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Hard out here for who?

Fdaniel's picture

Lilly Allen’s new music video Hard Out Here has gotten a lot of buzz in the media. After watching the video very closely and then reading the lyrics I’ve been debating with myself whether or not this video is feminist or not. The message that Lilly is trying to give off in the video is extremely powerful. She is encouraging women to be independent and get through barriers that are set in front of them solely because of their gender. She’s also touching on the double standard presented to in society.   All those points she’s tying to touch on are powerful but who is she speaking for? As she states in the beginning of the video “Don't need to shake my ass for you/cause I’ve got a brain” but she has 5-8 other women shaking their ass and touching their crotch. They’re all half naked while she’s fully clothed. She’s continually referring to women as “bitchs” in her video. We can’t possibly expect men to treat us any differently if we are treating ourselves this way. How can one combat this negative stereotype about women being objects if in the video women are objects. Did she really need to zoom into the butts and show women hyper sexualized to prove a point? Have we gotten this bad in society that we now need to have women half naked to listen? This video doesn't just make me question the white supremacy but feminism it self. Who is feminism fighting for? White women? Women of color? Both? 

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shainarobin's picture

It's hard out here for white feminists

I've been thinking about the impacts of this music video as well. I'm torn because I like the idea that a new piece of work in the music industry is shaking things up. However, I also find it troubling that Allen's back up dancers, most of whom appear to be black women of color, are objectified throughout the entire video. This objectification is impossible to escape as viewers are subjected to close-up and exaggerated shots of an African American woman's butt as she twerks, to name just one example. I do believe that Allen was genuine when she stated in a disclamer that she was colorblind when choosing the dancers for her video and that she chose them based on ability. However, her ignorance when it comes to the objectification of black women through twerking and by white people (including women) while they are promoting their own rights, reminds me of the bell hooks reading we discussed recently. In her writing, hooks talks about a history of feminism that has mainstreamed white feminists fighting to be equal with men at the cost of opressing women of color. Instead of fighting sexism, many of these women unintentionally became sexist themselves. I fear this is what has happened to Allen. It's a shame that Allen's attempt at "encouraging women to be independent and get through barriers that are set in front of them solely because of their gender" is pretty much ruined (at least for viewers like me) because of her neglectful attitude towards intersectional feminism. Like you Faith, I find Allen's internalization of the word "bitch(es)" to be bordeline, as well as the juxtaposition of her body to those of her backup dancers. And though I can find excuses for both, for example Allen has stated that she's covered up in the music video due to body insecurity, her exclusion of feminists of color is harder for me to get past. I have been a fan of Allen's and supported her as an artist for many years now. I hope that both the backlash and acclaim that her song and video have garnered can become learning experiences for both her and her viewers.