I’m obligated to talk about Lily’s Allen’s new song, “Hard Out Here,” which purposefully takes a feminist stand, but has been met with mixed feelings by feminist bloggers and scholars. If you haven’t heard the song, or more importantly seen the video, you should definitely check it out.
I want to start out by saying it’s ridiculous that feminists would condemn this song. The same people that are so militant about solidarity are the ones saying Allen hasn’t done a good enough job speaking out about it being “hard out here for a bitch.” She’s achieving the most important thing for the movement: awareness of the fact that there is a problem.
The feminist critique has targeted the meta-ness of the work. It’s quite tricky to pinpoint how much the ass-shaking background dancers are satirical or not. There is certainly a level of sarcasm involved, as she’s singing about the pressures women face about body image and not being respected for our minds. However, was the fact that all the background dancers were black satirical? That’s generally the way it goes in the pop scene, but she makes no specific note of that in the song. So, did she fall victim to the gender and race stereotypes that she was supposedly speaking out against? It’s hard to tell.
There’s also the fact that, whatever she is singing about, there are still half-naked butts, dripping with champagne that, to be blunt, looks an awful lot like semen. Perhaps some of her words are lost somewhere in the depths of those ass cracks. That goes against everything she’s talking about in the song. It could very well be that it’s all completely satirical; the shaking asses are wholly sarcastic. They are there to demonstrate what society pressures us women to do. But, does that change the fact that they’re still doing it?
The most likely reason that she utilized these images wasn’t for the sarcasm, though she was probably aware of it. It was most likely because that’s what sells right now. The reason her voice is heard and being talked about all over the Internet, and not the thousands of other women rights activists’, is because she’s playing the game of our capitalist market. Consumerism is feminisms worst enemy, but it’s widely known that sometimes we have to think like the enemy to defeat it. So, is it wrong?
I don’t really know the answers to these questions, as I don’t know Allen’s true intent and I don’t know how the effects of the video will play out. But, her message is still heard loud and clear. People are talking and that’s the best thing for a social movement. You also have to admit the song’s catchy.