Tag Archives: twerking

YES YOU CAN: Twerk and Have a Brain

15 Nov

LILY ALLEN2“It’s hard out here for a bitch,” says British so-called feminist singer Lily Allen in her latest song, “It’s Hard Out Here.” The video is satirical and supposed to critique the music industry’s expectations of women. Yet in the process, Allen upholds oppressive views of black sexuality.

Allen sings, “Inequality promises that it’s here to stay.”

Yes it does, Lily Allen, because you’re promoting it.

So welcome to this week’s episode of “How Not to be a Feminist,” starring Lily Allen.

She sings about how women in the industry are objectified—and then she turns right around and objectifies the backup dancers, who are mostly black women.

The message is clear: It’s not okay to objectify women, unless they’re women of color.

In the video, Allen is fully clothed doing a few dance moves here and there (but mostly just standing around), surrounded by half-naked black women twerking as if their lives depended on it. Allen stands out from the dancing women in her clothes and minimal dance moves as if she I somehow better than them. These scenes all happen right after she says, “Don’t need to shake my ass for you cause I’ve got a brain.”

Allen would like us all to know that she has a brain—and the women shaking their asses for her video…well… I guess they don’t get to decide if they’re intelligent or not because Lily Allen did it for them.

When did shaking your ass become synonymous with being unintelligent? There are plenty of smart women who dance provocatively when they want to and then study their asses off or go to their meaningful careers the next day.

One person tweeted in response, “I shake my ass in front of my degree every morning. Then I shake my ass at my desk at work–senior front-end developer, thanks.”

When I find myself at a party, club, or in front of a mirror when no one’s looking, I’ll shake my ass too. Hey Lily, look…I have a brain too.

The video is a classic case of satire gone very wrong. Instead of correcting the industry, Allen added herself to the list of white woman artists that dehumanize black women. It was as if Miley Cyrus (swear I won’t use her name any more) dressed up as a feminist for Halloween—but underneath the costume is the same ignorance and oppression.

If anything, Allen’s video proved one thing—it’s harder out here for some women than others (something women of color have proved time and time again). Allen and her white singer counterparts aren’t demonized for their sexuality in the same way black women are. It’s assumed that Lily is a person, while the dancers aren’t even considered to be fully human. As Mia McKenzie from Black Girl Dangerous explains it, the video cuts away at the bodies of black women as if they are parts and pieces, instead of full human beings. The video lifts up women of a certain complexion while oppresses those of another. That’s the same kind of privileged fake feminism I talked about in last week’s post.

Lesson learned: Check you’re feminism, or others surely will.

Welp, guess it’s back to listening to Janelle Monae.

Related Posts: Feminism Gets a Bad Facelift

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3 Things Someone Should Tell Miley Cyrus

18 Jun


Miley 2.0, Take A Seat

Lately people have been buzzing about how Miley Cyrus twerked on stage at a Juicy J concert and about her latest song produced by Mike Will Made It. At first, I was upset that she received so much attention. I saw news anchors on television discussing her twerking, and I thought, “Why the F is this news?” So I was hesitant to write this post. Yet, with all the comments about Milley 2.0 “trying to act black” and “being ratchet,” I felt the need to say something about her new tactic to increase the hype of her upcoming album.

Unlike many people who are quick to shame Miley Cyrus for her recent twerking obsession and her new sound, which claims that she is “bout that life,” I won’t go there. Let her twerk if she wants to—but don’t you dare applaud her for twerking and then turn around and criticize all the black women who twerk.

I have other issues with little Ms. Party in the USA.

1) Stop referring to hip hop and other music from black artists as “hood” music. In a recent interview with Billboard, she claimed that she loved “hood” music.

I think most of us know (but someone needs to let Miley know) that the majority of commercial hip hop sales are from suburban areas and that about 60% of those consumers are white.* Miley, sweetie, you aren’t special because you like Juicy J—you’re part of the 60%. But hey, maybe some of that 60% who bump fictitious “hood” music, yet haven’t gone beyond their white picket fences may pick up her album. Maybe Miley’s onto something.

2) Tread lightly and remember your privilege. The other day one of my sorors tweeted,

So when I twerk, I’m ratchet. But when Miley twerks she’s queen goddess of all unicorns!?”

She raises a major issue. Commenters on several blog sites said that Miley twerking was “cute” or “adorable.”

First of all… No. It wasn’t. Think about it—would it be adorable if it were Willow Smith or Gabby Douglas? Is it cute when Nicki Minaj twerks? No! Many people have internalized a double standard and would criticize young black women for being overly sexual.

Miley at Juicy J concert

Miley twerking at Juicy J concert

Blogger Necole Betchie wrote that Miley is “definitely carrying around a ‘ratchet’ card somewhere in her back pocket.” Yes, she may be carrying the card, but she can use or toss it as needed. Others don’t have that luxury. According to writer Sesali Bowen, many people (mainly black women) are labeled ratchet because of their poverty, clothing choices, and actions, and they cannot shake the label as easily. So be careful who you call ratchet.

3) Do what you do. Let Miley be Miley. Hanna Montana, Miley 2.0, rebel Disney star, whatever. If you don’t like her, don’t listen to her and don’t talk about her. That being said, I’m not going to say anything else about her. But I think it’s imperative that we think about and discuss double standards, white privilege, and what is acceptable for certain women to do but not others.

If you don’t feel like reading up on cultural appropriation, check out “White Privilege” by rapper Macklemore. His song is open and honest about how white musicians fit into black music.

*Stats from Rhythm and Business: The Political Economy of Black Music

Related Articles:

Sorority Girls Must Twerk: Cultural Demands on Black Women

Let’s Get Ratchet!: Check Your Privilege at the Door

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