Gender, Media

Hip Hop’s New Accidental Feminism

In Dane Cook’s first Comedy Central special (something I can quote from memory because I spent ages 12-18 watching 12-18 hours of comedy central) he has a joke about how men and women are different because men go to the clubs to find women to go home with and women go to clubs to just dance. “Let’s just dance! Just put our purses in a circle and dance!”

It’s a pretty boring joke from a boring comedian that seems cliched and shows a lack of understanding of the ability for people to defy their gender norms. It’s pretty age old and annoying to assume that all men are hunters and women are the hunted. We have to strive toward and for, while women need simply to show off their goods by dancing. They don’t want it. We want it and we must take it.

Recently we have some songs that accidentally mark the artists responsible as feminists.

Taio Cruz’s song Dynamite makes absolutely no mention of girls but talks exclusively about how great it is to go dancing with your boys.

“I came to dance-dance-dance-dance,
I hit the floor cause that’s my plans plans plans plans,
I’m wearing all my favorite brands brands brands brands,
Give me some space for both my hands hands hands hands.
Yeah, Yeah.”

He talks of dancing, dancing, wearing cute clothes, and dancing. This sounds like the female in the Dane Cook joke. There’s the Bechdel test – “(1) it has to have at least two women in it, who (2) who talk to each other, about (3) something besides a man” to determine if a movie is feminist (I also hate this test because it tends to imply that this is the only way a movie can be feminist, while talking about sex with a man about men can be feminist). In any case, it begs the question: Is a rap song feminist if it has a man talking about doing something in an environment that has women, but refuses to objectify women, or even bring them up? Well this passes the test.

I say accidental because watch the video. This is boring reminiscent of every late ’90s early ’00s rap video where women’s upper thighs and bare backs are constantly zoomed in on for no reason besides more jerk off fodder.

Also Usher has this lyric as the chorus of his new song: “Dance, Dance, Dance like it’s the last, last, last night of your life.”

On another but related note, Lil Wayne gives a woman agency. Despite the fact that we’ve given women sexual (and only sexual) agency in rap songs for a while, this is different. She not only can get what she wants with her pussy, but refuse what she wants with her pussy.

What does this say? It says we’re winning. The journey is obviously not over, but when people are accidentally doing things that are feminist, that means it is becoming a part of mainstream culture. When sexism isn’t cliche, but rather feminism is, then we’ve succeeded. I think the new passion fruit, sparkling, vodka wine that DJ Kahled is forcing into all of his videos is proof that gender roles are being busted up.

In my research for this article I’ve also discovered that Ne-yo is a drunk superhero who makes enemies with one eyed ninjas in white suits, and that is also pretty cool.


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