Wednesday, 13 November 2013

I'm Not Okay With Lily Allen's Racist New Video: When Satire Crosses The Line [UPDATED]


I'm.... conflicted about this video. 

Lily Allen has always been a bit of a socially progressive, feminist badass, and I do love her for that. In her new single "Hard Out Here", Allen discusses the state of the pop industry, and the impossible standards that women are held to in order to be allowed to progress. The lyrics are classic Lily Allen; she calls out sexism pretty blatantly, and points to the ways in which women are expected to conform in order to succeed:

If I told you about my sex life, you'd call me a slut/When boys be talking about their bitches no one's making a fuss/There's a glass ceiling to break/There's money to make/ And now it's time to speed it up because I can't move at this pace. [...] 
If you're not a size 6, then you're not good looking/Well you better be rich or be real good at cooking/You should probably lose some weight 'cause we can't see your bones/You should probably fix your face or you'll end up on your own/Don't you want to have somebody who objectifies you?/Have you thought about your butt, who's gonna tear it in two?/We've never had it so good, uh huh, we're out of the woods/And if you can't detect the sarcasm, you've misunderstood.

But the video....? It makes me very uncomfortable, and I'm not okay with it.


In the interest of fairness, it's not all terrible. There are some pretty direct and hilarious call-outs of the industry that are completely on point and enjoyable. I mean, seriously, can you honestly say this is anything less than fucking GENIUS?


But there's a lot that rubs me the wrong way, most specifically her use of black women as props. Here is Lily Allen, a white (presumably feminist) woman, making a statement about her autonomy, sexual agency and self worth, while mocking the very same in black women. 

The lyrics of the song are all about rejecting objectification and yet, here she is, objectifying women of colour. It's not lost on me that throughout the video, Allen and her two white dancers are wearing far more clothing than all of the black women who are present.

The black women in this video are all relegated to the background, shaking their asses for dear life, while Lily croons on about how much better she is than all that because she's above the need to sexualize herself. We get close up shots of jiggling asses and black women licking money all while Lily is fully clothed, professing her superiority.

So what does it say that she has put black women in her video in an explicitly sexual context? That she's better than them? What does it mean when she sings "Don't need to shake my ass for you, cause I've got a brain" while surrounded by black women doing exactly that? That's a pretty clear indication of what she thinks of WoC if you ask me.


I get that this is Lily's attempt at satire, and I get that she's trying to call out all the fervor over twerking in the last few months, and I get that this is supposed to be one big joke. But to me, it feels as though black women are the joke in this video. If she wanted to call out the use of WoC as props in music videos and in the larger pop culture, the way to do that was not to also use black women as props. 

To me, this is the equivalent of putting an television character in blackface in order to "show that blackface is bad." It's great that that's the message you want to send, but you don't combat the racist act by participating in it. First of all, talk about mixed messages. And secondly, how can you presume to call out someone on their racist behaviour while engaging in the same behaviour? Satire must be done well in order to be of any consequence. It's not okay to simply do something shitty and label it satire. That's the equivalent of doing something offensive and them absolving yourself from responsibility by calling it "a joke." It is possible to call out oppression without participating in that same oppression.

I know it's supposed to be tongue in cheek, and I know that it's supposed to be a dig at Miley Cyrus, but it falls flat. There's not enough context here to make this anything more than another instance of #solidarityisforwhitewomen. It's been said before, but I'll say it again: "Ironic" racism, is still racism. (A quick search of the tag shows that I'm not the only one who thought so. As I was writing this post, someone tweeted me a link to this egregious misstep of Allen's from earlier this year where she dressed up her husband's penis in blackface [you read that right] as a dig at Azealia Banks. Clearly this isn't her first time at the racism rodeo.)

Elevating her own status as an enlightened feminist while demonizing black women's sexuality is as non-intersectional as it gets. Frankly, as far as I'm concerned, this video is a brilliant example of everything wrong with the current climate of white feminism; white women asserting their power and dominance as women while ignoring the ways in which those actions negatively affect the WoC with whom they claim to be in solidarity. I mean, did we learn NOTHING from Miley-gate?


It also really annoys me that yet again, we're not only dealing with an instance of a white feminist displaying a pretty egregious intersectional fail, but also seeing other white feminists fail to call her out on it. (Jezebel literally says it's totes cool for Lily Allen to objectify black women because satire) Just like with Miley, it's not okay to simply ignore the problematic aspects of white feminist's politics just because you agree with other parts of it. Yes, sexism in the industry is terrible, and we should be calling it out, but why can't we do that as well as call out the racism? Or at the very least, not contribute to it?

For Lily to pen an anthem of sorts, dealing with female empowerment, and then disempower WoC through the way that she depicts them is incredibly racist. And it kills me that someone who is supposedly a feminist didn't see how this action plays directly into the existing status quo of denigrating WoC in order to elevate and lionize white women as bastions of purity and womanhood. This.... we've been through this before! We JUST had this discussion! Why are white women still so oblivious?

In the end, it's exhausting to keep having to defend your humanity to people who are supposed to be on your side. I think, I'm less annoyed that Lily Allen did this, and more annoyed that white feminists who were so "enlightened" after Miley's debacle, have failed to make the connection to the problematic elements in this video, when it's the exact same situation. Susuana Antubam, (another black intersectional feminist) gives a pretty great rundown of why this video is so problematic, so you should definitely check her piece out, as well as this excellent deconstruction from #BlackInAsia.

Honestly, this shit isn't hard. White ladies, stop shitting on women of colour to make yourself feel better.  It's really that simple. Acknowledge and respect that WoC already have a million times harder than you do in this world by virtue of their skin colour; don't make it harder for them gain parity with you. Being an ally means recognizing your privilege and making sure not to wield it as a weapon. Do more than pay lip service; be cognizant of your own racist intent and call it out when you see in others. Because this shit is getting really old.

*****
Editor's Note: After I published this piece, this tweet was retweeted into my timeline, and I thought it was so impactful that I had to come back and include it:


Discussion of the Blurred Lines video spanned the entire summer. White feminists decried it from the very beginning, calling it misogynistic and rapey; both accurate assessments. However, notice that all but one of the women in that video were white. And that fact is significant because the opposite is true of this video. And it points to a larger issue within the white feminist movement of not being able to recognize WoC as deserving of dignity or protection when they are attacked and objectified.

When white women are objectified, they are able to identify it as such; they have no problems calling it out for the misogynistic bullshit that it is. When black women are objectified, it doesn't even register on their radars, much less click for them that black women also deserve to have their dignity protected and fought for. White feminists' silence on the degradation of black woman's sexuality is deafening. It speaks volumes that their tunnel vision is so severe that (yet again!) they are incapable of seeing or engaging with issues that do not affect them directly. Yes, the lyrics are fun and great and empowering, but the VIDEO IS RACIST AS FUCK, and you need to talk about that shit too instead of hiding behind your white privilege blinders.

*****
[UPDATE]: Lily Allen released a statement of sorts commenting on the criticism that this video has garnered a little under an hour ago. It is predictably unsatisfactory.

On the first two points, I find it... enlightening to discover that meritocracy suddenly applies to BW in the entertainment industry when the position to be filled requires sexual objectification.

On the third I say, "Intent is not magic." The fact that she did not set out to offend doesn't change the fact that she DID offend. Satirical comment on pop culture or no, when you look at your end product and it looks exactly like the very thing you claim to be making fun of, you need to go back to the drawing board. Black women's bodies and sexuality are not a joke, and the politics of how and how often they are displayed in public for the benefit of the white consumer is about race.

On the fourth: there is no problem with her covering up if that makes her feel more comfortable. But why then are the black women's bodies still on display? A racial dichotomy already exists between the way that the sexuality of BW and WW are perceived. To make a choice like that is to condemn the objectification of WW and dignify the objectification of BW. Why not have the BW cover up? Personally I think that having them be fully clothed and twerking would have gone a long way towards shifting this video into satire.

On the fifth point; classic non-apology. "I know you're hurt and offended, but I didn't mean to do it so it's not my fault you're so sensitive." Not like she contributed to the distribution of harmful images of black women or anything. No big deal.

On the final point, I honestly see this as a derailment of the issue at hand. There are so few opportunities for WoC in the entertainment industry that any paying gig is likely seen as a saving grace. For black and brown women, participating in their own objectification is oftentimes they price they pay for access to the industry, and potentially better opportunities down the line. But more specifically, because of the dearth of positions available to black women in the industry, it is HIGHLY unlikely that those women are going to come out and say that they felt uncomfortable and objectified by being a part of that video because it could mean that they are never able to get work again. Who is going to hire the black woman who makes waves by calling her employer racist when there are so many other WoC eager and willing to do whatever it takes to fill her spot? It is unfair of her to put them on the spot like that and all but require them to side with her, when choosing not to do so could have a devastating effect on their careers, regardless of their true feelings.

In summation: Lily Allen, you're on some bullshit. Not only did you contribute to the objectification of black women, you doubled down on your racism when called out, and refused to apologize for the damage that you've done. I thought you were cute, but you've officially lost a fan.

182 comments:

  1. I think this is probably a consequence of her living in a really white world. We think that she understands that her music doesn't exist in the vacuum of her own surroundings, but maybe pop star culture doesn't lend itself to perspective.

    I'd like to think - I HOPE - that if someone were to sit down with her and go "DUDE. LOOK." and explain what you just did, she'd get it and vow to do better (kind of the same way I feel about Joss Whedon, actually). We just haven't seen it yet, which is frustrating as hell.

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  2. Except I really don't think that's an excuse. She's famous and wealthy. She as access to the same if not more resources that we do. It's not that hard to figure out that this isn't okay. And if it is that she's calling out Miley Cyrus, and I REALLY supposed to believe that she hasn't seen/read/heard of ANY of the criticism that Miley received for her racist shitshow? This is a case of white feminist blinders, plain and simple.

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  3. Charissa here- I agree. It seems like she wasn't mocking Miley for appropriating black culture but mocking her for wanting to be like these stupid bitches AKA WoC. And the new face of WoC is a twerking fool,apparently.

    Also, where is the slut shaming analysis White Feminists would usually rush in with at this point? Does slut shaming just NOT apply to black women at all?! When Lady Gaga waves her vag around almost nude it's empowering and ~embracing your sexuality~ but when black women twerk it's by default degrading,objectifying and for the male gaze? Where are all the feminists that defended Miley's twerking as female sexual expression? Allen's feminist analysis is completely in-congruent with that. I find it outdated and off base with current trends in feminist analysis to write it off as mindless objectification. This video is satirically racist and just plain racist racist if you ask me.

    Miley uses black girls to show how cool and edgy she is by association. Lily uses black girls to show how elevated and intelligent she is by comparison. Explain to me how one is better than the other. No, really.

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  4. Especially after reading those lyrics, I really wanted to be able to like this. I watched the video with an eye that honestly wanted to find something that could disagree with this argument and find some reason why this video wasn't that bad, because at least there was a positive message at the end of the day, and surely no one could write those lyrics and then have those women twerking and acting like the sexual objects that she was rejecting being defined as. Surely there had to be some aspect of the video that was really just a clever parody, and there was something that was missed, some magical key that made it clear that all of the women of color who were dancing along were in on the joke and were parodying their own treatment in videos.

    Nope. Nope nope nope. None of the above. Now, I'm sure that if you sat Lily down and asked her, she'd tell you all about how it was a grand parody and that the view of those models and dancers in contrast with the song was surely just a big ol' joke that we'd all get if we could just stop being so sensitive about silly little things like intersectionality, because the point is that mumble mumble something or other girl power, don't you see how you're undermining the movement by demanding that you be included and understood?

    Just fucking awful, and an excellent article. I actually just found this blog tonight and this is the first post that I've read, but I can virtually guarantee that it won't be the last. What an awful mess, but at least you've managed to slice right through to the heart of it.

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  5. "It seems like she wasn't mocking Miley for appropriating black culture but mocking her for wanting to be like these stupid bitches AKA WoC"


    THIS. YES. Someone I follow on twitter said it awhile back: WW don't see BW as being in need of protection. They're ALWAYS read to cape for white women, who are frankly, less likely to actually be the victims of these kinds of sexualized tropes, but they are nowhere to be found when the same criticisms are levied against BW. They don't see us as people with dignity.

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  6. Thanks for reading. I completely get what you're saying because on the surface, the lyrics seem like that they're heading in the right direction, but the video makes it very clear that she doesn't see black women as deserving of the same protections that she is demanding for herself. It's intersectionally blind, and it's bullshit.

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  7. Alright, so I think that your claims in this essay are completely off base. The idea of WoC being objectified is not some new trend with the twerking movement that has come forward in the past two or three years, the idea of a "video vixen" has been something that has been around since the early days of rap videos in the early 90s. I think it is completely without bias for you to say that Lily Allen does nothing but think that Women of Color are just "eye candy," in fact it begs the question if you truly understand

    The fact that you think that she is racist proves what a genius satire that this is. The sexualization is meant to be graphic, it is meant to make you angry. It is meant to show you what actually happens in these kinds of music videos and has happened for YEARS. I mean where the fuck have you been all of this time if you are condemning a song about the objectification of women that uses this objectification, THAT HAS BEEN AROUND FOR DECADES?? As soon as a white woman brings attention to it, she is just shamed and branded a racist. It really is true that women could rule the world if they didn't hate each other so much.

    The ENTIRE video is satirical. Lily Allen is mocking all of these rap videos where women DO have champagne being poured on them while they shake their asses for the objectification. The idea that there are close-ups of the women grabbing their junk and you can see the vibrations as their asses are slapped is meant to shock and bring awareness. To boil it down to the fact that the video is racist is just righteous rhetoric that does more to foster a divide between "white feminists" and those of color, as you so call them. These women obviously knew what was going on during the video considering that she sings the lyrics while on set and the direction was explained to them. Not to mention, how can someone be objectified if they are in on the joke? I mean, really.

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  8. lmao, yes Joss Whedon is such an anti-feminist when he raves about Black Widow on the commentary of the Avengers and discusses how the only two times that Hawkeye EVER misses are when she is fighting him, since even though HE (a man) is the GREATEST archer in the world, he is nothing compared to Black Widow (a woman).



    Smh what a misogynist he is.

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  9. yes, because there are no white woman in the video shaking their asses or doing things that can be viewed as objective. In fact, I even think that there is a moment when a WHITE dancer is seen crawling on the ground with money all around her. But yes, the only women objectified in the video are of color. Astute observation.

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  10. Oh "A moment"? My bad, I was distracted by the REST of the video where black women were being denigrated for their sexuality. My bad.

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  11. So, your idea of proving that Joss Whedon does NOT have intersectional issues to point out that he raves about a WHITE WOMAN.


    Okay then.....

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  12. Must have totally missed that episode of Buffy where the Original Slayer is black. Or you know, the entire character of Zoe or hell, even Morena Baccarin who is Brazilian (non-white) and truly the one character from his entire verse that shows how much power a woman has over a man.

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  13. Oh my little dumpling darling... having a few characters of colour doesn't make you NOT a racist: http://www.racialicious.com/2009/02/16/joss-whedon-and-the-blurry-line-between-homage-and-appropriation/

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  14. "The sexualization is meant to be graphic, it is meant to make you angry. It is meant to show you what actually happens in these kinds of music videos and has happened for YEARS. I mean where the fuck have you been all of this time if you are condemning a song about the objectification of women that uses this objectification, THAT HAS BEEN AROUND FOR DECADES?"


    So, there is NO POSSIBLE WAY to call attention to the objectification of WoC WITHOUT ALSO objectifying WoC? Got it. I really appreciate your little lesson in racism derailment.

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  15. Sorry to kind of jump in here, and this is probably a stupid question (because I don't imagine there are too many of you floating around), but are you the same NinjaCate who comments in Jezebel?

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  16. so because the adviser hired by the network wasn't proficient in mandarin Joss Whedon is a racist? Pass me a cup since that is some piping hot truth tea!

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  17. but WoC are NOT the only people objectified in the music video.... I mean she spends the entire first 45 seconds getting plastic surgery because it is demanded of her, the lyrics of the song speak for themselves....



    Plus the group of dancers is ethnically diverse. The emphasis is placed on the African Americans since that is where the emphasis is placed in these other videos that she is satirizing (Robin Thicke, Miley Cyrus etc.) she follows the popular model, since her song is a commentary on the CURRENT state of popular music. she is calling attention to the objectification of all women and the way WoC have been treated in the past is the easiest to sensationalize.... to call Lily Allen a racist because she is satirizing the common model is laughably naive but I mean the point stands about not being appalled by the ones responsible for this original objectification (men and the creators of the video vixen) but instead the woman attempting to bring attention to how wrong it is....

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  18. Lol, yes. That would be me. Although I've since left. But thanks for stopping by! :)

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  19. You do realize that Mandarin the MOST SPOKEN LANGUAGE IN THE ENTIRE WORLD by native speaker, yes? And that by that account, it wouldn't have been very difficult to find a native speaker to give them actual dialogue?


    Honey, darling, doux doux, you're a mess. A willfully oblivious, racist mess. Feel free to troll elsewhere. I won't be approving any more of your comments.

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  20. Sigh... Your logic. It fails. I'm pretty sure I'd already have won racism bingo from your comments if I had bothered to keep count.


    TWO non-white dancers is NOT ethnically diverse. Especially when the black women are the ONLY ones scantily clad. There's no issues with focusing on black women if it's not done disrespectfully. Do you know what satire IS? Doing the EXACT SAME OFFENSIVE THING as someone else does not magically become satire just because you label it such.



    And remind me of how this is a commentary on the "current" state of pop music if according to you, the objectification of black female bodies been going on for years? Why call it out now? Why not before? I'll tell you why. Because mocking black women is au courant now. That's all there is to it.

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  21. did you miss the scene where the asian dancer is sitting on the sink wearing nothing but a tiny jacket, a bra, and shorts that barely cover even the underside of her ass? Because I think that you did.

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  22. What part of this makes it so clear to you that the women of color in this video are in on the joke rather than simply being decorations that are laid about the set? I'm sure that Lily Allen probably intended the reading that you're trying to force here, but there's simply no indication that this is about them being in on the joke. All I can see is over the top objectification and the same typical bullshit that's visible in pretty much every other video that you're describing. Though it is nice to know that the objectification of women of color and their sexuality has only been going on since the early 90s, at least. Quite the relief.



    All I'm seeing from this comment is the exact same "Why are you overreacting and trying to make things worse" crap that I usually see in a nice long mansplaining rant about how feminists are just so angry and divisive. Things would go so much smoother if you could just calm down and stop being so angry all the time. Why not just get on board with the rest of us and help society run along instead of trying to be so divisive?



    That's a load of absolute crap, of course, the same way as it is when someone's trying to use it to shut down feminism in general. If you can't see that this was well-intentioned but ended up an intersectional mess, and you can't even respect the opinion of someone who's explaining it to you and instead just have to be dismissive and chalk it up to "Women hating each other," then you're not doing anyone a favor except for a white feminist establishment that has no interest in issues regarding the unique issues of women of color. And that brand of non-intersectional feminism that thinks that solidarity is more important than ACTUALLY ADDRESSING PROBLEMATIC, RACIST BULLSHIT is certainly no brand of feminism that I have any interest in.

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  23. i like the song a lot, but the video.... yeah she worked the parody in all aspects EXCEPT race and objectifcation of women. no, lily, just because YOURÉ wearing clothes doesnt abjugate you from the fact that you HIRED WOMEN (presumably without brains) TO DO THE SAME. And mostly black women.


    She should have had virtually naked, raunchy male dancers of all colors. Problem solved.

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  24. I think she doesn't see women twerking and showing their bodies as bad, actually the lyrics are quite clear about that.
    But at the same time I guess she could've made her point better, I don't know.
    I have some doubts...
    If she didn't use twerking, would the critique in the video be seen as current? as something that's still happening?
    If she wanted to use it because it is current, but only with white ladies, wouldn't it be cultural appropriation?
    Her point that women can do whatever they want (show their bodies without being called a slut, or not) would reach every woman if all the women were white?
    I'm not asking questions I know the answer, it's just things that I'm in doubt. And I know you're not calling HER racist, I see the video has some problems.
    Maybe a scene showing how the dancers despise the old guy too, and are actually lily's friends? I mean...

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  25. Wait, what?


    I don't think I called him an anti-feminist or a misogynist. I think he has massive blind spots, that's all.

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  26. I think that the author of this may not fully understand satire...

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  27. No what makes it satire is the underlying point of the entire video to point out the problems with the entire industry.
    If you think she just simply mimicked the same offensive things with no other intentions then you've sadly missed a very big glaring point.

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  28. Did you just trivialise the sexualisation of white women. Disgusting.
    YOU are the problem.

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  29. Considering that Lily herself says that the selection of dancers was based on "meritocracy", you would be wrong: https://twitter.com/lilyallen/status/400390917313413120

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  30. I think this commenter may not fully understand misogynoir and systemic racism.

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  31. ORLY? How do you figure that?

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  32. I had the same experience. I'm a longtime fan of Lily Allen, and wanted to find some reason to defend her, but this video is really offensive and out of touch.


    And to expound on your point, without some really obvious sign of humor it's really hard to take this as satire, and so the impact it will have on the casual viewer - that is, the majority of viewers - is likely just going to be to reinforce existing tropes and stereotypes about women and particularly WoC.

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  33. "What does it mean when she sings "Don't need to shake my ass for you, cause I've got a brain" while surrounded by black women doing exactly that? That's a pretty clear indication of what she thinks of WoC if you ask me."


    Also, that line offends strippers, many of whom do it to pay for college.


    I like most of the song/video. But there are also major issues.

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  34. yeah, I didn't pay attention to that. That can be seen as contradiction definitely. Since she doesn't want to be called a slut for talking about sex, but at the same time women that show their bodies supposedly don't have a brain. But what if the emphasis is on the "for you"? What if women can shake their asses, not specially for men, but because they feel like shaking their asses?
    The song put together with the video is problematic, but I don't see everything as clearly right or wrong right now.

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  35. I totally agree- the male dancers thing would've worked as satire much better.

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  36. I'm glad you weighed in on this, NinjaCate! I was reading about it yesterday on Jez, and then there was a subsequent article on Groupthink discussing the issue. The prevalent opinion on Groupthink seemed to be "Nice try, but no." While I think she was genuinely attempting satire, it certainly does fall too flat to really work here. We really needed to see the WOC being in on the joke in order for this to resonate, which suggests that she entirely missed the point when attempting to set up the "satire", and instead the whole thing ends up just looking exploitative.

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  37. When I first watched this video last night, my initial reaction was to be uncomfortable with the portrayal of black women in the video. But then I thought about it more and figured it was meant to be a deliberate call-out of Miley Cyrus' objectification of women of color, and I thought the presence of the old white guy on the shoot was meant to show that she was not in control of it, that these old white guys were the ones pushing the objectification and the twerking.

    But her apology shows that was not the intent at all, that instead she and all the people around her did not see the racism inherent in this video. Or they did see it and just didn't care. It makes me sad because last night I was psyched about the song and loving Lily Allen.

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  38. Funny how satire is often rooted in white supremacy. This is one of those times.

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  39. of course anyone can shake their ass if they want to.

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  40. Why is it SO HARD to listen to WoC and take what they say and go 'wow, that made them feel xyz so we should take that into account' … instead of FIGHT THEM on it? My God. Be allies for REAL, and HEAR WHAT THESE WOMEN ARE TELLING US.


    Jesus. This white feminist/WoC feminist rift is getting worse because white women just can't seem to frigging LISTEN to WoC and take what they say and turn it into action. Instead what do we do? We fight their feelings and emotions and valid points because we think we know better? Please. We do not know their walk. We can't even BEGIN to know their walk. So quit fighting and LISTEN. This isn't a contest, it's life. And we need to support each other.


    I've had it with this fight. As a white feminist I'd like all my white feminist sisters to SHUT THE HELL UP and LISTEN. Then, instead of attack and fight, ask questions and try to understand. You never will FULLY understand but TRY. THEN and ONLY THEN attempt to engage in civil debate on the issues. But clearly no one is listening first. They think they know better than WoC and it shows. It's ugly. It needs to end.

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  41. in her apology: ". If I was a little braver, I would have been wearing a bikini too" --- so... how are you so different than the women you are trying to satire? Lily, this apology isn't working.

    But I like 85% of your video/song if that makes you feel better!!!!

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  42. Good points .. lord girl defending yourself with body shame as a defense is really totally against your point isnt it? when I first saw this I was so happy to hear a song speaking to the issue, I appreciate her self parody parts but yeah when I saw the dancing I did feel like well she's doing the same thing as the "bad" videos just saying its a joke or statement, I was conflicted. However, to be very honest, as a white feminist I just didnt pick up on the WoC part, honestly didnt note the color of the girls and its impact, its not willful ignorance just a lack of awareness - this is not better per se just an explanation. I mean I hate the werk bitch Britney video and its all white girls shes whipping (I think) On Blurred Lines, the song jumped out at me first then the video made it worse and then it was WAAAY worse for me to see so many girls be all yay this is cute and funny. The stabby rage was how ubiquitous it was (#1 all summer) the rapey song while the issue of rape culture was a hot topic, the irony was not lost to me. I hated Riri's video with the pole dancers, I dunno I see it all equal but I think that it just doesnt jump out at me becuase I dont have the sensitivity of being in that group. Definately its and issue that I need to be more aware of, its hard enough to be feminist "bitch" out there, we need to stick together :)

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  43. "That's a pretty clear indication of what she thinks of WoC if you ask me."


    Good god, are you for real???

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  44. What I find weird was that if she had sent two of the better dancers who were black home and replaced them with less skilled white dancers to even up the skin colours, people wouldn't have a problem?! Ha! Weird.

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  45. and if she used all white women, they'd say where's the woc?!

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  46. well, she explained that herself on twitter: "@shimmer_n_glow the lyric is "dont need to shake my arse FOR YOU". Its about ownership."

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  47. I think Lily Allen was making fun of using black women as props... but she definitely could have made that more clear.

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  48. One White dancer versus a crap load of Black dancers? Okay.

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  49. Yes! The First Slayer is black. An animalistic, aggressive, largely non-speaking role that is first presented as an enemy trying to kill Buffy and her friends. Second time she's shown, a white woman must speak FOR HER. Third time she's been upgraded to "Magical Negro" and is a footnote on our white heroine's quest. NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT! And Inara. Yesssss. The ultimate power a woman has over a man is...intimacy and sex. That's progressive! Putting a woman of color into the role of exotic hooker...never been done before.
    I love Joss Whedon; I love every Whedonverse there is. That doesn't mean that the man wasn't raised in the same racist (and sexist) soup we all were and that shit comes out sometimes in unexpected and subtle ways.
    In other news, thank you for writing this NinjaCate. It's really helped me stay informed on this Lily Allen thing. I'm sorry that more white feminists aren't speaking out about this, and I pledge to do better than that.

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  50. Particularly with the line about her not shaking her butt because she has a brain, I feel this is criticizing and shaming Black women. She puts herself on a pedestal while looking down on those who "twerk". When I saw this I really felt as if she was attacking me as a Black woman and looking at us in shame. I know one commenter said it was satire (no duh) but the issue is it's not GOOD satire at all. Honestly by looking at the video, she really misses the point of her criticism of Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke.



    "Twerking" or dancing suggestively is not the issue, especially if the woman makes an independent choice to do so. It is the racism of cultural misappropriation (Cyrus) and the rapey, boundary crossing, "I own your body" male privilege that forces many women to be seen only as sexual objects (Thicke) that is the issue. Allen not only misses the mark but she completely goes off the rails with this.

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  51. Problematic as many aspects of this video are, It doesn't logically follow that the line "I don't need to shake my ass for you 'cause I've got a brain" means "women who shake their asses have no brains." I interpret that line to mean, "I have other ways of gaining public attention than my body, so I feel no need to objectify myself." I see no implication that women only shake their asses because they "need" to out of brainlessness.

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  52. You make great points, though I don't know if it's fair to judge all white feminists based on Jezebel. There are some of us who aren't early twenty-something, uber-privileged (and I mean beyond the obvious privilege of being white) hipsters. Lily Allen most definitely missed the mark here, and honestly I'm still unsure what the hell her mark was supposed to be. WAS she poking fun at Miley? That isn't nearly as clear to me after reading her non-apology.


    I was shocked by the endorsement Jezebel gave this video. Yes, the lyrics are fun and spot on, but the video is obviously not. It made me uncomfortable and when I got the chance I went onto to see if anyone else was seeing what I was seeing and I most definitely wasn't. There was even a groupthink thread dedicated to it where I feel the majority agreed with my sentiment.


    I do wish more mainstream media sources had condemned this video. A lot of my favorite places online openly gushed and it bothered me quite a bit.

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  53. Even The Onion has been called out when they've gone too far. There is well-done satire (which I think Lily Allen is usually good at) and poorly done satire. Unfortunately, this time Lily missed the mark and fell into the latter category.

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  54. I don't think we would have this conversation if Lily was black herself.
    It looks to me like she hired the most qualified dances that came to audition, why does it bother you that the best twerkers happened to be black?

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  55. I don't know if saying "I don't need to shake my ass because I have a brain," is the same as "people who do that are dumb." The point, I was thinking, was that women have options and society (specifically the music industry) try to deny women those options.


    Don't get me wrong, I'm not defending the video. It's so problematic it's crazy. I just think that one, particular part is being misinterpreted here.

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  56. The whole concept of mocking WoC having champagne poured on their asses by having....WoC having champagne poured on their asses just seems ridiculous to me. There are so many other ways this could have been conveyed. Funnier ways. Subtler ways. Hell, Dave Chappelle did it better in that video where he mocked R. Kelly, and the women were wearing way more clothing.

    http://vimeo.com/41156263

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  57. Doesn't matter what your "race" or gender or anything is, if you are a performer -- you going to be sexually objectified.
    All Lilly Allen is doing is using the latest fad of twerking. Is it about rich white women using their advantage in life over black women -- or, is it about Lilly Allen just trying to "fit in" with her work? Seems she's trying to bridge all of that, all at once. Being all sides of it at the same time. Beyond that, there's no soul in the song -- what happened to real heart in a song that you actually feel? Hope we start trending in that direction with new artists soon!

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  58. Well, insinuation is a thing. She should have considered how it could come across. Now THAT would be using her brain.

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  59. You know what would put an immediate end to this? If WoC stopped offering to be objectified. Stop showing up to the castling calls when you know it's for a video that's going to portray you negatively. Don't take their power away, WoC have a responsibility to stop this too! Don't take the money, have some pride and self-worth.

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  60. You know how when feminists make comments about men acting a certain way, and how we roll our eyes when men act offended because we didn't put in a disclaimer that not all men are like this?



    Batty Mamzelle is not talking about all white feminists. She's talking about the white feminists who don't see a problem with Lily Allen's video or who outright think it's awesome.

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  61. Don't get me wrong, I get that. I was trying to express my annoyance at Jezebel more than anything else, and they seem to be the first media source that people bring up when talking about not just white feminist on the internet, but anything after second wave feminism in general. It bugs the hell out of me.

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  62. I happen to think her use of black dancers was meant to further her stance on how pop culture prostitutes women out. Black women, and women from all races, nationalities, and ethnicities are capable of greatness, but the pop culture industry creates the stereotype that colored women in pop culture are only capable of shaking their asses and pouring alcohol all over themselves; it has become so infused in daily life that women strive to be "candy girls" or as "The B in apartment 23" states, the top hoe. Women are being objectified for money, it's sad. I feel that Lily Allen was making a grander point that possible presumed.

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  63. geez, it doesn't make any sense!! I couldn't see any racism on the video! so, just in case, beyonce is forbidden to put any white girl to dance, because, you know, it may sounds like racism too... such a bunch of bullshit!

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  64. I love the song and the crazy thing is I did not even recognise that most of the girls in the video was black.....I just saw women......then again people do tell me that I'm colour blind. And isn't this a parody of sorts? Were the girls supposed to dress as nuns to get her point across? And if they did, would you have recognised it?

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  65. I love the song and the crazy thing is I did not even recognise that most of the girls in the video was black.....I just saw women......then again people do tell me that I'm colour blind. Plus, isn't this a parody of sorts? Were the girls supposed to dress as nuns for her to get her point across? And if they did, would you have recognised it?

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  66. I wasn't aware of this video, so thank you for this critique. It is disheartening that she is so clueless (given she is supposed to be 'enlightened'). It shows what a dearth there is-in the mainstream anyway-of truly thoughtful, clever artists who recognize&support the struggles of all women. The best thing we can do is seek out truly gifted, enlightened artists and share their work.

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  67. the best twerkers are not black it is assumed black girls must be able to twerk because it has been a move in african and caribbean dances for centuries. Even if the best dancers to hire were black, why is it then that there is not only black girls in every other artists videos and why are these girls wearing less than the white girls in this video? as a black woman it is very unsettling to see another woman not matter her skin colour create a video like this which is common for sick black men; if it was on mute all i would see was a reiteration of the sexualisation that has gone on since slavery, but as it is by a female artist it will be taken as accepted by females. it reminds me of how the hottentop venus was paraded around europe as white people were fascinated with her black body eg. large vagina and bottom. This again exhibits that racist ideology of "otherness": black women are fascinating so they should be displayed naked in public whilst white women should cover up, the implications of this have been horrifying!

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  68. Do you think that if all the dancers were white women someone would have wondered why there were no women of color in the video? Did you also notice that she says the word bitch in the song about 25 hundred time? Since when is it okay to classify women as bitches? Also did you hear the line "And if you can't detect the sarcasm/You've misunderstood"? What about he dancers? What do you think they think of your argument? You're basically calling them undereducated because instead of thinking Lily Allen is racist, they auditioned to dance in a music video. They probably got paid for it too, does that mean Lily Allen thinks these women of color are prostitutes? Burn the witch!

    I find it's easier for people to pull the race card more often then they should.

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  69. The entire video is about ridiculous motifs in the music video industry. How is using black women as objects and props not a criticism of how music videos treats them? I thought the entire point was that the entire 'video' part of her video was to leave a sour taste in your mouth, to point out how ridiculous the way these videos treat women singers and dancers alike.

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  70. So our options are exploitation or underrepresentation? Got it.

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  71. Oh sure! Obviously the way to change a racist system is to disengage from it entirely and remove the minimal representation we DO have. As soon as we do that, everyone will magically realize that they're racist AF and come crawling back to BW, begging them to take on better roles that treat them fairly!


    Oh wait.... what was that? They'll probably just get men to dress in drag a la Madea or SNL...?

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  72. And she made that grand point by.... participating in that negative objectification? Oh.

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  73. Troll harder. I like a challenge. This is petty shit.

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  74. Thank you for writing this article. Whilst staying out of the music biz for a while it would be just like Allen to make a grab for most attention seeking graphic way to launch back in...not a problem, as we know women in any industry will work twice as hard as male counterparts. But the video is what it is. Narrow minded and very poorly represents all women...Lily Allen should have known better, or at the least, re think her management team.....oh wait, she's already done that. Merry Christmas everyone x

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  75. "How is using black women as objects and props not a criticism of how music videos treats them? "


    You do not critique unsuitable behaviour by engaging in unsuitable behaviour. Would you criticize rape by raping someone and then saying afterwards "But it was satire. I only did it show that rape is bad"? No, you wouldn't. Because that would make zero fucking sense, and you would just be a RAPIST.


    In the same way, Lily Allen is just a racist. *shrug*

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  76. Troll harder. Please. I'm begging you. I need something better than "Privilege Blind Racism 101" to cut my teeth on.

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  77. No we wouldn't. Because the racial dynamics would be extraordinarily different. Is that really that difficult a concept to grasp?

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  78. oh puhleeeeeeez this is bullshit

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  79. Some things are 'over thoughts' LOL

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  80. @lilyallen "Your music video reminded me of something that one should never forget: White feminists don't want liberation for all women they want a cut of the plantation profits."

    Feminism and race are linked and that is the only thing that is "clear". Try reading a book
    or think about Black women standing on auction blocks for 300 years. A real critique of the
    "objectification of women in Pop culture" would have been to show
    that cellulite does not diminish your own sense of beauty. You can't protect
    your insecurities while disregarding mine and not be criticized. Your right a smart racist would apologize and her non-apology statement is proof she's a dumb one.

    Her cowardice and pettiness reaches new heights when she seeks to hide behind people who she paid
    for the use of their bodies. Lily Allen should be ashamed to subject her employees to
    any of the criticism that she rightly deserves. Where were her "balls/tits" then? She used them like human shields publishing their twitter names and urging the critics to "ask" them. Just a shining example of the strength and power of the white feminist to fight in the cause for independence from the "man". #solidarityisforwhitewomen

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  81. Satire would be Lily Allen fully clothed with a bunch of half naked men dancing behind her and licking money.

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  82. One would assume a writer of an article of this nature would be able to handle criticism and be up for a discussion (since this is a discussion piece on a public forum). Instead you resort to comparing the subject to a rapist (bit harsh) call people trolls and basically reply to every comment with extreme sarcasm.

    I get it's not a white persons place to appropriate black culture, I'm not an idiot. But I think calling someone a racist when they were in fact trying to prove a point (however that point is taken, obviously everyone doesn't have the same opinions on it) is a bit drastic.

    Cheers.

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  83. The. Video. Was. Mixed. Race. They're not all black; one is Latina; one is white. I'm afraid in your effort to spotlight a very important issue (racism) you've in actuality trivialized it by finding a problem that's simply not there. Up your collective, Portlandia arse, as it were. No one all summer called "racism!" during the Blurred Lines debacle and there are literally only 3 black people in the video and the rest are all white. Lily's response is great and you can't handle that she has nothing to apologize for whatsoever. She's a badass.

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  84. That's not trolling. It's logic.

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  85. Hey NinjaCate, you *do* realize that the video was mixed race right? This is a ridiculous, complete non-issue. The reason so many people don't even take racism even *existing* seriously any longer. The recent stand your ground deaths *were* racist. This. Is. Not.

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  86. I'm pretty sure you don't at all either, since the video was MIXED. RACE. Jeez, this is a really poorly argued article. Lily's response was spot-on. You probably should look up satire, as you clearly don't understand it either. Miley's video had *only* black women dancing. Even *that* is a bit of a stretch to call it racist, but I could see the argument as they're used as props. In this video, there is a Latina woman (or Asian American, it's hard to tell actually as she's towards the back) and a white woman in the video as well. It's mixed race. It's a total non-issue. But we should fight these battles right, for the greater good? NO. We should be making all stand your ground laws illegal and overturned, NOT finding a mixed race video racist. Because it's not. At. All.

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  87. Uhhh but watching the video and even in the stills you have posted, I see that not all the dancers were black. It was a mixed race group. Would it have been better if it were an all white group? This is kind of ridiculous. Seems like you're missing the point and throwing stones at a strawman.

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  88. That was a very, very poorly executed argument with the rape analogy. You're really grasping at straws here aren't you? VISUAL SATIRE generally does engage in the same behavior it's satirizing. To rape someone in real life is a totally different, despicable action. *shrug*

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  89. This article so much. If nothing was said about the racism in the video, I bet money people would have been hailing this as an artistic achievement instead.

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  90. Oh do forgive me. I forgot that white privilege means that you think it's appropriate to come into a BW's safe space, deny her lived experience and dictate to her what racism is or isn't.


    My darling, quit while you're ahead.

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  91. And what race were the girls who were having their asses smacked, being poured champagne on, and having close-up crotch shots?


    Oh.

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  92. I'm sorry but the level of utter offensiveness in this particular reply of yours, NinjaCate, is so high I have to respond twice. It is OFFENSIVE to equate rape to dancing. PERIOD. You're literally trivializing rape by doing such and it's disgusting. You're propagating rape culture with this comment. Again: DISGUSTING. VISUAL SATIRE usually uses the same exact visuals in what its satirizing, as does written satire with written words. A physical act that dehumanizes someone and leaves them either in the hospital, dead or scared and in therapy for a very long time is not equatable to this video. You just might be the best example on this entire thread of someone shooting the racial equality cause in the foot by your utterly ignorant and asinine comments. No one will believe racism is a problem if a MIXED RACE video that is SATIRE and explicitly states so in the lyrics is the latest battle to fight. Sad, sad, sad . . . and extremely offensive.

    Plus, you don't know the correct use of the word "troll," since most of the intelligent points brought up on this poorly written blog you've called "trolling." Trolling would be if I wrote "shut up bitch" as my sole comment. Or called someone the N word. You dig? Writing down intelligent, clearly stated points is. Not. Trolling. Your comment is disgusting. Don't trivialize rape and propagate rape culture in the process! You lose all credibility and trivializing rape IS trolling. I'm sure you'll now write a predictable "you're a white male and have no say on the matter" response, but everyone has a say. If we don't all speak up and change the world for the better, especially due to thinking "this topic is off limits, this one is on" etc. nothing will change. This video simply isn't part of the many problems we need to change, however.

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  93. This is not a public forum. I do not owe you anything. You are free to spew your white privilege nonsense elsewhere, but I won't be tolerating it here. Ciao.

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  94. I'm a white feminist, and I noticed the racism right away, and was kind of shocked at how explicit it was. I think people like Lilly Allen and Miley Cyrus have a shallow understanding of what life is like for people who are not exactly like them, and they believe this lack of understanding is license to do whatever the fuck they want. I'm a college professor, in my late twenties, and most of my students are black. I am aware every time I step into a classroom that I don't know what their lives are like, and that the only reason I'm standing where I am is because of privelage (some of which is white privelage). This does not take away from the fact that I'm a talented professional, it is just the truth, and denying the truth doesn't negate it. In fact, denying what is actually happening makes matters worse. I've been reading about Third Space Theory and how some colleges have loads of white teachers who are afraid (or don't know how) to teach effectively because they skirt around or deny issues of race. As a human being, in any stage of life, in any profession, it is important to be aware that there are things one is ignorant of. I think Lilly Allen's video is a show of her lack of awareness, not only of herself but of others.

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  95. Maybe I'm just really bad at this, but of the six background dancers in skimpy clothing, aren't three of them white?

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  96. You should probably disable commenting if you don't want people disagreeing with you. Claiming "lived experiences" and "safe spaces" doesn't make you immune to criticism.

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  97. That tweet invalidates what you're saying. This post would've worked better if it was a criticism of bad satire, not claiming racism where it doesn't exist.

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  98. This may have already been said, But Lily Allens video is satire of other pop culture starsthat she is calling out. Lily's use of black women as props points to Miley Cyrus terrible video. Many of her other features in the video point to Rihanna, and Robin Thicke as well as Miley. Lilys just pointing the blame.

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  99. Other people having opinions makes you angry huh? Also you don't understand what the word troll means... which is really disconcerting seeing how many times you've used it. Besides that I think that her used of black dancers was a bit over used but I mean it really made you stop and think about how women are used in the music industry( especially those of colour). While her music was pop her video was a parody of a rap video, or it at least looked that way. I know that this video angered a lot of people but male artist do this on a daily basis so perhaps they are the ones we should be writing angry blogs about rather than the women that are trying to make a point. Perhaps I'm just far too white to have a say on this... not sure, but just think about it before you tell me I'm trolling.

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  100. Lily Allen's video is a failed attempt at satire that reinforces the racialized dynamic of the exhalation of white women's sexuality at the expense of the denigration of BW's sexuality. Intent is not magical. It doesn't matter what you MEANT, if that meaning is not accurately conveyed.

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  101. Or, I can simply deny access to people who come into MY space and don't play by MY rules.
    I never said I was immune to criticism and I don't expect to be. But I have no obligation to entertain racist derailments.

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  102. I believe you missed the point of the video. If you think what the black women are doing in the video in any way represents black women or their sexuality and not their objectification, I am offended. Your issues should be with the very videos she is mocking.

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  103. The video "represents the objectification of black women" because it OBJECTIFIES BLACK WOMEN.

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  104. Can you say "troll"? Feminists, pick your battles. You're giving us a bad name.

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  105. So what you meant was "WoC, make sure to only fight white feminists' battles." Got it. Thanks for the education!

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  106. People clearly don't understand the entire point of the message. She began the video stating that she ended up having two kids, she is clearly comfortable and happy with the baby weight put on. She is also making a reference on how people are really using sex to sell records.

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  107. Quoting Mia McKenzie: "I like satire as much as the next person. I write a lot of satirical stuff myself. And you know what? Satire works best when you are flipping the script on the oppressor, on the system. When you are calling attention to the ways that the system is jacked by amplifying the absurdity of that system. Not caricaturing and otherwise disrespecting the people who are oppressed by that system.
    Satire has been defined as 'a genre of literature, and sometimes graphic and performing arts, in which vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, corporations, and society itself, into improvement.'
    [...]
    So, how in the holy fuck is it 'satirical' to 'criticize' the sexist music industry by shaming and insulting black women?"

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  108. I think she's racist because she's British.

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  109. wow.... just... wow... would have been great to maybe show how women can be more than just sexual objects but she does the exact opposite. i think you are totally right on with this. if this was a jab a miley cyrus totally failed. all people in the future will see is someone doing exactly what miley did- degrading women and being racist

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  110. LA is a UK artist. Yes, to American women the WoC in this video would appear to be objectified/appropriated because in the US it is not as common to have WoC in film, television (lead characters), music, theater. As an artist, LA is from a region (and most popular) in a region where having a mixed in ethnicity and race cast of performers in not seen as abnormal.


    I don't understand as a WoC why we choose to not take this into consideration as well. More so, we don't ask any questions anymore. Who are these dancers? How did they feel about the video? Who directed this video? We don't ask questions; we point and write. Getting us nowhere. And again, 2chains can have a $50,000 twerking competition for women to get a scholarship, Terry Richardson can be disgusting as fu*k... and the rest of American entertainment industry continue to make sure that women, more specifically, women of color in the United States will either be objectified or pinned against one another as not being smart enough to make decisions for their body and its actions. We can't win, huh?

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  111. Wait not all twerkers where black. WHAT ABOUT FAT AMY! She was there!

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  112. Another who did not get the message of the video. Have you ever realized that she is parodizing exactly this racist apperarance of actual videos? :)))))))

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  113. You say "you need to go back to the drawing board." - no, you need to go back and study cultural studies, symbol meanings, coding/decoding. If the video is not perceived as very simmilar to "real" videos, it would not be that powerful.

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  114. Regionalism doesn't change the functions of exploitation. It is not their labour that is being exploited, but their image as black women. In that way, it doesn't matter how they feel about it because they essentially become interchangeable with any other woman with black skin. (Re: My update)


    But you don't think WoC have a problem with 2Chainz and Terry Richardson? I have a constantly updated celeb shit list of people I will no longer support because they shot with him. (Minus Beyoncé, because.... Beyoncé...)

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  115. Replicating a racist act is not parody. It's just racist.

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  116. No. In order for this to be effective parody, there would need to be that "wink, wink, nudge" element that clearly identified it as self referential and ridiculous. This is missing that. Instead, it's simply a replication of harmful tropes.

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  117. Yes, I saw this video this morning and was gobsmacked. I was absolutely loving it and then suddenly it turned this horrific corner and I didn't know whether I wanted to claw my eyes out, burst into tears, or just smack her. What was even more painful was that someone -- a woman! -- I'm fond of had posted it with great praise, saying that Allen had really shown Miley Cyrus a thing or two. What? That objectification is bad unless it's black women?

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  118. I am a white girl, and i must say all the fuss made about Robin Thicke seemed really related to the fact that he's white. I've heard way worse rap songs. So i see what you mean here but...that's maybe because i'm french and not very well-informed about african-american feminism, but from a very outside point of vue, it seems like you're waiting for white women to defend you, when very clearly, in the american/anglo-saxon culture, people are still separatists. Look at all the other "political" situations, when, exactly, do american white women really stand for black women? I guess almost never.
    Thing is, i never saw a black singer, man or woman, really stand up against sexism towards black women. Beyonce, Rihanna are just recent examples of singers who are objectifying themselves and make a lot of girl think that emporwerment is shaking your butt on TV. But in spite of all this, it's like they're considered like role models! It's exactly like the "gangsta"/"pimp"/"bad boy" figure in rap music. How exactly does it serve your community? It just reinforces the stereotypes towards black people, but then again, who stands up to say "no more of this"?
    It's of course very important to fight against racism, but if we're talking sexism here, i suppose it would be better to start focusing on what's happening inside the african-american community, to fight these stereotypes from the inside.



    Of course i can be wrong and biased, and i'm perfectly able to admit it :) I also apologize for maybe using the wrong vocabulary, not being an english native speaker.

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  119. Because if it's not all about white women, then it's trivializing them. Of course.

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  120. Claire, I'm actually working on a post right this very second that deals with the issues you've raised, and illustrates why you're approaching this subject in the wrong way. It should be published sometime later today. I hope you'll come back and read it.

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  121. Oh great of course i'll read it :)

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  122. I couldn't agree with you more. Beyonce and Rihanna are what I discuss every time in regards to the exploitation of women. They are success already, when will they feel the need to stop stripping for the public?

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  123. I find this very compelling. I had completely missed the racism in the video. Thank you for calling it out, and pointing it out to me. I will try to be more aware of this sort of thing in the future.

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  124. Contrasting outrage over Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines & Lily Allen's Hard Out here is a false comparison. While both are problematic the difference is:

    Lily Allen's song is well meaning satire, with some unfortunate cultural implications that should have been deconstructed before the video was ever cast & made.

    Robin Thicke's song is misogynistic, offensive, sexist, condescending, encourages violence against women and is a huge blow to the sexual development and enjoyment of anyone who takes it's message to heart.

    So the next time you try to call me out for being a white feminist and not responding in the same manner to every upsetting video out there - lets remember, outrage comes in different shades.

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  125. This video sent my racism alarms right off. It's like - ironic objectification of (black) women is still objectification. And Lily should've known better than to make fun of twerking, instead of making fun of people who appropriate it. It could have been such a great video - but this is why we can't have nice things.

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  126. I liked this article until the very end. Your generalization and hatred is exactly what turns people off from feminism. Can we discuss issues without blanket statements and hostility? Anger is good (women of all colors have a lot to be angry about), but there's a lot of hate spewing from your fingertips, too.

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  127. Yeah, I got pretty bored with the article.. I mean if you think about the video, its genius. Basically the imagery is going to appeal to the demographic that most needs to hear and understand the lyrics - men. Sooo when taken from that perspective its brilliant. The exact same people who were into "Blurred Lines" are going to watch this, and the lyrics should hopefully resonate with them. And also, honestly, if the article's author gets up in arms every time a black woman shakes her ass in a music video?..well, damn their fingers must be getting tired of typing by now.

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  128. Besides, nobody is forcing those women to shake what their mama gave them. From what I can gather they love it. And It is a safe bet those women of color that were "getting shit on by white women" in this video were undoubtedly compensated handsomely for their efforts - efforts they undoubtedly enjoyed doing. The author needs to chill out, in my opinion.

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  129. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r67xcDqKQYo

    i suppose you think this is okay though because its nelly yes? hypocrites. its shocking that people can't watch this video without seeing those women as just women/dancers & instead separate them because of 'race'. everything that is wrong with the world today, and in my opinion, those who are stating its racist, are racist themselves. Why don't you go get angry at nelly for objectifying the women of his own culture? because to me, thats even worse.

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  130. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r67xcDqKQYo

    i suppose you think this is okay though because its nelly yes? hypocrites. its shocking that people can't watch this video without seeing those women as just women/dancers & instead separate them because of 'race'. Its an example of exactly what is wrong with the world and to me, those who think that the video is racist, are racist themselves. Why don't you go and have a chat with Nelly who's objectifying women of his own culture in a worse way? That to me is a lot worse.

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  131. who gives a shit if you're offended? so what? it's not Lily Allen's job or anyone elses to "not offend" you. all of you touchy cunts need to calm down. you really think she hired only black dancers or would've turned them away just because they're black? you're a baby and an idiot.

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  132. of course you moderate the comments. god forbid you have to have a debate with someone who might 'offend' your precious sensibilities.

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  133. I love how you're apparently the authority on what is and is not racist. Tell me, where did you obtain your Ph.D. in Racism Studies?

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  134. There were pretty blatant crotch shots of all of the dancers. I don't think the definition of objectification is "the act of pouring champagne on a person." So your point that Allen is elevating non-blacks over blacks by singing anti-objectification lyrics and objectifying black women is just wrong.

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  135. I actually think you're over-egging the race issue here for a very simple reason. There are only six dancers in the video. If there were forty and they were all WoC, maybe you'd have a point, but six is a miniscule sample size and they are NOT all black. Surely it follows that these six are just the best dancers at the audition call that day, that they were picked regardless of race, and that they are dancing in this way to send up the style of most modern pop videos?
    I understand your concerns in principle but I don't think you need to see them reflected in this particular video.

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  136. I too had missed the racism in the video and after watching it again and again I still miss it. I think you might be attacking the wrong person here all together. It was making a quite different point and one that really needs making right now (and I commend you for using the video release as a means to open a quite different debate). Gender politics and the objectification of women's bodies impacts on all races.


    I didn't interpret Lilly saying I'm better than these WoC, in the lyrics or in the context the visuals provided. I interpreted a message that was saying this genre of video is laughable, women (all not just white, not just Lilly) are way less superficial objects of sexual desire than the hateful music industry portrays them as. I don't agree that the the WoC were background props, they provided the context for a parody of a particularly annoying genre of music video and of the media in general.


    I respect and accept all of your points describing the abject racism that WoC face and how more difficult their situation is, but I struggle to see how Lilly was further "shitting on them".


    In terms of your take-down of her statement,
    1 & 2. I don't think they were being sexually objectified, per se, I think the video was pointing out sexual objectification, and whilst the difference might be subtle, it is a difference. (I once had the surreal job of teaching a group of nuns English swearwords, not because they needed to use them, but they needed to understand them. I wasn't teaching them to say "f*ck you" but I was teaching them the word - that's the subtlety I mean).
    3&4. If you are making a parody of a genre, there is a need for some realism (would the aforementioned nuns twerking have got the message across more clearly? I think not.) Clothing everyone would not have been provided the parody of semi-naked women in music videos.
    5. Both Lilly and you assume you're right, but there are bigger battles to fight and more important enemies to race and gender.
    6. In effect I think you have derailed a feminist argument into a racial debate, but you are both winners in this respect. She's got some extra press (albeit uncomfortable) and you've got a debate going and the mainstream press linked to your blog. So it's kind of an ugly win:win.


    Lastly, as you can see from my pic I'm a WM so I have probably got the wrong end of the stick, but I identify as a WGM and the G is sadly not all together welcomed with opened arms by all elements of the white community and certainly not by many elements in communities of colour. So it's all a bit crap really.


    Have a nice evening, and thanks for your blog post. I enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed Lilly's song.
    Dxx

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  137. is it really racist or is she really highlighting the fact black women are commonly used in this very manner in music videos

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  138. She's making a comment on how hip-hop culture has become so superficial and is reduced to showing off how rich you are and having all the "bad bitches" in the world!! Are you seriously suggesting that criticising the "Bling" culture of Hip-hop music is racist? Also besides there being women of different races in the video, in most rap video she's essientally making fun of the girls doing the "twerking" are black. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?list=RDY34jC4I1m70&v=atHekn9KE18, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehcVomMexkY)

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  139. Just a question I've been curious about for years: do you have to *look* of colour or do you just need to have some heritage of any race (that is not... which one exactly?) to be considered of colour?

    I'm from Spain. Over here, a person of colour might be anyone but us, who are mainly Caucasian and white. However, we are treated like people of colour in the US and sometimes in the UK. Lily does not seem very white to me, to be honest. She might have English heritage, but I'm a Spaniard and I'm paler. So, I'm confused.

    What about the Portuguese, who are also Caucasian but usually have darker complexion than Spaniards?

    Do you know 23andme? It can tell us the exact percentages of our races and origins. I haven't done it yet, but I have planned to. What percentage of non-Caucasian or non-white would Lily need to have in order for her video to be fine? Honest question. I'm Asperger and I need numbers to understand certain things.

    I also want to add I did not what twerking was until this Summer and was very surprised to learn it is supposed to be a WoC thing. I think we might be lacking cultural knowledge from the US over here.

    Sorry for the spelling. Sent from my iPhone.

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  140. It's worth noting that, including Allen, there are four main female dancers who are dark skinned and three who are not. Then, in the last quarter of the video, another dancer is introduced who is also not dark skinned - the woman with pink hair.
    I saw the video quite differently from you in that I believe the starting sequence really places the video in context and grounds it successfully as satire. I saw it as Allen being transported into a pre-existing video as seen on the screen in the operating room. It is this fictional video (influenced heavily by current artists and themes) which Allen is commenting on.
    Also, I find your wording super problematic. For example, "The black women in this video are all relegated to the background..." is worded terribly. A person is always a person before they are a colour.
    While I appreciate your passion, I believe you are describing what you want to see and not what is really there. I applaud Allen for continuing this conversation, despite how questionable some parts of this video may be when viewed out of context.

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  141. I am teaching a Feminisms in Popular Media course & we watched this in class this morning (at the prompting of a student). I had only read the lyrics & heard the songs. I had not yet seen the video & I am appalled. We watched this at the end of class & I didn't have enough time to debrief. I'll do that next week, but in an earlier class, when we were discussing other egregious examples of sexism & racism, one of the students raised her hand and said, "When they were coming up with ideas, wasn't there just ONE person in the room who raised their hand & said, 'Uh. Maybe that's not such a good idea?'" Since that day, it has been a running theme in the class. This video falls directly into that category. Black women's bodies are still colonized, objectified and commodified, even in the minds of people who claim enlightenment. So I pose the question that my student first asked. "Wasn't there someone in the room who could have spoken up against this offense? And why isn't Lily Allen standing up now?"

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  142. I read your article, NC, and I'm appreciative about what you raised and taking it in as further education on people's opinions and views in this world, as well as helping to shape and re-shape my own. So valuable, so thank you.


    As I've begun reading the comments in order to continue getting a more widened perspective of the discussion this video and article has sparked, I must agree with Christo in the way in which you're communicating with those who perhaps don't agree with your statements is lowering my value of your opinion in this article, and then others you write.


    It's a shame because you write so well, with clearly, straight-forward and persuasive arguments, but you must be able to accept that all do not share your opinion and your refusal to at least listen to the other side negates everything you're trying to convey.


    It's your personal website, yes, but you're allowing others to comment (and encouraging this) and I hope you will at least be open to accepting these other opinions as they will probably even help you moving forward with other issues you feel the need to discuss. Part of how change happens is when we see, and realize, and help understand the feelings of WHY from both sides, and working towards an understanding to move forward with that knowledge. It's from constant education for everyone that encourages change.


    Don't alienate your readers, especially those that don't agree - you run the risk of losing out on providing an environment or opportunity for change. Thanks again for your time in writing this informational piece and others.

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  143. in that case, you should probably write a personal diary and not hold a public blog :-)

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  144. Was she not also merely parodying Miley Cyrus's objectification of Black women in her VMA performance? The slapping of butts, the twerking, the tongue-out, crotch grabbing choreography is all almost a direct imitation of Miley's performance. I think Lily tried to symbolically state that the objectification was not good either (and I think, too, intentionally put two other white women in the video to avoid the same spark of controversy.) I think by participating in this video, the black women owned the parody themselves, and claimed "It's hard out here for a bitch" but perhaps it's even HARDER out here for a black woman.

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  145. To me it seems like they're trying to turn white stereotypes into positive values, and i really think it's a trap. It's not because someone chooses to objectify oneself that it means it's a feminist or affirmative decision.

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  146. I'm not trying to be a dick but there are 2 white dancers in that video as well - has no one considered that maybe an open call for dancers was put out and these are just the best; regardless of skin colour?!

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  147. "as a white feminist I just didnt pick up on the WoC part, honestly didnt note the color of the girls and its impact, its not willful ignorance just a lack of awareness "


    I think the experience you've just described is EXACTLY "privilege blindness." Because we have white privilege, it's harder for us to see the racism in "Hard out there" because in this case, it's black women's bodies being exploited (AGAIN). Easier (for us) to see in "Blurred Lines" because there's more white women. But it's extremely important that we look. (And listen.) Just my take.

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  148. Lily Allen is two faced she bangs on about being a feminist yet only afew yrs ago she was taking her kit off for everyone to see. It seems like double standards to me. Now she paranoid about her body after having kids she now saying women that do sexualized themselves are bad hmmmm smells like bullshit to me.

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  149. Now Lily is down on her own body due to having kids she is now a feminist,yet only afew yrs ago she she was taking her kit off for all to see hmmm double standards!!!

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  150. And it's not just the dancers. Am I wrong? The very chorus of the song is a play on the Three 6 Mafia song "It's hard out here for a pimp". By changing the word pimp for bitch, it explicitly targets black culture. The word "pimp", when used in off the cuff critical statements, is by now established as a crypto- (and not-so-crypto-)racist reference to "inner city"/"gangster"/"Ghetto"-culture.

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  151. In you come on your white horse wielding your privilege like a... never mind. Anyway, you focus solely on presence and NOT action. WATCH what these women are doing (and not doing), look at the difference in what they are wearing. Hit mute and this is nothing more than Miley 2.0. You said it yourself, the non-black women are in the background barely noticeable, while the black women are fodder for Lily Allen's misplaced satire. I could go on but it's been said time and time again. There is a bigger picture here and it is you (and so many others) who refuse point-blank to see it.

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  152. Oh dear, look again. If this is "genius" genius has plunged to all new lows. You say, "It is meant to show you what actually happens in these kinds of music videos and has happened for YEARS." Why on earth would we need to be shown (in the exact same way) what we have seen umpteen times already?! You say, "The idea that there are close-ups of the women grabbing their junk and you can see the vibrations as their asses are slapped is meant to shock and bring awareness...As soon as a white woman brings attention to it, she is just shamed and branded a racist", awareness and attention to what exactly? The fact a white woman can get in on the act too, and by doing so only serve to reaffirm the one and only function of the black "video vixen".

    If her aim was indeed "mocking all of these rap videos" why not put men (of all colours) into the degrading position she has placed these black women? Objectify the male body while the women stand by fully clothed and fully fixated. Instead Lily Allen decided the "one dimensional black female representation in a music video" shtick would be a better advertisement for feminism and female empowerment. No doubt she achieved this (for herself) to the detriment of her black counterparts all while showing a minutiae of skin and proclaiming to be too brainy to "shake her fanny". Nothing remotely insightful or groundbreaking here just more of the same tomfoolery and exploitation.

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  153. This is bullshit. England deals with the same issues of racism as the US does. WOC have the same limited opportunities to enter the entertainment business in England as in America. I can say that as somebody who has resided in both countries. And 2 Chainz never had a twerking competition. You're clearly speaking on issues you have no knowledge of to make some misdirected point.

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  154. If you watch the video you will see that Lilly herself does a bit of twerking, so it isn't just the black woman in the video is it? And the 'Black woman' aren't really black they are mixed colours ranging from caramel to different light brown shades. You are being a sensitive crybaby. Lilly Allen is better than the rest of the woman in the video and she doesn't care two shits what you aren't okay with. This race card thing in general is a joke. It's just being used as an excuse to get attention.

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  155. Here's the thing: I'm writing for ME. If other people happen to like it, that's cool too, but I'm not really concerned about it. This is my space for me to talk about the things that matter to me. I'm perfectly fine with people disagreeing with me. I'm NOT okay with people using racism 101 arguments to derail the conversation. 75% of the people who have disagreed with this article or raised objections have used the same repetitive and racist rhetoric that is easily disproved. I AM NOT GOING TO SPOONFEED PEOPLE. If you come to my space and derail arguments about the intersection of race and feminism, (things that I am speaking about from a firsthand experience btw) coming from a place of privilege to simply deny my lived experience, I don't have time for you. I just don't. And I don't apologize for it. I don't owe anyone anything; least of all an education. If you've decided that you don't like my tone (which... is a whole other silencing tactic) then you're free to find other blogs that suit your tastes better.

    It's unfortunate that you think less of my writing because you don't like my tone IN THE COMMENTS, but I can't control that, and it's not my concern. I hope you'll stick around I suppose, but don't for a second that my blog is a about "providing an environment or opportunity for change". It's not. I'm not here to educate people. It's not my responsibility to do that. I'm writing for me, and I'm engaging with people who have at LEAST an intermediate understanding of critical race theory. If you're not there, then you need to get there before you engage with me, because I WILL shade you if you try to come with 101 rebuttals to information that has been proven time and time again. I don't have time for that.

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  156. When you criticize "hip hop culture" and categorically ignore the misogyny and violence in country music and rock music (white dominated genres) you're racist.

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  157. Sigh.... As usual, you've simultaneously missed the point and proved mine. Which part of "white people don't get to decide what is racist" is hard to understand? did you read what I wrote? The comparison between the two is with regard to the response from WW and WHO THEY SHOW UP FOR. It's about who they (and you apparently) think is worthy of protection. And it's not black women.

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  158. Lol. PERFECT execution of "this is why we can't have nice things"! I completely agree. Instead of mocking the appropriators, she mocked the very people who were appropriated from. It's something that could EASILY have been picked up on with a little self-awareness and an intersectional perspective.

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  159. That's lovely I suppose. I'm not sure what you're referring to, but either way, you should read this (http://battymamzelle.blogspot.com/2013/08/On-Tone-Policing.html) before commenting here again.

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  160. Oh my darling. Do your research before you come at me with ahistorical nonsense. People were so upset by this video that it ENDED BET's Uncut segment, and Spelman College protested an apprearnce he had planned to make on their campus. THIS is what I mean about people trolling. You haven't even TRIED to engage with this topic honestly.
    http://bit.ly/1cAGJJO

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  161. And... you've willfully missed the point. Sigh. That's okay.

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  162. I'm not an expert on racism. I'm a VICTIM of racism. Which means I have more experience with it than people white privilege. It means I know what it feels like to have your choices limited because of your skin colour. It means I can spot a derailment from a mile away.

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  163. So singing about anti-objectification is all that's necessary to absolve yourself from objectifying people?

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  164. It's racist. Highlighting something does not necessitate replicating that thing.

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  165. I'm totally fine with your disagreement on everything except policing how black women identify. You don't get to tell me (or any PoC) how to refer to themselves. It super easy for you to say that "A person is always a person before they are a colour" when your humanity has never been denied. When historically, someone who looks like you wasn't even considered fully human, you tend to cling to the one identifier that they can't take away: your blackness. I AM a BLACK WOMAN. I'm not a woman who happens to be black; I'm a BLACK WOMAN. And that is significant. Black here is a an adjective that modifies the noun. It is part of my identify, and you don't get to tell me that I can't have it.

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  166. and last i checked, black women willingly and gladly and gleefully shake their booties at everyone who'll look. we need to respect our selves, plain and simple. we're seen as booty-shakers, ass-shakers, nothing more. can you blame white women? these women are disgusting, because they put our collective dignity on the line.

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  167. i find this hard to believe. surely if rappers can constantly find nothing but white or non-black or mixed race girls to fill the role of main video girls or spotlight girls, i doubt its merely coincidence that these women were majority black given that lily allen herself is white. nothing in music videos is there by happenstance. it's all choreographed and coordinated, to every last detail, by those in charge of production. you give them all waaay to much credit to suggest otherwise. its not a question of sample size here.

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  168. You are just white ignorance and self-righteous indignation PERSONIFIED for even bringing that video up. What I find "much worse" is how effing pathetic it is that you sat your RACIST white ass down to search the internet for that video so you could throw it in black people's faces but you couldn't even be bothered to ALSO try and see if there was any kind of negative backlash from black women regarding that video. I find it so TYPICAL that your racist ass automatically assumed that black women were okay with that video.

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  169. The British culture, including what is perceived as P.C. or racist, is
    DIFFERENT than US culture. What is acceptable in the UK may not be here
    in the US but we shouldn't go applying our own cultural standards on
    everyone else. Yet we have scores of open-minded, P.C. feminists FAILING to comprehend this is
    a different culture and a different method of story-telling.

    American men surround themselves with black, booty-shaking women all the time in
    film clips. But when a white British girl does it, it's not OK?? All this demanding that Lilly feel shame for
    what she has created seems far more inequitable than having dancers who are black.



    What if they were white? Would that make it OK? Is it how they dance, the color of their skin, or a combination of both, that makes this racist?

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  170. So what is the actual crime here? That her dancers were black? That she has dancers who twerk? Or both, maybe?

    She was parodying MALE rappers! How did everyone fail to see this??

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  171. I very clearly explained what the "crime" was here. If you don't know what it is, then I can only assume you haven't actually read the essay, which means there isn't a whole lot I can do for you.

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  172. All of your questions have already been answered in this essay. Racism is racism. Hopping across the pond doesn't make it less racist to decorate yourself with black bodies.

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    ReplyDelete
  174. "Everyone knows black ladies dance best, number one."


    The fact that you actually thought it was appropriate to write that tells me everything I need to know about why this essay went completely over your head. Please don't comment here again until you familiarize yourself with with the way the dynamics of power as related to race, actually work.

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  175. Yes, your being a white man completely negates any opinion on what you might "deem" to not be racist, let alone what you deem to not be racist+misogynistic. What would you say if this were a "social critique" music video with a bunch of gay stereotypes - the prancing, crystal-meth-addicted, best-gay-friend hairdresser. It's suddenly "OK" simply because of how ridiculous it is? No, it isn't. It isn't when you do not provide a clear starting point for actual discourse and simply fall on racism, sexism, homophobia to supposedly get people to "think", when in reality it does the exact opposite; it panders to their own deeply-seated hatred.


    Point number 5 is very telling of how people like you try time and time again to deflect discussing that you not deem "critical" or how there's "more important stuff to deal with". Well guess what, this shit is important. The abuse, ridiculing and silencing of women of color by self-proclaimed (white) "feminists" is absolutely worthy of discussion and debate and you are decidedly delusional if you think that both the mistreatment and the critique are some kind of recent phenomenon.

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  177. When were you born? I find it funny that a black woman in 2014 is going on and on about how terribly oppressed she is. Black people in previous generations were far more oppressed than you will ever be.

    Does a white feminist get you up every morning and beat you for being black? If so, I TOTALLY understand why you hate white people so much. Oh wait. You live in modern society and the worst thing you are exposed to is people not taking you seriously on the internet. Oh, that's somewhat less understandable then.

    When you hyper exaggerate everything it just makes you into a parody. I'm highly educated, so don't bother with calling me ignorant. The theories you are propping yourself up with are weak and not really respected outside of feminism.

    Do you realize the "privilege" argument comes from a white woman? Why are you spouting the theories of white women to defend yourself?

    Maybe you should look at your blogger privilege. I mean having an internet is a privilege. It's also pretty pathetic that you call everything racist (but it's really funny, too). You pretend to be educated, but educated people don't use scholarly research to act like an ass. I do love your over the top attitude though. It's fucking hilarious!

    Still, I see you as a joke and have no respect for you whatsoever. You're so defensive it's like watching a little dog snarl and bark. Isn't that cute? LOL

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