Friday, March 16, 2012

JT and Timbaland will feed your sexual appetite

It seems that we live in a society that will only accept extreme views of men and women. There is the young virgin who is a prude and then there is the hyper-sexualized slut. At the same time that we tell young women that they must wait for Prince Charming to ride in on his white horse, we show them music videos where scantily-clad females are props surrounding famous musicians. Recently, I watched this music video for "Carry Out" by Timbaland featuring Justin Timberlake.

The lyrics are pretty obvious. A man provides a ticket and a woman fulfills his order. He satisfies her appetite with foreplay, and she provides the dessert. I think what strikes me the most about this video is the comparison between an appetite for food and appetite for sex. Women are constantly caught in traps where they are not allowed to have appetites for food (why? well, they wouldn't want to get "fat" and become unattractive to male suitors), and women also face judgment for having sexual appetites. Based on the images that we receive in the media, it is only thin, beautiful, and white women that are allowed to have sex and talk about it with the assumption that they don't really eat to maintain their figures. When women are eating dessert in this music video, it is clear that they are doing this in a hyper-sexualized manner referencing oral sex.

While the video is encouraging a woman's sexual appetite, it is reinforcing the view that women only have that one appetite. What about her appetite for new experiences, travel, or love? These other aspects of female identity are missing, and young women easily learn that to feed a man's sexual appetite they need to provide the dessert. People have sex. It is a natural part of life, but it becomes problematic when women only have sex or are sexual objects.

A couple of other thoughts I'm thinking through on this music video:

-The history of hip-hop culture would provide some interesting commentary on this video. I read parts of this book, Check it while I wreck it: Black womanhood, hip-hop culture, and the public sphere, where author Gwendolyn D. Pough, makes some thought-provoking comments about female rappers who have used questionable messages from male rappers to create empowering lyrics and music videos.

-Also, Justin Timberlake is a repeat offender. The film Dreamworlds turns a critical eye to his video for "Cry Me a River" where he stalks a Britney Spears look-alike and breaks into her home because he can't get over a breakup. (creepy, I think yes!)

-Also, I think it's interesting to consider how race and gender intersect in this video. I'm taking a course in African American Women's literature that I absolutely love (!), and we have discussed the ways that historically black women have been hyper-sexualized and compared to animals. Consider this recent ad:

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