I don’t tend to keep up on popular music much, but there are two videos that have popped up in my newsfeed recently that are similar in many ways and different in one key way. Both of these songs are sung by women, include a variety of female backup dancers, celebrate female sexuality and bodies, and focus heavily on butts (particularly big butts). But there has been remarkably different response to the two videos: one of them has been censored in a number of places, derided as disgusting and objectifying, and has provoked a great deal of controversy among some who believe that it’s inappropriate. The other (at least in all of the responses that I’ve seen) has been lauded as a feminist anthem that celebrates a variety of body types.
I’m going to leave the two videos here, and we’ll play “see if you can spot the difference”.
Now I can see some of you saying that one is more explicit than the other, that women have more clothes on in one, blah blah blah. Let’s be honest. Race is at play here. A white woman who proudly proclaims that she likes to shake her booty is treated significantly differently than a black woman who does. No woman is exactly encouraged to embrace her sexuality, but the coy, modest version of white sexuality that is on display in All About That Bass is clearly far more palatable to our society than a black woman who is oozing joy in her own body. Don’t get me wrong: I love both of these videos. I love the self-love that shows in both of them. I love the celebration of women and women’s bodies. But it’s no surprise that I like All About That Bass better. I’ve been trained to do so.
Time to start questioning.