Lily Allen’s It’s Hard Out Here For a Bitch is blowing up the internet, with some declaring it a “welcome antidote to much of what’s out there” and others more accurately noting that “this video is bullshit.” Lily Allen’s video fails at intersectionality, for sure, but it’s also worth mentioning that she’s also not the first pop or hip-hop artist to make a music video with a “feminist” message that criticized or parodied the music industry (nor is she the first to do so poorly, like Jewel’s “Intuition“). Lots of popular female musical artists have made tunes that aim to smash brutal dichotomies, expose the patriarchy, comment on the portrayal of women in the media and challenge double standards of behavior for men and women. Here are ten others we like better — what are your favorites?
10 Music Videos That Mock, Critique, Satirize or SMASH This Sexist World We Live In
Missy Elliot “She’s a Bitch” (1999)
As described by Dallas via The Black Youth Project: “We could spend hours unpacking the sexual and racial implications of the visuals and lyrical content here. I’ll save that for another blog. Let it suffice to say that everything from the color palette and costume design to the cinematography and incredible beat make “She’s A Bitch” Missy’s widely slept-on masterpiece. Criminally underrated.”
Jessie J, “Do It Like a Dude” (2010)
Jessie J parodies aggressive masculinity with a racially diverse group of dirt-stained studs and butches posturing with ecstatic, biting aggression, in a scene that drips with sex and unapologetic masculinity — independent from its context as “a world that describes men.”
TLC, “Hat 2 Da Back” (1992)
So you gettin’ back to this dude wit’ the foul attitude / Shoot he made another bad move sayin’ that / Girls shouldn’t wear baseball caps he can go take a hike / Cause it’s the style I like yeah it’s a trip.
India.Arie “Video” (2001)
I’m not the average girl from your video / My worth is not determined by the price of my clothes / No matter what I’m wearing I will always be the India.Arie.
Lady Sovereign “So Human” (2009)
Queer rapper Lady Sovereign’s “So Human” is basically about Lady Sovereign having a shitty day, but the music video places the narrative in Sovereign’s feelings that she needs to look or act a certain way as a public figure or is being evaluated compared to normative feminine stanadards.
Alexandra Burke “Broken Heels” (2009)
Alexandra Burke told The Daily Mail, “I wanted to make sure this video was different and I wanted to make sure it wasn’t a load of girls who are, in the press’s eyes, perfect. I have some plus-sized girls in there. They are hot too.”
Pink “Don’t Let Me Get Me” (2001)
LA Told me you’ll be a pop star / all you have to change is everything you are / Tired of being compared / to damn Britney Spears / she’s so pretty / that just ain’t me
Salt-n-Pepa “Ain’t Nuthin’ But A She Thing” (1995)
All proceeds from the “Ain’t Nuthin But a She Thing” album, which also featured music by Vanessa Williams and Queen Latifah, went to The Shirley Divers Foundtaion for Women.
The lyrics were a far cry from Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg’s 1993 track “Ain’t Nuthin’ But a G Thing,” boasting: “The thing that makes me mad and crazy, upset / Got to break my neck just to get my respect / Go to work and get paid less than a man / When I’m doin’ the same damn thing that he can / When I’m aggressive then I’m a bitch / When I got attitude you call me a witch / Treat me like a sex-object (That ain’t smooth) / Underestimate the mind, oh yeah, you’re a fool.”
Christina Aguilera & Lil Kim, “Can’t Hold Us Down” (2003)
This always comes to mind when discussing gender-dichotomy-challenging empowering feminist pop music, with lines like – “Here’s something I just can’t understand / If the guy have three girls then he’s the man / He can either give us some head, sex a roar / If the girl do the same, then she’s a whore / But the table’s about to turn / I’ll bet my fame on it / Cats take my ideas and put their name on it It’s airight though, you can’t hold me down / I got to keep on movin'” But not everybody agrees that the video, directed by gay white male photographer David LaChapelle, really does the song or the message non-problematic justice.)
Janelle Monae & Erykah Badu, “Q.U.E.E.N.” (2013)
As it was written on portable.tv: “Monáe takes us back to the very grassroots concerns of feminism; basic acceptance and equality in sexuality, and this time not just at the virtue of men, but by the hand of society and its various religions.”
Queen Latifah, “U.N.I.T.Y.” (1994)
Instinct leads me to another flow / Everytime I hear a brother call a girl a bitch or a hoe / Trying to make a sister feel low / You know all of that gots to go
Gawd I miss Missy Elliott. She got me through high school.
I bought the full Ain’t Nuthin’ But A She Thing album used from the thrift store expecting a pretty predictable girl power late 90s thing, but man is it all over the place in a cool way. Would recommend a listen. But man, the Melissa Etheridge cover of Joan Armatrading’s “The Weakness in Me” gets on my nerves. Both are fantastic, why did we have to have one cover the other’s song? Why not a track from both?
I guess what I’m trying to say is I freaking love Joan Armatrading, guys. And I’ve had a couple. Nice list!
Q.U.E.E.N. is amazing! I listen to it all the time.
I feel like the Blue Crush cabin cheer really fits this article: Blue Crush, Orange Crush, We’ll crush the patriarchy!!
Man i havent heard “Can’t Hold Us Down” in such a long time! Stay strong ladies
Queen Latifah – U.N.I.T.Y. was my jam when it came out, and the video brings back some nice memories of the days when MTV’s still played music, and Road Rules was still on season 1.
Man I’d forgotten about Missy Elliot! I used the be obsessed.
This Blurred Lines parody is still one of my faves (NSFW): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pt840ApHB-s
Don’t mind me, just bowing down to the Awesome post-getting-my-jam-on.
but Bjork’s All is Full of Love rejects both patriarchy and your alternative bonus retexture of it… :P
That said – thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you for Missy Eliott and guessing my favourite song of hers
Um… comment x2
I’m actually listening to Missy right now. Damn I miss the 90s.. sigh.
so much power and win in one post
Make that eleven: https://vimeo.com/56202514