*Note: I won’t be discussing a lot about what the video specifically displays or what the song specifically states but instead will talk about the main content and backlash the video has received instead.*
It’s dreadfully easy to dismiss this video as females objectifying themselves, and there is no denying it. I was in an English lecture this morning and the lecturer had commented on his shock after seeing this video on the news, with a face of disgust. Comments below the video are as quoted (obviously the commentators’ names are removed)
“Fergie trying to say that this video “empowers women”. If anything, it does the complete utter opposite. It strengthens the argument that women are simply objects and if you aren’t as attractive as fergie you won’t be deemed attractive. Any oversexualised thing like this or Kim kardashian and Emily ratajkowski putting a photo of themselves topless on twitter is not empowering to women, it gets them in the limelight and sells their beauty.”
“Feminists say that men are disgusting, this video proves that some women just want sex, desperate virgins”
“So this is what my fellow women do in the name of female empowerment/liberation well done feminism, from voting rights to this.”
The video not only faces harsh criticism from the public, but the video itself has approximately 1/4 dislikes compared to the likes. And in all honesty, it’s not all that hard to see why.
“M.I.L.F. $” features a sexual innuendo in itself, the acronym spelling out: “Mom I’d Like to Fuck”, and displayed in all glory stunning celebrity mothers such as Kim Kardashian, Chrissy Teigan and Alessandria Ambrosio bearing their breasts, legs and bottoms with sexual clothing and poses leaving little to the imagination. Under no doubt, this video at first glance appears to be asking for hate. Boiling it.
Comments of ‘hyper-sexualised’ media, mothers not displaying gratuitous poses, Fergie attempting to break in her ‘failed music business’ with a distasteful image and even more so, how this video are one of the many examples of women in media erasing feminists’ work of dispelling the objectification of women.
I could go on about the social backlash Fergie has been thrashed relentlessly with, but this post is not only about that. This is about a more in depth analysis of what Fergie has created, not only a catchy tune which I self admittedly sing out loud but a philosophical discussion about how this video among other examples lights a spark on the discussion of assumptions about sexuality and how this criticism affects our modern society especially young women.
First of all, let’s break down why she has created the song. In the words of the songstress herself she states:
According to Fergie, it’s “about empowering women who do it all.”
“They have a career, a family, and still find the time to take care of themselves and feel sexy,” said the singer. “With a wink of course.”
Fergie is giving a voice, a shout out if you will- to all the mothers out there who feel sexy, but feel pressured not to show it due to the preconceived notion of the stereotypical mother being sensible, ‘prude’ and child friendly. A 41 year old mother challenging the long held idea of the role and characteristics associated with a mother in modern society. You can see where I’m going with this. Even other ‘Queens’ of pop have also been shamed for their sexuality, as shown when Beyonce released her self titled surprise album, “Beyonce”- in which songs such as “Drunk in Love” and “Partition” were criticized for being too sexual and ‘slutty’ despite both songs talking about her romantic and sexual love for her husband, even more heightened after becoming a mother. Kim Kardashian’s famous nude selfie was quickly spat at, with comments stating how she was a mother and shouldn’t be setting a bad role model for her kids. Chrissy Teigan was also met with backlash, with people arguing that she shouldn’t be going out to dinner with her husband John Legend, two weeks after giving birth to Luna despite the fact that Legend himself took her out to dinner as a romantic date. There is not a single doubt that the role of a mother is being constantly challenged in this day and age. Fergie is laying down a huge risk and debate with this song and she knows it.
It’s a dangerous cocktail, when Fergie decides to take control of her own body, presenting her sexuality to the world as any young female artist would do (see Selena Gomez and Rihanna- both amazing beautiful artists) in a confident manner instead of staying out of the public eye.
Other points raised outside the ‘abhorrent’ use of a mother to portray sexuality include hyper female sexualisation to encourage female objectification. Well here is another question.
How can women display themselves in a way that’s sexual and confident without automatically becoming associated with objectification?
Let’s say I feel hot as fuck with my tight dress and killer makeup, so I whip out my phone and take a selfie showing myself off to the world. People can comment things such as how I’m objectifying myself and that I need acceptance from the world and men on my looks, and why I’m so conceited to even take a photo of myself in the first place, therefore placing a value over my looks instead of picking up books and studies like ‘real feminism’. This is an extreme exaggeration on what women today face in terms of sexualisation. My muse Emily Ratajkowski talks about this in her Lenny essay, “Baby Woman” in which she states an important point which directly answers the question.
And what is that message exactly? The implication is that to be sexual is to be trashy because being sexy means playing into men’s desires. To me, “sexy” is a kind of beauty, a kind of self-expression, one that is to be celebrated, one that is wonderfully female. Why does the implication have to be that sex is a thing men get to take from women and women give up? Most adolescent women are introduced to “sexy” women through porn or Photoshopped images of celebrities. Is that the only example of a sexual woman we will provide to the young women of our culture? Where can girls look to see women who find empowerment in deciding when and how to be or feel sexual? Even if being sexualized by society’s gaze is demeaning, there must be a space where women can still be sexual when they choose to be.
A woman can choose to be sexual or not sexual, and so do mothers. We’re living in a world where grown women are scorned to not act sexual in the media on their own accord ‘in case they affect the mind of young girls’ , but only secretly with their partner, while men can be in music videos with strippers (see Future and Robin Thicke). I’ve discussed this before in another essay, but its increasingly worrying how when women want to show their sexuality to the world on their own accord, but seem to have more hate than men in the music industry who display the same half naked girls in their videos as side chicks, or take nude sexual photos and are met with exclamations of “Daddy fuck me up” starkly contrasting to photos of Kim in which the term “slut” is commonplace. Fuck the double standard, seriously.
The comments about sexualisation becoming a detriment to women are not delving deep enough. Instead of shaming women who are proud of their bodies and sexuality, let’s all stand against oppressors who directly use the women as sexual objects such as female sexual slavery and advertisements selling sex instead of the product/service. The way I see it is, the video itself is definitely sexual, but its not ‘selling’ sex for views. It’s creating a positive light for mothers who also feel the same way. Its fun and naughty vibe should be celebrated among women who feel confident about their bodies, despite going through pregnancy and raising a child, still continue feeling bomb AF and will never stop slaying the world.
It’s not through these sexual videos that are affecting young girls’ minds. It’s the fact that these young girls see the shit that confident women get for showing off their own bodies whether through make up or clothing and feel like its wrong for taking ownership and loving their female parts they were born with. They feel like instead, they should hate on their female peers and slut shame them, compete on who fulfills the desirable women stereotype instead of embracing the power of sisterhood.
The world may have become introduced to feminism but its time to step it up a notch and allow all women, younger or older, to be able to express their sexuality just as men are able to. It’s time to remove the double standard placed on women and show an example to mothers from future generations to not feel pressured to fit in a mold society tells you to, but to do what ever the fuck makes them happy and nurture their child lovingly on their own terms. It’s time to show women as a whole not to be afraid of their own bodies, despite society giving them shit over it. Lets get together feminists.