There Are Far Worse Words in the World Than “Fuck”.

Yesterday a video of girls dressed as princesses saying the word “fuck” went viral. While the apparent point of the video was to spread awareness of the inequalities and atrocities women and girls face in the world, it was actually made by for-profit t-shirt company FCKH8 who would donate $5 from each t-shirt sold to unspecified charities (presumably charities benefiting women). Capitalism aside, the video begs the question, what’s worse: little girls swearing or facing the likelihood that they’ll be raped or paid less than the men doing the same job?

If popular opinion is any indication it’s the former.

I was just thinking about this a few days ago. Why do we have to “watch our language” around elders or in professional settings when the same respect isn’t shown when it comes to sexism, racism and just generally being a decent person?

I swear “like a sailor” and have since I was the age of the girls in the video and even younger. At a third birthday party I yelled “fuck” while the guests were singing happy birthday. I got kicked out of kindergarten for swearing. My colleagues devised a swear jar to be mostly filled up by me. (I’ve never put a cent in it.)

What I want to know, though, is where’s the “problematic ideologies jar” that the same people who are offended by a word that has essentially lost all meaning other than to punctuate something or as a less formal way to say “make love” should be making deposits into? The same people who are offended by my refusal to burp under my breath or curb my fondness for the f-word but bang on about women who get raped shouldn’t get so drunk or go out with so little clothing, calling Adam Goodes a monkey isn’t racism because he does look like a monkey, when a man cheats on his wife it’s the other woman’s responsibility, and girls being inherently catty and bitchy.

Why should I have to watch what I say less an f-word pop out when people will freely volunteer that they think being gay is wrong, or that it’s not wrong, but at the very least it should be harder for them to have children as they “chose” that lifestyle.

What it comes down to is that women and girls should be seen and not heard. We don’t want little girls to say “bad” words because it offends the collective sensibility. We don’t want to know that women are more likely to face gender-based violence as long as they sit there, shut up and look pretty. The made-up princess aesthetic of the video is certainly fulfilling that aspect, but once the girls open their mouths they’re shamed for saying something that we’d rather not think about. Nay, saying anything.

It could be said that FCKH8 is only interested in making a profit from the t-shirts this video aims to sell. That may be the case but they have certainly got people talking. Just as the company has co-opted feminism for their own purposes feminism can appropriate their money-making ways in an effort to change the attitudes of the same people that are oh-so-offended by an f-bomb but are happy to espouse even more harmful ideologies.

Elsewhere: [The Belle Jar] FCKH8 Exploits Little Girls in Order to Sell T-Shirts.

Katy Perry & Cultural Ignorance.

Katy Perry is pretty well known for her cultural insensitivity. When she’s not spurting whipped cream from her breasts in a Teenage Dream, she’s appropriating Asian, black and Middle Eastern culture, and the video for her latest single, “This is How We Do”, is no exception.

In a candy coloured world so similar to much of Perry’s other work, “This is How We Do” features cornrows, baby hair, bleached eyebrows, watermelons, “Japanese-y” manicures, “big hoops, maroon lips” and “throw[ing] up peace signs and cock[ing] her neck in a bubblegum version of chucking the deuces”, as Jezebel puts it, all of which are not necessarily positively associated with the abovementioned races in one way or another.

When asked in a recent Rolling Stone cover story about her penchant for cultural appropriation, Perry feigned indignation at being left behind in a political correct era. She responded thusly:

“I guess I’ll just stick to baseball and hot dogs, and that’s it… I know that’s a quote that’s gonna come to fuck me in the ass, but can’t you appreciate a culture? I guess, like, everybody has to stay in their lane? I don’t know.”

Perry hasn’t managed to “stay in her own lane” when it comes to her Prismatic world tour. For her performance of “I Kissed a Girl” she surrounds herself with big-bootied, big-lipped and dark-haired mummies in what looks like a half-assed homage to Lily Allen’s “Hard Out Here” or Miley Cyrus. Perry says, “As far as the mummy thing, I based it on plastic surgery… Look at someone like Kim Kardashian or Ice-T’s wife, Coco. Those girls aren’t African-American. But it’s actually a representation of our culture wanting to be plastic, and that’s why there’s bandages and it’s mummies. I thought that would really correlate well together… It came from an honest place. If there was any inkling of anything bad, then it wouldn’t be there, because I’m very sensitive to people.”

Because if something comes from an honest place, it can’t possibly be racist, right? (Not to mention the fact that whether or not the white privileged lady thinks something she did wasn’t offensive is irrelevant.)

Recently I pointed out on a friend’s Facebook comment thread that an exchange about Khloe Kardashian and her ex-husband, Lamar Odom, could be construed as racist. There was some back and forth about how that wasn’t the intention, but in the end the defence was very Perry-esque in nature. Cultural ignorance shouldn’t be an excuse for cultural insensitivity.

To use an example I heard spewed from the mouth of a colleague, just because you personally think Indigenous footballer Adam Goodes looks like a monkey, doesn’t mean the young fan who called him this at a game was right in doing so. Sometimes the harmful trajectory of terminology—that black people were compared to monkeys and thought of as less than human throughout history—is more important than freedom of expression.

As Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in a recent interview with Katie Couric (which you can watch here), “You can exercise your right to free speech until it is affecting other people”.

While Perry’s at her cultural appropriation game, maybe she can take a page out of Notorious RBG’s book…?

Related: Whipped Cream Feminism—The Underlying Message in Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” Video.

Is Gwen Stefani Racist?

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Katy Perry Almost Managed to Make an Inoffensive Video.

[Rolling Stone]The Unbreakable Katy Perry: Inside Rolling Stone’s New Issue.

[Jezebel] Why Do Katy Perry’s Dancers Have Fake Butts and Big Earrings?

[Jezebel] Yikes: Clothing Company Pairs Black Child’s Face with Monkey Body.

[Yahoo!] Katie Couric Interviews Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

[Notorious RBG] Homepage.

Robin Thicke’s “Paula”: He Still Hates Those “Blurred Lines”.

Robin Thicke, along with Pharrell and T.I., came out with arguably 2013’s most controversial song, “Blurred Lines”, about this time last year.

Now the son of Growing Pains actor Alan Thicke is back with a whole new album about his estranged wife, Paula Patton, entitled simply, Paula.

Thicke was caught with his hand on a female fan’s bottom and allegedly followed this up by cheating on his high-school sweetheart Patton, with whom he’d been involved for 21 years and has a son. The unflappable Patton seemed to take the split in her stride, at least compared to Thicke, who’s taken to social media and radio waves in an attempt to win his former ladylove back.

The fact that his forthcoming album’s tracklist consists entirely of breakup-and-makeup songs is supposed to be romantic, but to the discerning eye, Thicke’s predation that was front and centre in “Blurred Lines” has come to the fore yet again.

Not only does his public begging read as more desperate than romantic, it publicly shames the other party who’s chosen to deal with the dissolution of their marriage in private.

But we all know Thicke’s favourite pastime is to “degrade a woman” and that’s exactly what he’s doing with this ill thought out album. For some perspective, the titular woman filed for divorce from Thicke in February this year, and the album’s first single, “Get Her Back” was released in May, giving Paula a lead-time of three months. And it has only been a year since Thicke’s previous album, Blurred Lines, featuring the rape anthem of the same name, came out.

The actual Marvin Gaye medleys that Thicke has become so well known—and taken to court—for and that make up Paula aren’t the worst in the world, but it’s when listeners pay mind to Thicke’s lyrics that the album really starts to run into trouble. The calypso rhythm of “You’re My Fantasy”, for example, can’t rescue it from this little ditty: “Your legs on my walls/Your body’s on my ceiling”; while Thicke makes reference to the cheating rumours on the Motown-y “Black Tar Cloud”, crooning “I thought everyone was gonna eat the chips/Turns out I’m the only one who double dipped”. (Thanks for that visual.) The mumbly “Forever Love” is luckily accompanied by a lyric video because Thicke’s enunciation is so poor it’s hard to sing along like the 14-year-old sung along in Patton’s ear to Stevie Wonder’s “Jungle Fever” upon their first meeting as teens in early ’90s Los Angeles.

“Get Her Back”, the earwormy lead single is arguably the album’s only redeeming one however its problematic video, featuring scrolling text messages that we’re to believe were sent between Thicke and Patton atop close-up shots of a fake-bloodied and allegedly crying Thicke being groped by masked women who look marginally like Patton before they plunge head-first into cavities of water, references intimate partner violence, like much of the album.

Thicke carried out a thick (so to speak) and fast social media campaign for Paula, including the hashtags #GetHerBack and #AskThicke, which ultimately backfired in a flurry of negative feminist press. Thicke even went so far as to engage in a cross-promotion with 1800-Flowers, for which the “Get Her Back” bouquet will set you back a cool $350—but it comes with a free digital download of Paula, so you’re actually saving money. But it would seem that many music consumers are holding on to their pennies this time around: just 530 fans in the UK and a dismal 54 in Australia forked out for Paula.

Thicke might not be a one-hit wonder (remember his 2002 debut, the equally as rapey as “Blurred Lines”, come to think of it, “When I Get You Alone”?), he proves that perhaps sex was the only thing that sold “Blurred Lines”.

The Hollywood that Thicke grew up in would have us believe that male persistence is the way to a girl’s heart: “the boy keeps trying to get the girl until she says yes,” writes Jessica Valenti for The Guardian. “You need to look no further than the outrageously popular Twilight series—books and movies—to know that the stalker-as-romantic lead looms large in our cultural imagination.” Real life headlines about intimate partner violence suggest that stalking is more deadly than romantic.

Further to that, Alyssa Rosenberg writes over at The Washington Post that “the simple fact of male persistence ought to be enough to bring a woman around to loving him”, while Clem Bastow asserted on Daily Life that Thicke’s quest to “Get Her Back” is “about the feelings of the man in question, not the woman he is searching for or seeking to reconcile with”.

But that’s Thicke’s pattern (pardon the pun); he’s crafting a pop cultural narrative where he’s the ultimate NiceGuy™ and if Patton continues to reject him she’s a cold-hearted bitch. And if Thicke was hoping for a deluge of sales to help him convince Patton to take him back, he’s sorely underestimated the public’s keen nose for desperation.

Elsewhere: [HuffPo] Robin Thicke Cheated on His Wife, Claims Socialite Lana Scolaro.

[HuffPo] Marvin Gaye’s Family & Robin Thicke’s Label Settle in “Blurred Lines” Dispute.

[Time] Robin Thicke’s #AskThicke Hashtag Completely Backfired.

[1800-Flowers] Robin Thicke Flowers & Music Download.

[Vulture] Which Country Hates Robin Thicke the Most?

[The Guardian] Robin Thicke’s Video: Further Evidence That We’re Romancing the Stalker-Esque.

[WaPo] The Real Problem with Robin Thicke’s Creepy Attempts to Win His Wife Back? They’re Boring.

[Daily Life] The False Romance of “Winning Her Back”.

TV: Has Smash Jumped the Shark with This Bollywood Number?

My reaction to the above scene is equal parts cringe and intrigue. While it could be seen to be pushing the boundaries, and it does tie in with Dev’s Indian heritage and movie star Rebecca Duvall’s racial ignorance, it could also very well be the moment when Smash jumped the shark. What do you think?

Related: The Problem with Smash.

Naomi Wolf on Katy Perry’s “Part of Me” Video—Shameful, Glorifies Violence.

In the wake of Katy Perry’s breakup anthem, “Part of Me”, Naomi Wolf had this to say on her Facebook page:

“Have you all seen the Katy Perry Marines video? It is a total piece of propaganda for the Marines… I really want to find out if she was paid by them for making it… It is truly shameful. I would suggest a boycott of this singer whom I really liked—if you are as offended at this glorification of violence as I am.”

Firstly, where was Wolf when “California Gurls” came out?

Secondly, while I think calling Perry’s video “shameful” is a bit unnecessary, and there are plenty of other issues Wolf could use her feminist voice to speak out against, she’s not entirely wrong when she says it looks like Perry’s been paid by the Marines to endorse them.

I somewhat enjoyed the film clip and can appreciate its tokenistic message of girl power, but at the beginning when Perry’s in the service station and sees the bumper sticker on the noticeboard for the Marines, I have to agree with Wolf that it does look like a four minute musical advertorial for the armed services. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with this, but if the aim is to glorify war then that’s another story.

What do you think?

Related: Whipped Cream Feminism: The Underlying Message in Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” Video.

Elsewhere: [Facebook] Naomi Wolf.

Music: Top 11 Songs of 2011.

“Born This Way”, Lady Gaga.

Before it was even released, the world knew that “Born This Way” was going to define 2011, if not for its controversial comparison to Madonna’s “Express Yourself”, then for Glee’s 90-minute special dedicated to the anthem. Gaga was accused of racism and plagiarism for the song, which spawned a website in which gay users can upload images and affirmations. Like it or loath it, you’ve got to agree that Gaga has her heart in the right place with this one.

“Friday”, Rebecca Black.

Ahh, the song that you can never get out of your head. While I think “Friday” is the work of a genius (Lady Gaga thinks so, too!) and enjoy bopping around to it, grabbing my bowl, grabbing my cereal, going to the bus stop, choosing which seat to take, I understand that the majority of the world doesn’t feel the same. But for a viral video, you’ve got to give the girl props for permeating the zeitgeist so.

“Rolling in the Deep”, Adele.

I’ve only recently gotten into Adele, but now that I have, I could listen to her voice for hours. Whether it’s “Someone I Used to Know”, “Turning Tables” or “I Can’t Make You Love Me”, as opposed to “Rolling in the Deep”, you can’t deny that Adele was everywhere in 2011. And she was warmly welcomed for her heartbreaking love songs and her alternative look.

“Party Rock Anthem”, LMFAO.

Up until a few days ago when I asked my friend April which songs she thought I should include in this list, I thought this song was called “Shuffling”! No matter; the whole world has picked up on the gist and beat of the song, and that’s all that really matters, right?

“Moves Like Jagger”, Maroon 5.

Another song that I was oblivious to until recently. Rather, I was oblivious to who sung it, even though the vocals of Christina Aguilera were unmissable. My awakening to “Moves Like Jagger” came the night of my birthday party, when a random partygoer likened my moves to being even better than Jagger’s!

“Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)”, Katy Perry.

The song is somewhat forgettable, but Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night” was all about the film clip, featuring the aforementioned Rebecca Black, some guys from Glee, Hanson, and Kenny G.

“(Run the World) Girls”, Beyonce.

While “(Run the World) Girls” isn’t by a long shot the best song on Beyonce’s latest album, 4, it was the one that set the ball rolling for total 2011 Beyonce domination. For my money, “Countdown” and “Best Thing I Never Had” are better, but the controversy the song stirred up and the film clip are what make the song rate.

“Somebody I Used to Know”, Gotye.

Until I YouTubed this song just then, I’d never heard it before. But I’d heard the hype surrounding it. While alternative Australian music isn’t really my cup of tea, it does invoke a certain nostalgia of music my parents would play when I was a child, like Cat Stevens and some others I can’t quite put my finger on.

“Super Bass”, Nicki Minaj.

If it weren’t for the Ellen show sensations Sophia Grace and Rosie, “Super Bass” wouldn’t hold such a special spot in my heart(beat running away)! Is that wrong…?

“On the Floor”, Jennifer Lopez.

This time last year J.Lo couldn’t have been less relevant. Whether it’s the calibre of “On the Floor” (one friend is particularly irked by the “Back it up like a Tonka truck” line from Pit Bull!) or her highly publicised divorce from Marc Anthony (how fitting that the title of her latest album should be Love?), J.Lo was back in a big way in 2011.

“We Found Love”, Rihanna.

Rihanna also had a big 2011, and it was hard to choose just one of her myriad of songs from the past year. I have a penchant for “Only Girl in the World”, which was officially released in 2010 but seemed to transfer over into 2011, and there’s also “Man Down”, “S&M”, “California King Bed” and “Cheers (Drink to That)” that were hits last year. And of course, we can’t forget the hullabaloo that resulted from the filming of the video for “We Found Love”. Farmers and Irish fields, anyone?

So which were your favourite songs of 2011?

Related: The Underlying Message in Glee‘s “Born This Way” Episode.

Battle of the Friday Anthems: Rebecca Black VS. Katy Perry.

Beyonce: Countdown to Overexposure.

Rihanna’s Man Down—Revenge is a Dish Best Served in Cold Blood.

Rihanna’s “S&M”: Is It Really So Much Worse Than Her Other Stuff?

Beyonce—Countdown to Overexposure.

I love me a bit of Beyonce every now and then, but this has got to stop!

Ever since she announced her pregnancy at the MTV VMAs in August, there’s been talk of a black woman “doing it the right way”, being “sexy and pregnant” and, of course, whether Bey’s bump is even real!

Seriously, when the world starts speculating that the most anticipated celebrity offspring of the year isn’t being carried by the female half of said celebrity couple, I think it means they’ve officially reached overexposure status. This is even worse than the film clip that spawned a thousand spoofs (“Single Ladies [Put a Ring on It]”) and that whole Taylor Swift-Kanye West debacle.

However, when her latest video was released for “Countdown”, I have to say I did like it. I thought it harkened back to Beyonce’s video for “Why Don’t You Love Me?”, with some Audrey Hepburn, ’60s-esque looks thrown in there, too. But, just like the response to Bey’s performance of “Run the World (Girls)” at the Billboard Awards, the copycat allegations ran thick and fast. She’s like the new Lady Gaga!

What do you think of Beyonce? Still love her or couldn’t care less?

Related: Did Rosie the Riveter Wear Hotpants?

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Beyonce’s Pregnancy & the Debate Over Black Women “Doing it the Right Way”.

[Jezebel] Pregnance Plots Maternity Clothing Line.

[Jezebel] The Bizarre & Burgeoning Fixation with Fake Baby Bumps.

[Jezebel] Beyonce Accused of Copycat Choreography (Again!).

[MTV] Beyonce’s “Countdown” Video: A Pop-Culture Cheat Sheet.

[Buzzfeed] Beyonce Ripped Off Her Amazing Billboard Music Awards Performance.

Battle of the Friday Anthems: Rebecca Black VS. Katy Perry.

Black’s preternatural “Friday” has been removed from YouTube due to copyright reasons, so it looks like we’ll just have to get our fix of the so-bad-she’s-good teenager in “Last Friday Night (TGIF)”, in which she makes a cameo, along with Glee’s Darren Criss and Kevin McHale, Kenny G as Uncle Kenny, the Hanson brothers, and Corey Feldman and Debbie Gibson as Kathy Beth Terry’s parents!

So it turns out it’s not a battle of the Fridays, but a joining of the day before the weekend that everybody’s looking forward to (or however the ditty goes!) forces!

TGIF!

Related: Who’s the Copycat Now, Katy Perry?

Whipped Cream Feminism: The Underlying Message in Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” Video.

Katy P. VS. Lady G.

Images via YouTube.

Guest Post: Rihanna’s “Man Down”—Revenge is a Dish Best Served in Cold Blood.

All who know me, know that I love to dance. Put on a song with a good beat that is repeatedly played on a commercial radio station and I am one of the first on the dancefloor. I really enjoyed Rihanna’s earlier work (“Umbrella” and “Please Don’t Stop the Music” come to mind), but her endeavour of recent into an edgier, (dare I say?) overly-sexualised style is worrisome to me.

Let me state that Rihanna, whether she wishes to be or not, is a role model. Anyone who graces the cover of a gossip magazine or whose songs are played on child-friendly radio stations are role models, and should be aware of it. Paparazzi and gossip mags have been around for a long time now and anyone who ventures into the world of Hollywood or reaches household name-status, must be aware that every inch of their life will be scrutinised by the critics and idolised by the young. So when Rihanna comes out with songs such as “S&M” and “California King Bed”, she is exploiting her body and over-exposing the young to sexuality and sending bad messages.

A recent discussion with Scarlett brought Ri-Ri’s newest clip, “Man Down”, and un-role model-like behaviour, to my attention. Scarlett described the clip to me by stating that it related to Rihanna being raped and then her seeking justice by killing him. I was also aware that the clip begins with her hiding, watching him, shooting him then flashing back to the previous day and to a scene that implies rape.

While this is a brief description of the clip, and I have since watched it and read the lyrics, I am outraged that Rihanna would openly promote such revenge. Yes, rapists should be brought to justice, but there is a legal system put in place to deal with such criminals*. Removing the idea of rape from the equation, Ri-Ri is advocating vengeance, which is not appropriate behaviour to uphold with young and impressionable fans watching on.

“An eye for eye”, “two wrongs make a right’” and “tit for tat”, should not be taught to children. Revenge is an notion of “equality of suffering”, forcing pain and anguish on someone to the same, if not greater, extent than one originally experienced. It is not a virtuous quality to have and should not be treated as such.

As a role model, Rihanna should be promoting good qualities to have: heart, faith, strong will. Rather than glamorise payback, she should advocate loving thy neighbour. Revenge is a way of saying you are not secure in your ability to grow, and learn from life’s hardships.

Yet Rihanna repeatedly conducts inappropriate behaviour for her fans to idolise. Sure, many stars are in a similar boat in that they bare their naked bodies for camera phones, stumble intoxicated out of clubs and adhere to dangerous diets, but the meaning in Rhianna’s songs is just as damaging to those easily influenced: her young fans.

*I do not wish to belittle the intense agony and disgust one must feel after they have been raped. I am lucky to never have been in this situation and hope I never am, but I can only imagine that your thoughts are not clear, you are incredibly distraught, and the death of your attacker might seem like the only answer.

—Katie Blush.

Related: “Chains & Whips Excite Me”, Take 2.

“Chains & Whips Excite Me…”: The Underlying Message in Music Videos.

Rihanna’s “S&M”: Is it Really So Much Worse Than Her Other Stuff?

Picture Perfect.

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Rihanna Shoots Her Rapist in Her New Video.

[Fox News] Rihanna’s Murder of Rapist in “Man Down” Video: Empowering or Dangerous?

Images via YouTube.

“Chains & Whips Excite Me” Take 2.

So I’ve already blogged (and reblogged) multiple times about Rihanna’s “S&M”, but the other night my friend attempted to make this joke about it:

“So if whips and chains excite Rihanna, is what Chris Brown did to her just foreplay?”

Obviously the remnants of some sick Facebook joke, but worryingly, I believe this is what some people actually think.

As I wrote originally, “the video does deal with sexual violence… which Rihanna is no stranger to, but this time around it’s consensual violence.

Jezebel explains:

“‘It’s notable, though, following her assault by Chris Brown, that in the video for “S&M,” she’s interested in exploring consensual acts of violence and aggression, and finding pleasure in pain. Although she does appear bound in the video (as well as literally restrained by the media), mostly she plays the role of a dominant, perhaps to prove (or remind us) that she’s the one in control. Is this the desire of one who’s been called a victim? To recast oneself as authoritative and commanding?’”

She also speaks of the Brown incident in Rolling Stone:

“I put my guard up so hard… I didn’t want people to see me cry. I didn’t want people to feel bad for me. It was a very vulnerable time in my life, and I refused to let that be the image. I wanted them to see me as, ‘I’m fine, I’m tough.’ I put that up until it felt real.”

And her real-life love of S&M:

“Being submissive in the bedroom is really fun… You get to be a little lady, to have somebody be macho and in charge of your shit. That’s fun to me…I like to be spanked. Being tied up is fun. I like to keep it spontaneous. Sometimes whips and chains can be overly planned—you gotta stop, get the whip from the drawer downstairs. I’d rather have him use his hands.”

Admittedly, I do think it is a tad odd that sadomasochism seems to be dominating her current public persona but, as above, it’s consensual sadomasochism. Rihanna is well within her rights to take back the power Brown took from her by assaulting her, and this just seems to be the way she wants to do it.

And no matter how a woman acts, it is never a reason to hit her.

Related: “Chains & Whips Excite Me…”: The Underlying Message in Music Videos.

Rihanna’s “S&M”: Is It Really So Much Worse Than Her Other Stuff?

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Rihanna’s New Video Celebrates Ball-Gags, Whips & Latex.

[Rolling Stone] Rihanna Opens Up Like Never Before in Rolling Stone Cover Story.

Images via YouTube.