These days, it seems like every celebrity from Beyoncé to Jennifer Garner is using their influence to attempt to dismantle gender stereotypes. Whether it's the Cover Girl #GirlsCan campaign lead by stars like Katy Perry or the #BanBossy effort spearheaded by Sheryl Sandberg, there's a growing trend towards incorporating female empowerment into pretty much everything except sandwiches (someone, please come up with a feminist sandwich).
The latest to join the femtastic bandwagon is Jennifer Lopez, with a new video that's sure to make waves. In it, she exposes one of the oldest sexist stereotypes in the music video book, asking, "Why do men always objectify the woman?"
The video begins with a conversation with J-Lo's backup dancers, joking while a boring, dorky white guy proposes all these bad ideas for where J-Lo should film her next music video. First, he suggests a water-park (ugh), a carnival (double ugh) and then the zoo (super ugh), to which all of them respond: booooring.
Then backup dancer #1 points out, "If she was a guy you wouldn't be having this conversation at all." Backup dancer #2 says, "If she was a dude, they would have her up in a mansion with all these half-naked girls or maybe in a yacht." To which dancer #1 responds, "Why do the men always objectify the women?"
Yes, backup dancers! Why do the men always objectify the women? And why isn't J-Lo the one making this very important point about the industry she herself dominates? The awkwardly titled song title "I Luh Ya PaPi" is all about loving her man, but the music video is all about her turning the tables on gender roles in music videos. It features her on a yacht, hanging out in some castle surrounding by (we can only assume) everyone but her "papi."
The backup dancers spend most of the time "objectifying" the men, and by "objectifying" I mean by mostly pointing at their genitals and making faces.
Oh, and pouring things down their genitals to get more eyeballs on their brand placement.
However, as soon as the boy singer enters the mix, tables that were previously turned just go back to the same boring place.
This is what happens when feminism becomes "popular." It's done imperfectly.
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.
To tear down gender stereotypes, we need to think outside of the box. Unfortunately, J-Lo may not be any different than the male rappers she's criticizing.