My fabulous 9 year old niece, like most 9 year old girls in this country is a huge Little Mix fan (and maybe secretly so am I). Anyways, the other day when I picked her up from school she wanted enthused to go straight for my phone, to get onto YouTube (as 9 year olds of 2016 do) . She wanted to to play me their new song entitled ‘Shout out to my Ex’.
Listening to the song, I was initially very much feeling the vibe. The supposedly girl power,feminist anthem begins with explaining the pain the girls have experiences by their ex’s and proceeds to show imagery of the ladies leaving their ex’s in the desert and driving off in the wind to become bigger,better and stronger women. Out with the men and their silly ways and in with a new wave of freedom and liberation.
Such discourse is nothing new within popular culture and has been exposed by many fantastic female moguls many of whom I admire. However, it is important to recognise that like much that exists within popular culture such narratives acutely play into an all too familiar patriarchal discourse which values male domination. Even more incredibly so, this discourse has often been played out through the guise of a skewed patriarchal ‘feminism’.
The chorus of the song sings :
‘ Shout out to my ex, you’re really quite the man
You made my heart break and that made me who I am’.
Now as much as I understand the reality of being shaped by past experiences, hurt included ; I find it slightly problematic for girls to be hearing a narrative which suggests their identity, who they are is fortified and made valid within the context of male domination which is all too often glorified with patriarchal culture. Yes , they are telling their ex’s that they aint shit and should rightly be left in the desert BUT it also clandestinely celebrates a dominating culture which harms women on a daily basis.
This notion suggests that women gain strength through pain, more specifically through pain committed by men.Through such a lense, how do women gain strength without experiencing pain? Do we have to experience pain to be strong and empowered? If so, do we need to keep the patriarchy flowing so women can have walk in their strength?
I was acutely made aware of such dodginess when a male friend of mine a few years back in attempt to understand my passion for destroying patriarchal thinking asked me what man had hurt me so badly? I laughed, for quite a very long time, as I write this I continue to cackle (like the evil black feminist capitalist destroying witch I am) because I am constantly reminded that we live in a culture that seeks to understand women through patriarchal goggles (Ohhh I like that) . Where female passion and anger is misconstrued and viewed through a framework which attempts to put men at the focal point of our fight for justice. Such a framework suggests the spirit of my zeal have to be bound in the chains of male domination. And really and truly, I’m not down for all that b.
We need a new understanding of revolutionary feminist thought that exists within popular culture which doesn’t arm women in a cloak of strength at the hands and courtesy of men but rather suggests women exude our strength from who we are as innately passionate beings who fight for justice,compassion and love.
I am who I am BECAUSE OF WHO I AM
Not because a dude pissed me off