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Kanye West: "Stronger"

Kayne West:

N-now th-th-that that don't kill me
Can only make me stronger

The above lyrics to "Stronger" is a widely held moral belief that what does not kill someone makes them stronger. They are admirable lyrics that perfectly coincide with the title of the song. Here's where things get hairy:

Let's get lost tonight
You can be my black Kate Moss tonight
Play secretary im the boss tonight.

Why do the producers of this video use Cassie, who is a talented singer in her own right, represent the "black Kate Moss" Kanye is referring to in the lyrics? If you watch the video in it's entirety, Cassie, who is a gifted singer... is reduced to eye candy. Check out the latest cover of Complex Magazine.

Cassie in Complex Kanye on Complex

By the way, "Complex is a metropolitan men's style/lifestyle magazine founded by Marc Ecko in 2002. The publication offers mainstream readers insight into the latest trends in urban America's niche cultures, such as streetwear, sneaker culture, hip hop, and graphic art." [link]

Complex always has two different covers. One cover is a male superstar and the other side is a female superstar. In the above magazine covers, Kanye's title reads, "Guest editor Kanye West talks style with T.I." while the other side of the magazine cover with Cassie reads, "Kanye West gets Cassie to Reveal all Inside".

What I am wondering is this... what exactly is so complex about a magazine that objectifies women and optimizes males? It's not complex at all; in fact, in feminism it's called patriarchy or male supremacy, if you will. Simple... not so complex... and happens frequently, often without repercussion.

Cassie is not utilized in this video or song as a singer, but merely as eye candy. Watch this video on how her body is used to sell his album:

Heard they'd do anything for a Klondike
Well I'd do anything for a blonde dyke
And she'll do anything for the limelight
And we'll do anything when the time's right
Ugh, baby you're makin' it
(Harder, better, faster, stronger)

And what is up with Kanye singing that he wants a "blonde dyke"? Blonde dyke could refer to many things, but most obviously... it's a slang term for the word lesbian. Supposedly, it has also been reappropriated to mean "assertiveness and toughness". If Kanye wants a Kate Moss and an assertive blonde woman, then why exactly does he exploit a multi-ethnic black woman instead of a white woman? Exploiting either woman would be just as sexist, but based on racial stratification (social power hierarchies) it would not be as acceptable to the American public.

How could this song / music video be feminist friendly and still maintain it’s pop appeal?

1. Kanye, the writers of the song, and the producers should focus more on the original message ... "stronger"... that whatever doesn't kill one makes them stronger. The addition of "blonde dykes" and a "black Kate Moss" are random attributes that merely reinforce sexism in pop media.

2. Utilizing a singer should not be about extracting "looks" alone, because Cassie has more to offer. She is a talented singer who, if Kanye and his associated wanted to, could have been utilized musically. She could have had a part to sing in the chorus, etc. If Cassie had a part to sing in the chorus, who is to say that the song would sell less records? Maybe Kanye would sell more records by connecting more with his female audience by portraying Cassie as a "singer".

3. The gender stereotype of a woman being a "secretary" and a man being "the boss" reinforces male supremacy in a patriarchal society. Reinforcing male supremacy is not necessary to sell records... it is a choice.

Hellsing review

Hey, femtique, I said I'd do this and I'm sorry it's belated, but better late than never, right?

Hellsing is a different kind of vampire story. It draws on a variety of pop culture to tell the story of the Hellsing Organization, a group founded by the man who slew Dracula and dedicated to protecting England from vampiric/demonic threats, mostly by hunting down and killing these vampires and their minions. The catch is, Dracula (Alucard) helps them do it.

Hellsing is a manga, an anime and an OVA. They're all a little different, so I'll try to touch on all of them. That said, this is cut for length.Collapse )

Kino's Journey

Kino's Journey

Episode after episode Kino is a heroine. At no point in this anime is she written to endure sexism. Many men whom she meets in her journey believe that they can assert their dominance on her and quickly find out they cannot. The women that Kino met during her journey were strong and independent women. One of characters invents an airplane in the world Kino lives in. This female engineer does not allow her fiance or any other male with political authority to stop her goal ... to fly. The women in Kino's Journey were, for the most part, not designated to gender roles established my patriarchy. Quite the contrary, the writer Keiichi Sigsawa, wrote a avant-garde seinen anime. The writer provided a television show that challenged gender roles and oppression in society.

The glorification of violence in this anime is a long time established patriarchal value, but because the focus was on a heroine, the reason behind the violence is questionable:

The use of violence and whether or not it can be justified is a recurring theme in Kino's Journey, from whether animals should be killed in order to sustain the life of others to whether an entire population should be destroyed in order to save two other civilizations. [link]

One might be able to categorize this anime as josei.

Carnival of the Feminists


Hi all! I am hosting the most recent "Carnival of the Feminists", check it out.

Death Note

Death Note

There are several female characters in the hit series "Death Note". The most prevalent character was Misa Amane "Misa Misa". Misa's character was shy, physically weak, submissive, and written to be emotionally and physically dominated by the main character, Yagami Light. There was not a single episode in which Misa was not "willingly" at the mercy of Light. Misa was frequently animated in sexually submissive poses that were intended to be readily enjoyed as eye-candy for every male character of Death Note that was sexually interested in her. At no point in the series did Misa refuse any male that sexually harassed her. In fact, she was portrayed to not only be sexually submissive, but was also substantially less intelligent than her male counterparts.

The second most prevalent female character was the Shinigami Rem. Rem's whole purpose in the show was to protect Misa. The relationship between Rem and Misa was that of solidarity. Their solidarity lasted until the middle of the storyline. Like Misa's role, Rem was more than willing to be a martyr. Rem died to protect Misa because she was tricked by Light. Rem's good intentions to protect Misa were ill founded, because Misa committed suicide after the death of Light.

The rest of the significant female characters had limited roles in which they either died or almost died at the hands of Yagami Light or another death note owner.

Feminist Fix

How could this anime be feminist friendly and still maintain it’s pop appeal?

1. The writers could have written Misa's role as woman who was not constantly being physically objectified, intellectually incompetent, and emotionally submissive. Instead of writing her as the "weaker" character, Misa could have been a heroine.

2. Instead of the show being a showdown of two male intellectuals, it could have been a showdown of two minds: one male and one female.

3. Both Rem and Misa were easily tricked by Light. The writers could have written the two main female roles in such as way as to have equally tricked the protagonist Light.

4. More female roles!! Most of the significant roles were reserved for males.

What Makes Media Feminist?

Original source: http://blog.lib.umn.edu/raim0007/gwss3307_summer07/2007/07/what_makes_media_feminist.html#more

The answer to this question is very completed on one level and very simple on another: the more simple answer is that any movie (or other form of media) that deliver or present feminist values and critiques racist, sexist, patriarchal and oppressive ways of thinking or practices. This relatively simple answer becomes more complex since there are many disagreement on what is “the feminist thing to do” in many cases, or what different feminism say on the same issue.

One such example can be the sex industry: Julia Query’s film Live Nude Girls Unite can be seen by a second wave feminists as a documentary that shows how oppressed women internalized their sexual oppression so much they are fighting for the right to continue be treated like sex-objects rather than whole and full human beings who deserve to maintain their physical and emotional dignity. A third-waver, on the other hand, may see this film as a documentary about women power and empowerment, and therefore a feminist film. Both of these views are feminist, and both have some valid point that are worthy of consideration. So is Live Nude Girls Unite a feminist film?

The answer has, like with any other media form (including written materials), three parts: what the author thinks or declare his intentions to be, what spectators (or the general public and scholars) think the media to be, and what a feminist analysis of the piece itself can reveal.

Some of the feminist filmmakers we encountered this semester include Katja Van Garner (Iron Jawed Angel), Faith Hubley (W.O.W), Grace Lee (Barrier Device), Cheryl Dunye (The Watermelon Woman), Kimberly Pierce (Boys Don’t Cry), Julia Query (Live Nude Girls Unite),
Aishah Simmons (No!), Lourdes Portillo (Senorita Extraviada) and Deepa Mehta (Fire, Earth, Water).

Of those media makers, Cheryl Dunye’s Hollywood career shows a feminist filmmaker can make non-feminist (and even crude and oppressive) films, while Deepa Mehta’s example show that a feminist filmmaker may refuse to call himself/herself a feminist but still produce feminist’ films or media.

The only website I am familiar with that has links to feminist media (besides being feminist in its own right) is http://www.feministing.com . This excellent site has daily commentaries on news around the world, contribution from many feminist-bloggers and Video-bloggers, and feminist flicker-films and merchandise.

I am sure there are many more feminist-media resources out there, and even in my notes from the various GWSS courses I took in the past years, but since I am using feministing.com almost daily that was the first (and unfortunately, only) source that jumped out to mind.

Original source: http://blog.lib.umn.edu/raim0007/gwss3307_summer07/2007/07/what_makes_media_feminist.html#more

Listening to the lyrics of the song is totally different from watching the video. Most of the video is empowering for women. Lil' Mama picks up Avril Lavigne in her shiny pink car. They both appear to be promoting sisterhood and solidarity. The video does not seem to match the lyrics of the song at all.

The music along is another matter entirely. When a love triangle is set up in pop media there always seems to be a "cat fight". On one end of the corner there is one woman who says she's better and can do more for "the man". On the other end of the ring there is a different woman that says she can do better for "the man". Instead of one woman saying it we've got two women saying it! The video appears to be promoting sisterhood, but in reality, it is used to disguise what the song is really about. The focus of this song is about how a woman wants a man to dump his girlfriend for her.

The potential lover might need some assistance in deciding which woman to pick. There are several examples laid out in the lyrics as to reasons why the other woman needs to be kicked to the curb. Mind you, they are not his reasons for dumping her -- they are another woman's reasons:

1. She is stupid.
So when's it gonna sink in
She's so stupid
What the hell were you thinking?!

2. She is less of a person.
She's like so whatever
You could do so much better

That is exactly what we women need. We need to convince men that other women are stupid and less of a person. Why in pop media are there so many women that do their men’s dirty work? If the guy is really thinking about two different women (or more) at once, why would the character Avril Lavigne and Lil’ Mama play be any different than the other women he’s interested in other than the fact that they like them and are princess-like?

Feminist Fix?

How could this song and video be feminist friendly and still maintain it's pop appeal?

1. Don't be condescending to women and call them "stupid" or "so whatever" suggesting a woman is trivial.

2. Show women working together to promote one another and not bringing each other down.

3. Change the focus of the song from the woman to the man. Do not make the entire song a woman-bashing song. For example, the lyrics could have focused more on how Avril and Lil' Mama are beautiful, intelligent, and talented. The only thing the song promoted for women was how she could "do it better" and that she's a "princess". A princess in what way? What exactly makes a princess? What qualities are attributed to princesses?


Hardball and Hillary's Cleavage

This is a truly sad situation.  On this episode of Hardball we see the mainstream media set up an all out woman to woman cat fight on air.  Blatant objectification of Hilary Clinton as nothing more than a woman with breasts on the senate floor is deplorable.  Women should be in an all out uproar about Hillary's representation on Hardball.  Naomi Wolf tried to get the media to focus in on the political issues; then again, that is what they had Melanie Morgan for.  They used Melanie as the loyal right-wing subject in a cleavage controversy.

Reappropriate follows up this blatant sexism against Hillary during the CNN / YouTube debate.



Hi :D I'm a linguistics student specialising in language and gender work. My interest is in scripted narrative and the ways in which it's supposed to represent natural spontaneous speech - like dialogue in films and TV, for example. Based on work I've already done, I've found that the established norms for gender and conversation still hold true in this scripted language. I find this fascinating. So far I've focused my work on Best in Show and Angels in America. And there's a lot more out there.


Rihanna Umbrella

Jay Z begins the song with a little intro jingle. In it, he brags about how his music company is making a lot of money, and how Rihanna is part of his "stacked chips" for a rainy day. In other words, just when people might have thought Jay Z slowed down on introducing new talent, he comes back on top of his game.