British pop singer Lily Allen has proven once again that solidarity is for White women by positioning Black female bodies as hypersexualized props in the video for her new feminist anthem, “Hard Out Here.”
The video is allegedly a satire skewering the sexism and misogyny — both internalized and institutionalized — that infests Hip-Hop culture and the entertainment industry at-large. Champagne bottles? Check. Dark-skinned thickness? Check. Weaves? Check. Ass slapping, tongue licking and car straddling? Check, check and check. Allen, apparently blinded by her own Whiteness, claims “race has nothing to do with it at all.” But colorism and racism are on full display as Black women in thongs bounce, twerk and wobble with it around her.
Though some (primarily White women) may see this obvious manifestation of privilege as an empowering mantra, it is nothing short of racist, hypocritical objectification. Allen is purposely capitalizing on the very same misogynoir that she claims to want to dismantle. This begs the question: When did the degradation of Black women become a revolutionary act?
As she repeats the hook over and over, “It’s hard out here for a bitch, bitch, bitch,” each echo is a slap in the face of Black women who are called bitches every, single day. She exercises her right to appropriate the word “bitch” then uses it to debase the Black, female bodies around her. Whether it’s street harassment in Atlanta, Chicago or New York, or in [insert generic Hip-Hop video here], our bodies are fetishized, demonized and marginalized — and Allen stands guilty of trafficking in the othering of women she claims to respect.
Let’s be clear: I refer to the women in the video as Black, female bodies, because their womanhood and humanity are not recognized. They do not exist beyond the scope of the predatory White male gaze, embodied by a White man giving them instructions on how best to display their bodies. They are there to service White female privilege, and to entice the very same Black misogynists on whom Allen is casting judgment. And for her to suggest otherwise is an insult to our intelligence.
See below for her weak justification via Twitter:
Privilege, Superiority and Misconceptions
1. If anyone thinks for a second that I requested specific ethnicities for the video, they’re wrong.
2. If anyone thinks that after asking the girls to audition, I was going to send any of them away because of the colour of their skin, they’re wrong.
3. The message is clear. Whilst I don’t want to offend anyone. I do strive to provoke thought and conversation. The video is meant to be a lighthearted satirical video that deals with objectification of women within modern pop culture. It has nothing to do with race, at all.
4. If I could dance like the ladies can, it would have been my arse on your screens; I actually rehearsed for two weeks trying to perfect my twerk, but failed miserably. If I was a little braver, I would have been wearing a bikini too, but I do not and I have chronic cellulite, which nobody wants to see. What I’m trying to say is that me being covered up has nothing to do with me wanting to disassociate myself from the girls, it has more to do with my own insecurities and I just wanted to feel as comfortable as possible on the shoot day.
5. I’m not going to apologise because I think that would imply that I’m guilty of something, but I promise you this, in no way do I feel superior to anyone, except paedophiles, rapists murderers etc., and I would not only be surprised but deeply saddened if I thought anyone came away from that video feeling taken advantage of,or compromised in any way.
I call bulls*it.
As Allen sings, “Don’t need to shake my ass for you/‘Cause I’ve got a brain,” the camera cuts to the twerking, half-naked Black women around her as if to say, “I’m better than this.” Her sneering antagonism is barely hidden. The entire facade comes crumbling down as she directs Black women to perform the very same actions that she claims to be too talented and intelligent to engage in. She’s laughing at them, not with them, and her condescension is clear.
Once again, Black women are being offered as sacrifices to capitalism and misogyny. It makes little difference that the perpetrator is a White woman, the intent and the outcome is still the same.
Watch “Hard Out Here” below:
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