I am more than in favor of. I may not agree with every one of the claims or actions of the various campaigns and groups, but I agree that women in our society are not being treated appropriately and that things need to change.
Lately I’ve been feeling like we have been making some headway in improving how women are treated. But my hopes have been greatly damaged by several recent events – this video by Iggy and Jennifer being paramount amongst them.
Think I am being a prude, or passing judgment on a couple of “proud, powerful, independent women”? Well lets take a look at the lyrics:
The way she twerk it, not fair
She got a booty, that’ll swallow a thong
I wanna take that big ‘ol booty shopping at the mall
The entire song is similar, using the word “Booty” 35 times and the word “big” 45 times to describe that booty
But wait, there is more. Remember, we want women to be treated with respect right? We want men to stop looking at women as meat right?
How will we ever accomplish that when two of the most powerful women in music, strip down, slap each other’s butts, and sing:
All the sexy girls in the party
Go and grab a man, bring him to the dance floor
Go on let them jeans touch you while you’re dancing
It’s his birthday, give him what he ask for
What is the message here? What are we telling women and especially girls? We are telling them they are meat! We are telling them to take their “big booty”, grab some random dude, and let him touch them on the dance floor. And why are we doing this? BECAUSE IT’S HIS “BIRTHDAY”?
And how is this message going to affect the attitudes of males? Boys who are trying to figure out how to be men are now thinking: “hey, let me touch you. You should give me what I want, because it’s my birthday”. Jennifer and Iggy say that’s the way it should be. How is a teenage girl, or boy, supposed to argue with them? Iggy and Jennifer are powerful, proud, independent women – right? They are famous, they get 20 million views and tons of money and are given awards on the TV.
Beyond what is said in the video, what is done in the video has a similar message. A 45 year old woman and a 24 year old woman (remember: rich, famous, celebrities) spend 4 minutes half naked rubbing, shaking, caressing, slapping, and teasing for the viewer. If this is what is needed to be popular and loved (something most people, especially young women, want) then why not just make your own video? You’ve got a camera phone and Youtube. In a matter of minutes you could make your own Booty video and share it for the world to see.
Part of the reason all of this this is bothering me is because I recently spent a couple of days in Vegas. Anyone who has been there knows that a quick walk down the strip reveals dozens of instances of women being used for their bodies.
I also, recently, had to listen to several pre-teen girls sing the impressive Niki Manaj lyrics:
My Anaconda don’t…
My Anaconda don’t…
My Anaconda don’t want none unless you got buns hun
These girls, who have not yet even begun to develop the features of a mature female, are already being taught by Niki that they need to have a certain body type to be desirable to men. (And in this case, men that deal drugs, and who expect certain sexual favors). Beyond that they are being taught that the only thing they have to offer the world is their bodies and nothing more.
But the biggest reason that this is bothering me right now, is that we just found out we are having a baby girl. This will be our first daughter. I am very excited and a little terrified at the same time.
I hope I am able to explain to her that regardless of what rich-and-famous people tell her she does not have to follow their lead.
- She does not have to shake her butt for others (Iggy and Jennifer)
- She does not have to “give him what he asks for” (Iggy and Jennifer)
- She does not have to worry about how “sexy” her “booty” is (Jennifer, Iggy,Niki)
- She does not have to swing naked from construction equipment (Miley)
- She does not have to crawl around on the beach mostly nude (Beyonce)
- She does not have to bring her friends to her man’s office to dance for him (Beyonce)
- She does not have to grind with other women for men to enjoy (Niki)
I will also try to explain to her that she doesn’t have to be skinny, and tone, and have big boobs, and, apparently, also maintain a big butt at the same time.
I will explain that a famous, rich, insecure, exhibitionist woman should not have any bearing on her ideals or self worth.
I will explain to her that her worth isn’t found in her body, or her sexiness, or her brain, or “who she is on the inside”. No I will teach her that her value is found in her as a whole person. Not parts of a person. Not in the eyes or opinions of others. But in her entire self and in her ever growing potential.
But yet, I am worried that I might not even be heard.
How can I be heard over the constant pressure of “powerful, independent women” like these famous celebrities?
I haven’t even dipped into the lyrics and videos produced by the male populace of the entertainment world. I can’t yet fathom how to approach that ludicrous situation.
I support ladies being treated better by men. I really want to see that happen. But how are we going to make any headway when celebrity women are sending the exact opposite message? How can we expect better of the male celebrities? How can we possibly hope for change? How can young girls know that their worth isn’t found in their booty when the trending topic on their Facebook page is exactly “J-Lo Booty”?
How are young men supposed to know that women aren’t objects, that their value isn’t found in their sexuuality, and that the girls they associate with don’t owe them anything, when the “sex symbols” of our society are acting like objects, claiming value through sexuality, and saying that men should get what they want?
I suppose if we want our society to include the regular use of rape underwear, and rape bras, and rape fingernail polish, then we can just stay on the same path we currently travel. Because the messages we are sending young men and young women are completely inline with promoting a highly sexualized youth environment where the women are here to just give the men what they want.
I have to hold back the vomit every time I think about even a remote possibility of having to take my daughter shopping for her first pair of anti-rape panties.
I refuse to accept that as our future. I refuse to sit back and let my daughter be torn down by the celebrities that our society worships. I refuse to let society teach my sons that girls are here for their enjoyment.
And so, to “J-lo”, and Iggy, and Beyonce, and Miley, and Niki and so many others I have one thing to say: I hope you will never be my daughter’s role model.
I hope that she is able to look at you with compassion, but also understand that what you are promoting is neither right nor good.
I hope that she realizes that she is is an actual person who is glorious and amazing just the way she is.
I hope that she will understand that she can do and be anything she wants, that her dreams and desires can come true.
I hope that she realizes that a man who really has the potential to love her will respect her, not pressure her; he will show her kindness, not indecency; and he will only expect the same in return.
And above all I hope that she will ignore those who tell her otherwise. Even if they say it with a catchy beat.