Is J-Lo cracking sexist stereotypes?

Last updated 14:28 18/03/2014
jennifer lopez

ON TREND: Lopez and her entourage flip the switch on the usual female objectification - to a point.

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Ever since Beyonce became a crack feminist, sampling a feminist activist's TED talk and writing open letters about pay inequality, other mainstream stars have been jumping on the bandwagon.

In fact just this week Katy Perry retracted an earlier statement she'd made on the subject and proclaimed she was now an out-and-proud feminist too.

So, it makes sense that fashion-focused Jennifer Lopez wanted to get in on the trend for her latest film clip.

In the video for her single  'I Luh Ya Papi' Lopez, and her entourage, purposefully flip the switch on the usual female objectification you see in video clips - Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines is a good example, fully clothed man, near naked, writhing women existing for his pleasure - and instead it's Lopez and her ladies enjoying a little objectification.

The video starts with a (white, male, old-ish) music executive pitching the trio ideas for the video clip, and the ladies aren't having any of it.

"If she was a dude, they would seriously have her up in a mansion with all these half-naked girls or maybe even in a yacht," J-Lo's backup dancers tell the executive. "Why do the men always objectify the women?"

Yeah, why do they?

Then J-Lo's ladies imagine a video that begins with the pop star "on the bed with a bunch of naked guys for no reason".

And off we go, on a luxury yacht Lopez and her back up enjoy a whole lot of man candy, extraordinarily buff men in budgie smugglers exist for their pleasure, and also later to wash their cars. 

It's kind of funny, a bit awkward and while the song is about loving her man, J-Lo's explicit calling out of sexism in an industry that she has long been a part of, at least attempts to send a good message, if about a topic that has been done to death - women objectified in video clips.

However as the Huffington Post points out, when the rapper French Montana comes on, he gets the power back and we're kind of back where we started.

"With the entrance of a powerful male character, the scripts are immediately flipped back to normal, as J-Lo's backup dancers stop calling the shots, and are instead put into bikini tops and used as furniture. While men scrubbing down their abs and using their butts to wash J-Lo's car seem absurd, women of color clad in animal-print outfits doing a sexy dance around a fully-clothed male artist just look like more of the same."

So it's not perfect, and it probably won't change the music industry. 

As Elizabeth Plank points out in Policy Mic:

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"J-Lo's intention may have certainly been honorable, but is she really flipping the script? In the end, what does her video actually do? It treats men in the same old sexist way and it doesn't even do it consistently. The male rapper in the clip still gets to perform fully-dressed while backup dancers prance around him."

As Plank points out, to really change stereotypes you need to think differently. But at least pushing back is a start. And J-Lo is a powerful woman to have on your team. 

- Daily Life

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