Why hello there metaphorical bandwagon, I’ve been expecting you. Let me just hope on there and we’ll go for a trip.
So yes, I’m going to write my 2 cents of Lily Allen’s new video. I’m not going to go through whether I think it’s good or bad for feminism, nor am I going to discuss if it’s racist or not – there’s plenty on the internet about that, so if you are looking for articles relating to those topics, go ahead and click that back button. What I want to talk about is our (over) reactions to Allen’s self-expression. Not that the points and criticisms aren’t valid, as a matter of fact I agree that the video and song is problematic, for so many reasons. But, in the spirit of feminism, I want to just call attention to what our over-criticisms may be actually doing.
Firstly, the woman is just that: a woman. She is human, she is not infallible, she makes mistakes – it’s not the end of the world.
Secondly, Allen does not speak for all of feminism, nor just she speak for all women in general. Nor does she seem to attempt to. Sure, a lot of women can relate to what she’s saying in many of her lyrics (even if part of what she says is problematic) but it is her specific world view based on her specific life experiences.
Thirdly, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to educate somebody. But let’s do it constructively and calm down with the berating. By attacking her so much we only contribute to the oppression of women by not allowing them freedom to move and speak as they see fit. And perhaps (just putting this out there) that backing her into a corner in which she may become defensive rather than open up to learning new things is not the best approach.
So bearing that in mind, I’m going to discuss a few things that I like about the song and video.
Lily Allen very cleverly reclaims a lot of patriarchal language. She repeats “bitch” so that she takes ownership of the language and distorts it so much that it becomes a powerful tool. She also plays around with the imagery of “growing a pair” when she substitutes balls for tits. Again, she inverts patriarchal language to reclaim the words and their meanings.
She also very cleverly, and with her usual bluntness, discusses the objectification of women, the sexism in the media industry, the fallacy that is in circulation that sexism doesn’t still exist, the concept of the glass ceiling and her attempt to break it and make money in doing so. There are a lot of really good things going on here.
Plus, it’s super catchy.