Have you ever had that dream where you’re walking down the street naked, and you suddenly realise you’re naked? Or that you’re in your old school, and you’re in front of all your old classmates and teachers, and you’re naked? Or that you’re in a shopping centre, and you’re naked? You get my drift. So, if you’ve had it, have you ever felt completely in control in that dream? Did you ever feel like you could acknowledge your nakedness, and own it? Did being naked in front of other people when you did not intend on being naked feel powerful?
The answer is, most likely, no. That dream is a common one, and whilst I’m not a fan of interperating every single thing about a dream as though it were an exact reflection of your sub-conscious, generally speaking, if you dream about being naked, it means you’re feeling vulnerable. Being naked can feel very powerful sometimes, but it’s almost never the case when you’re only being acknowledged for your nakedness. That’s because when you’re naked, and all the people around you are fully clothed, you don’t have the same standing they have. You’re not in control like they are. You’re completely exposed.
This is the problem with both Robin Thicke’s almighty fuck up of a video (which he didn’t think was sexist, lololololol), and Justin Timberlake’s latest release. The problem is not the naked women. Naked women’s bodies do not always have to be thought of as a form of pornography, as I mentioned in my last blog. But when women are represented in a way that is lacking in control, lacking in power, and they are represented in this way over and over again, it’s not good. It’s not good at all. And when other people stand up in public, on the blogosphere, on social media, or wherever they please and say;
“Erm, is that sexist? Is that a bit of sexism there? Those women, being represented as nothing more than sexual objects to fulfill the desires of men who are telling them, whilst fully clothed themselves that they “know you want it”; are they really being represented in a fair and equal way?”
They are shot down as “neo femenazis” who have an “agenda” and read into things too much, as a commenter on my last blog so kindly advised me. Well, no. It is sexist. Sorry, but it just is. Women in these videos are purely decorative. They’re there to be naked, dance, wobble (in just the right places) and lick their lips and look up at the fully clothed male singers from beneath their heavy eyelashes. They’re there to take instruction from the lyrics. We’re confusing the already difficult notion of gaining explicit consent with lyrics that liken women to domesticated animals and insinuate that a lack of consent makes the sex somehow sexier. Any power they have is purely sexual, it’s a power that exists only because of the desires of the male that’s singing. They have no explicit, independent power of their own. They’re submissive, vulnerable and useless.
There appears to be a lot of confusion around the issue, so let me clear some of that up.
This kind of imagery is sexist. It is beyond me how it is possible for me to need to explain how and why that is sexist. The sexism is about as obvious as Tom Selleck’s moustache. The women are being treated like demure, passive sex objects. That is not ok. Women are people too, with just as many layers to their sexuality as men. Their sexuality is not bound to the perkyness of their breasts, or the hairlessness of their skin. Their sexuality is just as much psychological as it is physical. Women do not deserve to be treated like vulnerable, petty sex objects for decorative purposes. Women do not deserve to be oogled as naked objects around fully clothed men. Women are also people and deserve to be treated as such.
If you are still confused, or still think that “neo-feminists” (You know, the silly modern kind of feminists who fight for women’s rights and stuff, lolololol) are “reading too much into it”, then I shudder to think how far pop culture is going to have to go for you to recognise sexism when you see it.