So, be warned, this may not be my most forward thinking post, but I’ve been thinking about the contradictions inherent in myself recently, and thought writing about them, whilst posting some relevant videos might be something I could do on a Sunday. Apologies if I offend.
Anyway, here’s my confession. I absolutely adore sassy, sexually aggressive, punky female electro raps. It’s this little corner of the music market, and I can’t resist it. I’d like to coin the term ‘ElectroSass’ if possible. Because that is clearly what it is. Anyway, here’s two videos to demonstrate. I would’ve also included I Want U by Basment Jaxx, for a sense of balance, but it doesn’t have a YouTube.
Anyway, another warning. These videos are not for the fainthearted…or anyone with standards. Of any kind whatsoever.
Robyn – Konichiwa Bitches
Princess Superstar and Mason – Perfect (Exceeder)
What can one say.
Am I really celebrating the empowerment and freedom of sexually liberated women, or am I merely enjoying some gorgeous women who are willing to objectify themselves for me?
It’s a tricky one.
My first defence would be to how much I love to sing along, and I swear, I emphasise every sexual focus of it. But then, is objectifying myself really a defence against objectification of others. Not really. You don’t raise people up by lowering yourself.
However, I am thinking of creating some kind of electro drag cabaret act.
That would definitely be fun….though I might have to shave my beard.
Anyway, one element of the videos I do like is that I think both of them are actually, in themselves, challenging the act of objectification and commodification of sex in quite interesting ways.
Princess Superstar’s ludicrous make up, get up (suspenders whilst doing gymnastics…who woulda thunk) and sexual pilates, all point towards the ridiculousness of the performative nature of female sexuality in the media. She exaggerates just enough to demonstrate that it’s all absolutely ridiculous. The artificiality of the displayed sexuality just becomes impossible. You can’t help but laugh. Her celebration of her own perfection becomes parodic. The lyrics also, proclaiming her to be a powerful sexual force, perfect in every (physical) way, but by missing out so much become about the two dimensionality of a caricature of her as nothing but sexual aggressor (who of course, to fit into the necessary gender constructs, is in fact offering herself up freely, no matter who you are) and the lack of depth to that.
At least, that’s what I try to convince myself.
The Robyn video is ludicrous, of course; and almost entirely distances herself from the overtly sexual content of the song. Although in fact, it merely expresses I more symbolically. We actually see her become a string of objects. She’s not just ‘tasty like a french bonbon’ but she actually is a colourful sweety. When she’s ‘coming in your mouth make you say yum yum’, it’s not the obvious sexual act you’re thinking of (maybe) but merely her as a sweety being eaten. Is this implying the way her sexuality causes her to be subjected to oppression, and how her personality is subsumed by the assumed male listener.
Or I may be thinking about this too much.
I do that a lot.
So lets return to me….last weekend, at the party I DJed at. Now I put on a skirt in order to be able to play my set. Airflow helps you see (not entirely true…I just like to perform, I look good in skirts and it gets a rise out of people). Anyway, I put on a mix of the Robyn track, and dance and sing along in a quite horrific manner. But I try as much as possible to put myself on the table. Emphasise my sexuality and sexiness. Thrust myself out for people, offer myself on a plate. I’m the one bursting out of my jeans. I’m the one offering to come in your mouth. I’m the one setting fire to your house.
Now, I don’t know whether it was sexy, but it was certainly an attempt to objectify, or at least sexualise, myself.
I enjoyed it, it felt sexy, and even though clearly nobody was lapping it up, apart from finding it amusing, I felt desired and empowered.
Now, this is a strange thing, because I was consciously aware that I was putting myself in a gendered position. One that I felt shouldn’t be gendered. Was I challenging it by using my status as a man, and choosing to take on the submissive role? Was my choice making people re-evaluate their gendered identity politics, or was I simply reinforcing them? See, I am wearing a dress like a lady, that means I am sexually available and an object of desire.
I don’t know. I never know…and it’s one of my problems. Often attempting to challenge peoples stereotypes and ideas only reinforces it. Either by showing how ‘unnatural’ those who don’t conform are, or merely by reannouncing the specific qualities associated with each side of stereotypical binary.
There’s also the question of agency. By choosing to be sexualised, I have expressed more freedom than the women who are forced into that. I can choose to wear a skirt, or whatever and make myself sexualised and objectified, but many women find themselves objectified like that no matter what they wear or how they present themselves.
It annoys me that I always notice women’s bodies. I enjoy them greatly, and I know that I am just become another cog in the machine that treats women as something purely that, physically embodied desire, two dimensional and useless for anything but satisfying men’s ‘needs’. Of course I try (and almost always succeed) to rise above that, to talk to people like people, to find out about what makes people tick rather than trying to get to see them naked.
But there’s always an undercurrent, and one that makes me uncomfortable. Plus I can act funny when I’m not getting any….I become more ‘on the look out’ for sex. Obviously that’s fairly natural…but I don’t like the fact that it’s floating around in my head…like an uncontrollable monkey ready to grab and snatch at opportunities. I try not to make it affect my behaviour, but it’s not always easy.
So where does all this leave us?
Well…I’m not sure. I almost feel like I completely cancel out all my positive thought about gender abolition, my respect and involvement in feminist dialogue and the fact that I do attempt to make people re-evaluate and consider their viewpoints and attitudes. I try to get people to think about them.
But so much of it remains in the way we analyse and enjoy the world around us. I am stuck loving these cartoony representations of female sexuality (I’m talking about the songs above by the way, not Hentai). I am left unsure of my use of language at all times. It is so easy to leave standing things you mean to shatter by simply casually tossing around words and definitions in day to day conversation. You actually need to almost always be conscious of the meanings your words might conceal, as well as the ones they project.
Magazine journalism is in a terrible state these days. There is blind and thoughtless sexism everywhere, and I think it seeps out so much into every other aspect of life. The Media is almost like a distributor for pollutants. It could do so much to destroy the status quo, but it only ever reinforces it.
I don’t entirely know where that tangent came from, so I think I’m going to leave it there before this becomes even more rambled and confused. I may return to it in another post. And we all know how often the overarching themes here present themselves to me. An obsession of mine maybe.
Anyway, thoughts? Questions? or even better, how about some answers?