Rihanna’s Man Down

Watch this vid.

Then go read this by the Crunk Feminist Collective, a sample:

Earlier this week, Rihanna released the video for her song “Man Down” in which her character struggles with the choice to kill her rapist. In Hip Hop and pop culture where rape is glorified and celebrated, this is a welcome intervention. The video reinforces a very basic point: the choice to be sexual and sensual on the dance floor should not be read in any way as consent for future sexual activity. For once, the critique of rape is unambiguous. It is wrong; it is not the woman’s fault; and it should be punished.

signal boost: Major Lazer: Cyborgs, Dancehall, Racism, & Colonization in Music

You should definitely check out Bianca Laureano’s article, Major Lazer: Cyborgs, Dancehall, Racism, & Colonization in Music. She discusses how music made by people of culture, music culture made for and by people of color, has become something to be appropriated for popular (usually white) entertainment- and that it is they who assign a capitalist value to our work, and create a system that ensures them as the major beneficiaries. I see you Diplo. She uses the Major Lazer faux-credited Pon De Floor, a beat that’s become recently even more popular through Beyonce’s use of the track in her Run The World (Girls), and its video as the gateway to a very necessary conversation we all need to have.

After doing some searching I found the video for Major Lazer’s Pon De Floor. I was immediately excited because the dancing in the video was very much the kind of Dancehall I find fascinating, yet also complex as it is overly sexually graphic…I was excited about was that the women dancing were large bodied women. Some may even call them “fat dancers” yet for me their bodies were so much like my own it was as though I was watching myself dance…

My online searching led me to the shocking knowledge that Major Lazer  is a fictional Black cyborg created by two White men, Diplo  from Philidelphia (of M.I.A. fame), and Switch from the UK who specializes in “House” music…I realized that two White men created this image of Major Lazer, created the music, and then used Black and brown bodies in the videos…It’s 1 thing to have people of Color do the videos I love, and it’s another when White boys do it. Not that I love it any less (but I kinda do), but now it’s a different perspective with over-sexualized components.

At the end of the day I kind of feel duped, hoodwinked, bamboozled. I fell for imagery that was crafted by outsiders to represent something meaningful that I valued as an important part of my Caribbean identity. There are revolutionary aspects, yet there are so few in comparison to how many troubling aspects of the music, imagery and representations of Major Lazer…

I now understand that Major Lazer is a symbol, yet I’m unclear what it represents because I realize it does not represent me or the community I find myself a part of. I’d love to hear what those of you who either identify with any of the artists we mentioned her or who enjoy Major Lazer think. This is definitely me as an “outsider” to some extent but an “insider” in others. An interesting space to occupy.

It’s a fascinating article, you should definitely read in full.

Why Can’t We Really Run This? (Review of Beyoncé’s Run The World)

I see B’s still doing what she does best: trick me into liking a song then dropping two or three problematic lines that make me cringe and seriously question just why I’m still listening.

It starts off well enough (and I apologize for the missed lyrics).

Girls, we run this motha (yeah!) [x4]

GIRLS!

Who run the world? Girls! [x4]
Who run this motha? Girls! [x4]
Who run the world? Girls! [x4]

Crazy aggressive beat and lyrics that are both fierce statement and obvious answer, except for the “girls” part (which rubs me the way “geek girl” does), I’m dancing in my seat so far. We go straight into a verse that’s all swagger and no apologies.

Some of them men think they freak this like we do, But no they don’t.
Make your checks, come at they neck, Disrespect us no they won’t.

Boy don’t even try to touch this, Boy this beat is crazy,
This is how they made me, Houston Texas baby.

This goes out to all my girls, That’s in the club rocking the latest,
Who will buy it for themselves and get more money later.

I’m loving it. Then…cringe #1:

I think I need a barber, None of these hoes can fade me.
I’m so good with this, I remind you I’m so hood with this.

I ask, in a song that’s supposed to be all about solidarity, was it really necessary to say “None of these hoes can fade me”, wordplay aside? Really, really?

Cringe #2-100 comes along right after:

Boy I’m just playing, come here baby,
Hope you still like me, If you [not sure what this word was] me

I’m sighing now, because exactly what this song didn’t need is her saying “I’m just playing”, and especially not to say it to a guy. B plays that line well, aggressive but not too aggressive, it is practically her business model. But what is so damn wrong about an aggressive woman? Are heterosexual men really that insecure, so much so that a woman saying “I run this” about her life is so threatening that B had to drop the hard base line and croon at the dude. I get that women are complex, we’re not just one way or the other, but in a song with the title “Run The World”, I want lyrics that step to a baseline and work it out, a la “Diva”, whether or not I’m addressing a guy.

She drops a bit that sort of reclaims the verse:

My persuasion, can build a nation.
Endless power, with our love we can devour.

You’ll do anything for me.

Swagger comes right back in the next verse and I’m smiling again:

It’s hot up in here, DJ don’t be scared to run this, run this back!
I’m repping for the girls who taking over the world, Help me raise a glass for the college grads.

[41?] rollie to let you know what time it is… Check.
You can’t hold me I wrote my 9 to 5 better cut my check.

This goes out to all the women getting it in, you on your grind,
To other men that respect what I do, Please accept my shine

And then it gets shaky again:

Boy you know you love it, How we’re smart enough to make these millions,
Strong enough to bear the children… Then get back to business.

Not that there’s anything wrong with the biological ability to give birth, just that placed in the context of explaining to a guy exactly why he really shouldn’t be threatened by all this power, it’s a bit uncomfortable. Then again I guess you could read it as, women are strong enough to deal with whatever (because giving birth is not a cakewalk).

She goes on to end the song with more chants of  “We run the world!” finishing it all out with a final chant of “Who run the world? Girls.”

The result, well I’m not sure.

Okay B, I really want to love this song, because I’m all for a woman getting hers, and doing it all with a significant amount of talent backing her (not to mention a badass beat). More than that, I want to be able to go through your songs without picking and choosing lyrics! I want to be able to run through songs like this and “Upgrade U” without having to deal with lyrics like “Still play my part and let you take the lead role believe me/I’ll follow, this could be easy” which instead of cutting through the trophy wife stereotype they try to subvert, only enforces it.

I’m holding out for you, B. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be over here replaying “Diva”.

#FeministFriday Week-End Linkspam

I’ve been reading:

All links archived at theramblingfeminist@delicious!

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