Friday, February 8, 2008

Feminism, Or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Club Music

Feminist political activists have been concerned with issues such as a woman's right of contract and property, a woman's right to bodily integrity and autonomy (especially on matters such as reproductive rights, including the right to abortion, access to contraception and quality prenatal care); for protection from domestic violence; against sexual harassment and rape; for workplace rights, including maternity leave and equal pay; and against other forms of discrimination.


I was looking over there at my list. You know the one - up in the top corner. Starts off "woman, wife, mother..." These are the labels I apply to my life. A few of them I was born with or was given without option. Others I chose to apply to myself. Some of them are as much a part of me as my name; others are more fluid, likely to change.

One label that I've put upon myself is that of "feminist." It's up there - right between "liberal" and "Democrat."

The word "feminist" conjures different images for different people. My mother might tell me a feminist was a woman who read W Magazine, worshipped Gloria Steinem and burned her bra. I think "feminist," for me, simply means supporting women's rights, responsibilities and endeavours. I think it's entirely too politicized; just because I call myself a feminist doesn't mean I burn Phyllis Schlafly in effigy (though it's tempting...) and please, don't get me started on Ann Coulter. (Revoke women's right to vote? Are you nuts??)

However, the reason I'm writing about this particular label, or issue, is because I fell in love with a song. It was innocent enough; I was flipping channels and I heard a snippet on VH1 of a video by Flo Rida and T-Pain. The song is called "Low."

Confession time: I'm a dancer. Not really...I love to go to a club and dance my ass off. Give me a few appletinis and some diggety grooves, and you have Fun Kate. Toss a pair of boot cut jeans on my hips, a cute top that accentuates the twins, and a pair of fun shoes (high heel boots in the winter, party heels or sparkly flip flops in the summer) and you have Club Girl Kate. CGKate only comes out to play every now and again; Real World Kate has a kid and a husband, and so she only lets CGKate loose on rare occasions. About once a year, usually.

Now - it's been a long long LONG time since I last went out on the town (it was actually last summer for Jordana's bachelorette party - and maaaaaaan was that a fun night...) So...this particular song, paired with the pix from the Mayercraft Carrier of JM buying Patron shots for a couple dozen lucky fans at the ship disco... makes me wanna go out!

So what do these things have to do with each other?

Rap and hip-hop music have often spoken of women in negative images; they are very often unnecessarily vulgar and misogynistic. I am a sucker for a catchy beat though, and can put up with a certain limit without feeling like I'm betraying my grrrls. I think rappers are generally concerned with putting out product people will buy. From what I've been told, the hip-hop crowd is fickle, and today's #1 is tomorrow's has-been. You make your money and move on.

So. "Low." The beat hooked me - the song's got a serious club groove. The other thing I love about it is there's no swear words. Plenty of urban-speak, but that's expected. However, I looked up the lyrics, then went to the Urban Dictionary and started looking up some of the terms...and decided some analysis was in order.

In the song, Flo and T talk about a "shawty," or woman, who is wearing Apple Bottom jeans and fur-trimmed boots, doing a booty-slapping dance and getting "low." In rap-speak, "gettin' low" means one of two things: getting low to the ground, as in a serious bump-n-grind, or having sex with multiple partners. From the rest of the lyrics, it sounds like she's holding herself out as a stripper/prostitute, and Flo pays for her services, and is satisfied. it anti-feminist of me to get my groove on to a song that celebrates prostitution? I don't know - I don't think so. Ultimately, if a woman isn't a sex slave, or actively chooses to engage in the behavior described in the song, the song isn't necessarily misogynistic. I've certainly gotten down on the dance floor, and while I have no personal experience or interest in prostitution, I know that when I'm dancing in a club, under the dark lights and a bass beat ripping through my chest, slightly hazy on alcohol and a hundred sweaty bodies moving every which way around me, I feel sexy. And there's nothing more feminist than a sexy and empowered woman.

Despite some of the lyrics, I'm going to chalk it up to a good club/workout song, and visualize myself on the Mayercraft next year in a pair of size 14 Apple Bottoms, shooting Patron and dancing my ass off til sunrise.

Check it out, and choose for yourself.

Shawty had them Apple Bottom Jeans, Boots with the fur
The whole club was lookin at her
She hit the flo, Next thing you know
Shawty got low low low low low low low low
Them baggy sweat pants and the Reeboks with the straps
She turned around and gave that big booty a smack
She hit the flo, Next thing you know
Shawty got low low low low low low low low

I ain't never seen nuthin' that'll make me go this crazy all night spendin my dough
Had a million dollar vibe and a bottle to go
Dem birthday cakes, they stole the show
So sexual, she was flexible, professional, drinkin X and O
Hold up wait a minute, do i see what I think I whoa
Did I think I seen shorty get low
Ain't the same when it's up that close
Make it rain, I'm makin it snow
Work the pole, I got the bank roll
Imma say that I prefer them no clothes
I'm into that, I love women exposed
She threw it back at me, I gave her more
Cash ain't a problem, I know where it goes

Hey, Shawty what I gotta do to get you home
My jeans full of gwap and they ready for Shones
Cadillacs Maybachs for the sexy groan
Patron on the rocks that'll make you moan
One stack (come on), two stacks (come on)
Three stacks (come on, now that's three grand)
What you think I'm playin baby girl
I'm the man, I'll bend the rubber bands
That's what I told her, her legs on my shoulder
I knew it was ova, that Henny and Cola got me like a soldier
She ready for Rover, I couldn't control her
So lucky me, I was just like a clover, Shorty was hot like a toaster
Sorry but I had to fold her, like a pornography poster she showed her

Whoa shawty, yea she was worth the money
Lil mama took my cash, and I ain't want it back
The way she bit that rag, got her them paper stacks
Tattoo of bubba cray, I had to handle that
I was on it, sexy woman, let me showin
They be want it two in the mornin
I'm zonin in them rose' bottles foamin
She wouldn't stop, made it drop Shawty did that pop and lock,
Had to break her off that gwap, it was fly just like my glock

Apple Bottom Jeans, boots with the fur
The whole club was lookin at her
She hit the flo, next thing you know
Shawty got low low low low low low low low
Them baggy sweat pants and the Reeboks with the straps
She turned around and gave that big booty a smack
She hit the flo, next thing you know
Shawty got low low low low low low low low


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