Oh my god. OH MY GOD. Please, I’m begging you all, take a minute out of your day and watch J-Lo’s new video, even if you’re one of those people that hasn’t even heard about her in such a long time that you’re under the impression that she’s still the "–nnifer" part of the once infamous Bennifer. If you have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about, good, because I’m so excited I’m pretty sure I’m babbling. The point is that Jenny is back and she’s out for blood. Specifically, the blood of the men in the music industry that apparently have only heard of one treatment for a music video, which of course is one rife with women used as mere decorations, draped over the laps of dudes that smirk into the camera with a look that screams “You already know,” as his lady-turned-throw-pillow bends over to shake her ass and everything else in his face. Just, no.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with scantily clad women proudly parading their bodies around in music videos, or anywhere else for that matter, as long as those women-- the ones we disgustingly refer to as “video girls” rather than their true title (professionally employed dancers and video extras)- -have agency, and aren’t presented as objects that should be panted over.
The lack of wide-spread criticism for videos like these-- ones that often feature women naked or half-naked, women dancing suggestively, or women portrayed as one dimensional sex machines-- is surprising to me. I’ve never actually heard one of these ladies say, to Rick Ross for example, “You realize that every single one of your videos is virtually the same and you look like an uninventive idiot that is only capable of throwing a few greased up girls in lingerie into each shot, while you dare to call yourself an 'artist?'” (May or may not have dreamt of that moment repeatedly).
And with that said, I’m not blaming anyone for not doing this previously, because we know that men control a majority of the media, and the male-gaze (unfortunately) rules. But check out Jen's response to her male colleagues in the video below for "I Luh Ya Papi."
One of my favorite lines in this video comes from the start, where one of the women says “Dave, if she was a guy, we wouldn’t be having this conversation at all. Why do men objectify women in every single video? Like, why can’t we, for once, objectify the men?” It was not what I was expecting at all, and when I heard the line come out of her mouth, my already gaping jaw hit the floor. The only thing keeping me from shooting out of my seat and into the stratosphere was the caps-locked email I sent to my co-workers, cyber-shrieking about how awesome this was.
Possibly more amazing than the fact that J-Lo and her collaborators actually call out dude musicians directly rather than being general about their disdain, is how Jennifer manages to nail down every single aspect of the videos she and her crew hate: the video opens with her sitting with her legs spread, arms on her thighs in a power position, staring the camera down, then cuts to another subversive shot in which she’s throwing on her chains, fully clothed, as a man stands in her shower in his underwear (let's be real though if it was a girl she would be totes naked).
The second shot didn’t even faze me at first, until I had watched the video a few times and it really hit me hard: in every scene of the video, even blurred in the background, there are nearly naked men. How many videos have I watched with the same amount of naked women? Have I really become that blind to the gross over-sexualization of ladies in music videos? At this point, I think the answer might be yes, and that makes me really sad. But on the bright side, J-Lo kills it here, and at the very least, it could be the beginning of a second wave of something Ciara tried to start back in the day with her gender-bending video for “Like A Boy.” Meanwhile, I’ll be out here, fist pumping my way into a less objectified tomorrow, if you’d care to join me.