Thursday, September 10, 2015

Nicki Minaj, Taylor Swift, and does talking about having a big ass make you a feminist

I have so many thoughts in my mind right now I’m not even sure I can make this make sense.

To start, as soon as I hit “post” on my “9 female badass characters” post, I realized it was incredibly “white.” This is something I have become increasingly aware of as a writer and a woman. I’m not a big fan of race divides. I grew up in a family/town/lifestyle completely devoid of racism, and the idea of racism is alien to me. That said, I tend not to think about skin color. However, that does not make me immune to society’s influence and lack of diversity. When I posted my list of 9 female badass characters, I realized that 2 out of my 9 ladies were “diverse.” 3 if you count the fact that Aeryn Sunne is another race, but since she’s played by a white actress, I don’t think that counts.

This means that, even though I don’t care about race, I still identified primarily with the white characters, OR that they were the most prevalent in entertainment and media, and thus, came to mind first. Either way, it’s something to combat. For those of us who are not racist, it’s not enough to say, “well, I don’t care about race.” We need to do MORE than that. We need to promote diversity of all sorts, especially in the feminist movement, until all things are equal.

What brought this crisis to my mind, you ask? Oddly enough, the Video Music Awards. Weird, right? I didn’t watch them because a) I really don’t watch tv and b) I am really not a fan of “pop culture.” (Point in fact I read historical novels and write SF novels where I tend to mock pop culture and its influence.)

Either way, I was not immune to reading the reports of the VMAs afterward. (yay, internet and facebook!) I had several thoughts. A) Miley Cyrus had the worst outfits I’ve ever seen ;-) B) I didn’t 100% understand the controversy over why Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” video didn’t with the “Best Video of the Year” award. C) Or the twitter heat when Nicki found out her video was not nominated and she said “If your video celebrates women with very slim bodies, you will be nominated for vid of the year.”

So, being the intrepid explorer that I am, I watched all the nominated (and not) videos of the controversy.

I’m glad that Minaj is celebrating women with big butts in her "Anaconda" video. Hell, I’m a white girl and my most commented on body feature (for good or ill) had been my “healthy/muscular/athletic/any term you want” butt. That’s just how my body is formed and I have a muscular/well-rounded butt, and it has been commented on since I was a kid. It took a long time to realize that was okay. I’m glad to enjoy it as an adult and realize it makes me beautiful.

However, after listening to the song and watching Minaj’s “Anaconda” video, I was disappointed. There was no super awesome story/message or choreography. It was pretty much women shaking their butts, and the lyrics were like, “I like big butts, men like big butts, and f’ya’ll skinny bitches.”

Imo, that is in no way empowering for women or a positive body image/message. I was bummed that it wasn’t more empowering for women. I mean, so, I love my butt. But a video where the girl is crawling on her knees to a guy who just gets to sit back in a chair and enjoy her sexiness is the norm, and did not leave me feeling empowered as a woman.

I didn’t find Taylor Swift’s video of “Bad Blood” amazing or anything, but it at least it a) told a story, b) celebrated badass women. There were no men telling women what to do and no lyrics/images about women having to prove their sexiness to men with their big butts.
Sure, everyone was model-skinny to the point of freakishness and I didn’t love that, but it at least tried to empower women to be badass, even if it didn’t also tackle the issue of weight discrepancy in real life.

Let’s be honest. Some women are just skinny, and there’s no crime in that. One look at Taylor Swift and you’ll realize she’s got one of those “skinny women bodies.” It’s not her fault any more than it’s my fault for being built with junk in the trunk.

Honestly, I don’t normally watch music videos and normally couldn’t care less, but, this women against women shit was distressing to me. As was Miley Cyrus’s response when Minaj threw a “what’s good” her way and Cyrus pretty much put her down.


Stop fighting each other.

The real evil isn’t skinny women versus women with big butts. The “evil” is a society where we feel we’re shunted into those 2 categories. Where we feel we have to sing a song about our big butts and how every guy wants it, or we need to make a video where every girl in it is model-skinny.

Let’s get real. Color doesn’t matter. Body type doesn’t matter. Gender equality in EVERY aspect of American lives matters. So celebrate every body type and let’s talk about women winning their place at the podium, in award nominations, in the arts, in the humanities, in the business world. Let’s talk about women doing the same job as men and not making the same pay for it. Let’s talk about women having to be “lady-like” and there being NO equivalent “man-like.” Let’s talk about women who speak forcibly about something  and are called a “bitch” or an “angry woman” or a “feminist” (as if that was a bad thing) or an “angry black women.” Let’s talk about how we all have the right to get upset, how we all have the right to express our views without being told we should “calm down” or “be rational” or “are you PMSing?”

I want freedom for women to speak and be judged on the EXACT same standards as men when they express their opinions. Fuck who has the bigger butt. Fuck if men wantr skinny women or women with “more to hold at night.”

Who are you when there’s no man to define you? Who are you when it’s just us, woman to woman, and your voice needs to be heard?

Step up. Be that woman, and damn the consequences.


  1. How are there not embedded videos in this post for us to formulate commentary?

  2. Just watched them all (can't use iframes in a comment, so I can't share) but I suppose I'd be pissed too. Swift's video has no story in that it's all exposition; there's no conflict to actually watch outside of the first 10 seconds. It's success also seems to hinge upon the fact that she can afford to hire the liked of Mariska Hargitay, Jessica Alba, and Cindy Crawford to be IN her video.

    That said, IMO Kendrick Lamar's "Alright" has — hands down — the best cinematography, whilst Mark Ronson's "Uptown Funk" has the best song. Really, I'd only put Beyonce's "7/11" below Swift, as it's mainly her in hotels shot with a GoPro. Fun, but ultimately too austere.

    Regarding the feminist issues (preach on), Minaj's video is well, shot, the song is fine (and it reference's the illustrious Sir Mix-A-Lot), but it's nearly 5 full minutes of pure objectification. Seriously, it'll garner views, but what was she thinking? MTV is going to back this (as precarious as MTV's reputation is)?

  3. Great post! I watched both videos. Minaj has shockingly explicit, ridiculous and immature lyrics and more porno-like sexy ladies dancing than I've ever seen even in male artists' typically sexist hip-hop videos. As a guy, my eyes were glued to the screen. Is it empowering? I don't think so. Perhaps you could generously interpret it as Minaj "owning her sexuality" or "promoting a realistically curvy body image," but what's all that crap about "f*ck skinny bitches" -? I don't think empowerment is supposed to be a competition between skinny and curvy women for who can be sexier to men. That's more like, um, whatever the opposite of empowerment is. Now the Taylor Swift video- I can see why it won. It had more plot and special effects and costumes and stuff, plus explosions and someone being thrown out a plate glass window. I didn't think the stylized violent female badassery of Swift's video matched with her silly pop music, but whatever. (The sexual lyrics and porno visuals of Minaj's video matched, at least). Perhaps you could generously interpret Swift's video as being empowering because it shows women doing stuff that's supposed to be "cool man stuff," like smoking cigars and killing people and walking away from explosions. But really I don't think either video does much of anything positive besides just entertain.