There has been a great amount of praise and criticism for a certain female artist’s recent voice in feminism. I’ll give you a hint—her name starts with a B and ends in yoncé and not everyone is in agreement that her actions, or lyrics, are in support of females. I am not going to argue for one side or the other (last I Googled there are more than 751,000 results for “Beyoncé feminism”), but I do think it is important to take note of the conversation she has largely added fire to in the music industry and beyond.
Another leading musical lady who has been around a bit longer than Queen B, is giving her own, less-publicized, say on gender equality. Last week, Jennifer Lopez released the music video for “I Luh You Papi”, a single off of her upcoming album. The video begins with J.Lo and two of her friends sitting with a record label agent who is suggesting music video ideas for the track. The ladies make laugh off most of his “treatments” (a carnival, a water park) before hitting Danny the record label agent with this: “If she was a guy, we wouldn’t be having this conversation at all.” Followed by, “Why do men always objectify the women in every single video? Why can’t we, for once, objectify the men?”
Cut to Jennifer on a bed in a mansion, wearing an outfit very similar to her infamous 2000 Grammy’s Versace dress, with at least four tanned men in Speedos passed out around her. She saunters away from the bed, paying no attention to the bronzed men, and into the bathroom where she layers herself with chain jewelry all while ignoring yet another man showering behind her.
With lyrics like, No brakes, go green, no red. If you wanna kill the body, gotta start with the head. Put it on you, I’mma need about 4-5 beds, J Lo’s song seems to give a bit more playful ownership of her desires and her body than Beyoncés, Take all of me, I just wanna be the girl you like from “Partition.” The videos for the two songs are also quite different. “I Luh You Papi” maintains its playfulness while still addressing the clichés we’re used to seeing in music videos, whereas Beyoncé does and wears (or, well, doesn’t) whatever she wants in the “Paritition” video that features a mostly faceless Jay-Z who is presumably responsible for popping all her buttons and tearing her blouse.
My personal favorite scene from the J.Lo video is the car wash held in her driveway. As a former high school cheerleader, I dreaded some of the men who would come through the car washes we held to earn money for competitions. Occasionally they took photos (J.Lo covers this, too, when she and her girlfriends look at one of the men through the screen of her iPad as he approaches rather than directly at him) and rarely did they hide their leering glances. In the “I Luh You Papi” video, J Lo sips on a soda as she watches the shirtless men soak their chests in soapy water and rub their butts on one of her three cars headlights.
Can I say boom again?
While I think arguments that someone’s attire (or lack thereof), sexual desires, or marriage status implies their level of “true” feminism are completely unjust, I do believe J.Lo delves into the objectification of women in a more straight-forward manner than Beyoncé. Unquestionably, J.Lo has succeeded in adding another artifact to the growing discussion of feminism in pop culture with “I Luh You Papi.”
Feminism is fundamentally about equality. It can’t be achieved if no one is talking about it and Hollywood seems to be a common place to give fire to a point or movement in our culture. I would just venture to say I prefer listening and watching J.Lo’s version of things.