The argument of Oppression vs. Empowerment has been around now more so than ever, as many have opposed the modern form of women’s liberation in which women simply don’t give an f about what others think, and do as they please. This week, the debate sprung up again when Rapper Cardi B released her latest music video to her song ‘Twerk’, which features and women-only cast- all of which were dancing and ‘twerking’ in bikinis and minimal clothing. Critics quickly rushed to question whether the video, and many others like it, supports the me too movement- a movement which outs the many abusers in Hollywood and across the world with the hashtag #metoo.
What wasn’t so highly publicised, was the fact that music duo City Girls, (who collaborated on the song with Cardi B) and their team hand picked each woman to be in the music video. This was carried out through an online challenge, in which women across the world uploaded videos of themselves twerking for a chance to be featured in the video and win $25,000; In short- these women chose and competed for the chance to win this exposure.
Whilst there was once a time where photographers, videographers and men across the world, took advantage of capturing the female form in all its glory for their own financial gains- in modern society, its more common to now witness women themselves profiting off of the male gaze, and utilising the fact that men feel entitled to see women’s nakedness and the demand for it isn’t likely to stop any time soon. These women are profiting off of their own bodies, and this makes people mad; the people who feel as if this is the opposite of feminism, have completely missed the point of what feminism is all about- liberation against systematic inequalities and choice.
There is zero correlation between a women wanting justice for the abuse she endured, at the hands of a man who society insists on protecting- and a woman wanting to express herself sexually in a comfortable space, the same way that men have always been allowed to do so. Were people as outraged with Magic Mike as they were with this music video? Most likely not- because women are expected to shelter their bodies in opposition to the men who desire to see them, rather than capitalising off of these desires.
Feminism is about giving women choice- some women choose to dress conservatively because that’s what makes them comfortable, and some choose to feature in music videos, twerking in as little clothes as they desire to wear because that makes them comfortable; there is no right or wrong option. If anything, it’s completely un-feminist to expect all women to conform to your idea of how a woman should behave, simply because such way makes you feel most comfortable.
The concept that a women isn’t allowed to flaunt and show off her body in whichever way she pleases, only fuels a distorted idea of rape culture, and that it is someone how a woman’s fault for inviting abuse. As Cardi B said in response, the way that a woman chooses to carry herself and the clothes that she chooses to wear, does not mean she deserves to be at the hands of an abuser. Period.