Monday, July 6, 2009

Shakira caves to Sexism

Shakira has sold out.

Her latest album features "Britney-like" computer voice and sound. It's even worse than I just made that sound. But that does not bother me, I don't really care much what Shakira sounds like (though in my opinion her first album - and even more so her Spanish music - is quite good). The problem is deeper.

Shakira also is said to be deliberately posing like Beyonce - not exactly a role model for young ladies. But again, that is not even the issue. If a woman wishes to pose in this manner I shall not say anything about her personal choice.

So what is the problem? As you probably guessed, it's this picture of Shakira, practically naked - what is covering her seems painted on! - IN A CAGE!!

A virtually naked woman in a seductive pose caged like an animal. This reeks of blatant misogyny! It can only mean one thing: "Women are property; they are less than fully human. We may, therefore, do what we wish to these "lower beings" who apparently only exist to satisfy our lust and who are therefore locked in a cage the rest of the time!"

This is really appalling!

Sadly, the woman in this cage - Shakira - has not only produced music that actually has depth and quality, but also has an IQ of 140 and takes college courses whenever she can.

Don't get me wrong. Shakira is gorgeous. She has a lovely body and I think she should own that. But this picture is NOT owning that. This is exploitation of female sexuality to sell albums. That a woman of intelligence, depth, and talent feels she must engage in this kind of stunt is truly very sad.

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  1. I wish to respond to the idea that the cage is absolutely exploitative since it sound like MacKinnon and Dworkin when they claim women couldn't willfully choose to get... Read More into porn or what have you. You wouldn't claim it was exploitative if she had full creative control, would you? MacDworkinites tend to diminish women in their cause to protect them and do so by making contentious claims about the nature of sex and sexuality. I tend to favor Justice William O Douglas who noted that would be censors are often driven by their own neuroses. And if you read enough MacKinnon it is clear she has a very cynical and skewed view when it comes to women's sexuality.

  2. I don't agree with MacKinnon and Dworkin at all. I don't have a problem with a woman wearing provocative clothing, and being flirty or sexual. Sometimes, I'm told - and it's probably true - this is empowering, and probably good honest fun.

    The skimpy outfit is not the problem. It's the cage. Now, I don't claim women don't willful do this, or ... Read Moreenter porn, or anything like that! They do. I don't claim that this stuff should be censored either, censorship scares me! Only that it reflects a certain attitude toward women, that that attitude is wrong, and that we need to try to change it.

    Again, its principally the cage motif I am criticizing

  3. just to add,

    I agree with you. It cannot be censored. I should clarify. I don't want to censor this image, I'm just lamenting it. And the problem is not her being sexual or sexy - that would be fine, and hot! What disturbs me is that she is portrayed as an animal in a cage. But even then, I would not censor it.

  4. Is she an animal in a cage, or a hot woman in a cage. I am sympathetic that many men who are aroused by such images are due to the objectifying or dehumanizing nature of them, yet at the same time I think women can grab hold of the idioms used in culture and wield them. Just as homosexuals can reappropriate "queer" and minorities "nigga," so women can own their sexuality and use them to their benefit. I think to claim any image in itself, regardless of context... is exploitative or what have you is to misunderstand the nature of discourses, how symbols are used, how we as symbol users can manipulate them and thus our environment and so forth. I jsut have a problem with the absolutism that seems to imply there is one message or meaning to the photo and it is bad so it is inherently, in itself lamentable. Perhaps I am too postmodern to see communication as that clear cut.

  5. That's a fine point! I should temper the absolutism. It seems to me IN THIS CASE we have an exploitative photo, but indeed a woman could use such a photo to be Ironic, satirical, empowering, etc ... it does depend on context.

  6. A couple of thoughts Matt...

    1. When has Shakira NOT exploited her sexuality?
    2. I would be willing to assume that despite her overt "hotness" and willingness to flaunt her body, the majority of her consumers are probably still women. So why would the record label feel compelled to force this image upon her? Maybe it was her decision?
    ... Read More
    Again, just some thoughts. I don't necessarily see this as "jumping the shark"

  7. Robert,

    All good points. I'll respond. 1) Shakira has always been expressive in a sexual way - but I don't see that as necessarily exploiting her sexuality, it could be a legitmate expression of it. 2. Yes, I suppose she was not forced into it at all. But, I do question a world where women are still presented in this way or feel a need to express ... Read Morethemselves this way. Don't get me wrong, I do not think revealing outfits and overt sexuality is necessarily bad or necessarily exploiting women - but this "in a cage" deal, that cannot be anything but exploitation.

    Is Shakira really jumping the shark? Perhaps not. Perhaps she has always been such a figure - in fact I'm sure to some degree she has - but to this level! I find that a bit shocking of any woman!

  8. I think all of you are not taking CONTEXT into account.

    1) The song is called "She Wolf"
    2) The image is from the music video
    3) The music video is about Shakira dancing at the disco, whilst transforming into a werewolf

    The image is simply saying, don't fall for her looks/appeal, because she's a wolf.

  9. This has definitely gone out of the correct context.
    1) as the previous poster says.. the title is "she-wolf" who wants to be free and do whatever she wants- therefore, she technically is in a daily cage and wants to be free.

    2) Shakira has always been open about her life and at the same time has lived a quite exemplary life where gossip or dating different men every night like Mrs Spears does is not the center, she has been dating the same man for over 9 years and has never been involved in any sexual escandals at any given time at all.

    3) About the outfit, she is certainly in any sexual position and if you go to the beach or even the mall, etc, you'll see women even worse, any type of sexual connotation would depend on the person who looks at it.

    4)Shakira alsways produces and makes the decisions about her career, and she, as every human, has the full right to change her normal ways in order to enjoy life... don't you think that if her priority was to become a sex object she would've done it when she was 20 or so instead of 32? remember that many of the so-called pop divas nowadays are starting a very sexual life at early ages, Shakira does not need that.

    5) Shakira is at an age where her sexuality is not a priority and she has a man to live it with... therefore whoever sees taht as wrong-doing should understand that she's mature enough to do as she pleases, we should all congratulate her for always bringing something different to the table, she always makes us wonder what she'll give the audience... so I would say, EXCELLENT JOB SHAKIRA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Wow, far more comments on this than I thought. I certainly would never say Shakira has no right to do this. She can do what she wishes, she is a grown woman. My complaint was not that she should not, but that it was a sexist image and I was sorry to see her embrace it. I would not censor it, nor would I presume that she could not do it.

    However, I find some of the comments about context very interesting. Perhaps I misread the imagery, maybe it does not mean what I first thought. For instance, maybe it is meant to convey exactly what some of you say .. .that she is a "she-wolf" yearning for freedom.

    I think it's at least possible.

    On a different note, I have always liked her music, but not this single I hope it's just an aberration and her new album is generally good, which it probably will be.

  11. "An IQ of 140 and takes college courses whenever she can"

    There's your clue.

    She just has a business Brain and knows what sells in America, Sex.

    although the real reason is probably that women at the ago of ~32 (same as shakira) subconsciously want to look as sexually appealing as possible. Science has found that women are at their "sexual peak, most horny" at the age of something like 30-35...

    It's all natural, she's just become comfortable with showing a bit more skin/body shape and I like it!!

  12. Don't get me wrong, I like her body too. She's gorgeous. Healthy sexual expression is a fine thing. And there is nothing wrong with appreciating her beauty. It was always the cage motif that I was perturbed by .. although as many comments her note, it posible I misread that.

  13. I do believe as well the reason for the cage is because she wants to be free. She gave an interview and someone translated it for me where she explained that many women are trapped by routine and by jealous men, and that she felt she needed to let herself free through this song. That's why she pictured herself in a cage.

  14. Thanks JC. Do you have a link to that interview? I'd like to read it.

  15. I don't agree with your Shakira criticism. She looks great and why shouldn't she use her sexuality? Being photographed in a cage has nothing to do with not being independet and strong. Sending a wrong message? Only stupid women are really influenced by media. If you know your worth nothing can influence you. Shakira is a great role model. She's smart, dilligent, creative and successful. I'm tired of boring feminsts who don't deal with actual problems like financial dependence of women, lack of education and wrong choice of partners.

  16. i agree with you. but i think you should not blame her. is the industry´s blame. With her good old music she would never make it in the usa.


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