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.
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.