"We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are."
- Anais Nin
Tuesday, October 7, 2014
"If you’re having girl problems, I feel bad for you, son. I got 99 problems but a bitch ain’t one." - Jay Z, 99 Problems
Beyonce is one of the most powerful, successful women in the world. She could arguably wear the pants in any household. Except for one problem.
She hasn’t got any.
Seriously. Who took Beyonce’s pants? Her hubby Jay Z, maybe?
A couple of months ago, I saw this video, in which a thoughtful young woman named Madiha Bhatti calls out Jay Z and others in the music industry for their dehumanization of women.
Sure, the objectification of women in the entertainment industry is certainly nothing new, but I couldn’t help but think recently that it seems to be getting worse - and some female artists seem compelled to participate in their own degradation. Queen Bey and her ever-missing pants is actually a mild example. And though Miley Cyrus seems to have taken a wrecking ball to her life (you see what I did there? clever, huh?), I kinda feel grateful for the awesome Steve Kardynal parody that resulted. But then there was the recent video for the song Booty, featuring Jennifer Lopez and Iggy Azalea. They abandon all pretense of being serious artists and simply grind, slap, twerk and rub up against each other like porn stars. (No, I won’t link to it here. I still want to bleach my eyeballs.)
Look, I’m no prude. You may recall my recent defense of nude pics. I think sex is one of the coolest things about life on this planet, and I understand sexual expression invariably gets messy. But there’s nothing sexy about objectifying or degrading women.
And lest it seem this is a racial, cultural or genre issue, check out this video by country music duo Maddie & Tae. It seems these country girls grew tired of Daisy Dukes, bare feet and bikini tops. A little bit of role reversal goes a long way toward making a point, hilariously.
I’m not condemning anyone. I like Beyonce. (Really - who doesn't like Beyonce?) I myself have been known, on occasion, to be foul-mouthed, sexually inappropriate, and lacking pants. My own son jokes that my novels are porn. I’m sure I’ve rubbed a person or two the wrong way - if you’ll pardon the pun. But as women gain more power and prominence in society, I’d like to see more discussion about the backlash. And that’s exactly what I think is going on in some corners of the music industry. It’s not about sex. It’s about taking women down a peg.
That’s not OK.
We all begin forming our opinion about gender and our place in the world from Day One. I wonder how Jay Z and Beyonce would like their daughter to see the world and understand her place in it. I wonder if they would like to see Blue Ivy with a man who raps, “I’ve got 99 problems but a bitch ain’t one?”