Thursday, July 22, 2010

Not That Girl

"If I were a boy..." is a famous song written by popular music artist Ciara which discusses the difference between men and women and social constructs of their responsibilities in their respective gender roles. In America there is an explosion of music videos which exploits women for their sexual appeal and portrays the man as the dominant character. Look at the lyrics as some of the songs such as, "Throw it in the bag", "Sponsor", "OMG", and so on. Our culture is continuing to suppress women as a face of intellect and covering their face with a veil of sexual intensity. This culture of hegemonic ideologies is very prevalent in our society because of the image social media attempts to depict. Women have marched for rights to vote, gain equal salaries, and benefit from the from the same education networks and one must wonder when they will stop having to succumb to sexual exploitation? Hegemony is the prevailing force over a less powerful group allowing for exploitation, oppression, and tyranny. Britney Spears, who has since matured from her bizarre hair cut, has tried to subvert against misogynistic ideologies in her video "Womanizer".

Her video "Womanizer" shows Britney in an array of different outfits showing the "gender-specific" roles of a career. Such as in the beginning of the video she is cooking breakfast for her stage lover and he is in the nude reading the paper as if he does not care. She must slave to meet all of his needs. When she throws the egg down on his plate he takes out his cell phone and begins to check he plans for the day showing no signs of gratitude or appreciation. This is clearly a woman working for her man with no such pay except a relationship. In another setting this would be called indentured servitude. A slave is at every call of the master while only receiving a place to sleep and eat while they pay off a debt or they are working to pay for their keep. She goes against this norm by pretending to pour coffee in this cup while singing the lyrics talking about how she will not be womanized.

In the article "Hegemony", James Lull says that "Dominant ideological streams must be subsequently reproduced in the activities of our most basic social units-families, workplace networks, and friendship groups in the many sites and undertakings of everyday life " (62). Lull is suggesting that one is dominated when they are continually put down or placed into a dominant based setting in which the victim feels as if they must either be complacent to the domination, or they must conform their own ideologies to fit within the social norm. Spears is going against this pedagogy and showing her man that she will not be another trophy wife or late night office meeting.

The second scene in which we see Spears rallying for the strength of women is in her workplace setting where she again is playing the "gender specific" role of a woman secretary being scoped out by the men of her office like a tiger stalks its prey. Her dance moves continue to push the man away and she she throws him on the copy machine saying she will not be womanized. She has a more argumentative attitude in this scene fighting against the will of the man. The man sits down and reaches for her waist and again she pushes him away, allowing him to see that she will not be domesticated with dominating morals or be forced to join the current of the normal social wave. "Those who uncritically follow the dictates of media culture tend to 'mainstream' themselves, conforming to the dominant fashion, values, and behavior" (Kellner 10).

Kellner is suggesting that those who are uneducated outside of the social media stay withing the box of the social media in which the only option is to conform to the shape of the box. The walk, talk, and fashion of the media dictates the actions and behavior of the women and as stated early, the actions depicted are clearing a non subversive role for women. Spears, "Who you trying to front, I know just what you are" is claiming that the man is not sly in his quest to try and be on the side of the female. Spears is aware of the charisma game and she is not following the rules, she wishes to be her own woman and not be womanized.

The third scene has Spears acting as a waitress where she says, "say it how you wanna, but I'm never gonna fall for you", directly stating the fact that people may try to spin the truth of taking advantage of woman but she will not fall for that trap. She is letting the male know that she is above the dominant media culture and he can have the education, job, charisma he wishes, but she will not be subjected to exploitation. Spears is allowing herself (in the scene) to become physically close to the man and then pushes him away almost as if she is toying with his emotions. She understands that the man wishes to have her her, but she will not let that occur because she knows the history of his past endeavours. Kellner addresses this when he discusses Gramsci's model of hegemony and counter hegemony "the project was aimed a social transformation and attempted to specify forces of domination and resistance in order to aid the process of political struggle and emancipation from oppression and domination" (Kellner 11).

Throughout this video Spears is demonstrating she is the driving force behind the liberation from oppression because she has been in the waters with it and now she is against. Spears was a popular pop star who started out as conforming to the hegemonic ideologies of women. But now, to be womanized is not on her personal agenda of career aspirations and she can make the strive for accomplishments with the accommodation of sexual exploitation. This video portrays Spears in a new light going against the great and being the golden wheat which shines in a music field dominated by misogynistic ideologies.

"Womanizer". Dir. Joseph Kahn. "Circuis". Britney Spears. 2008.

Lull, James. "Hegemony." Gender, Race, and Class in Media: A Text-Reader. Eds. Gail Dines and Jean M. Humez. Thousand Oaks, CA:Sage Publication Inc., 2003. 61-66. Print

Kellner, Douglas. "Cultural Studies, Multiculturalism, and Media Culture." Gender, Race, and Class in Media: A Text-Reader. Eds. Gail Dines and Jean M. Humez. Thousand Oaks, CA:Sage Publication Inc., 2003. 9-20. Print


  1. Strengths:

    You make strong points and back it up with appropriate quotes from the readings.

    I like the recurring theme of "I will not be womanized" that you've incorporated. It reinforces that idea.

    You've made Britney Spears seem feminist through this. Good Job.


    There are some grammatical errors.

    You can work on your thesis more. Maybe like adding in the specific points you will deal with throughout the essay.

    Some sentences were confusing, like "to be womanized is not on her personal agenda of career aspirations and she can make the strive for accomplishments with the accommodation of sexual exploitation" I don't see where you were going with the "sexual exploitation" reference there.

    Note: "If i were a boy..." is by Beyonce.

  2. Derek-
    I'm definitely in agreement with Henry's comments. I think you chose a great video and you make good points about how it can viewed as a production that subverts the notion that women must be subservient.

    The thesis you've argued needs to be more specific (as Henry mentioned) by pointing out the fact that Spears is countering dominant ideologies about women as objects. The issue of her hair (and maturation?) is hardly relevant; furthermore, it's a way of undercutting her based on her appearance and the tabloid-reported mental heath issues. My goal is not to see your thesis would reinforce a dominant ideology that marginalizes women.
    Having a clear thesis will help you immensely (as I mentioned in the comments on the first post you authored); additionally, structuring your paragraphs to facilitate the analysis on a point by point basis will also be key to improving your analytical writing.
    Be careful with your quote usage; therefore, remember to use quotes selectively to back up specific points. When you jump from a paragraph with a point from one author, directly to another paragraph that quotes a different author, the points the author makes should be backing up the same point you've made in the paragraph preceding the first paragraph with quoted work.
    The following outline can be used as a reference point (the numbers indicate the paragraph sequence) to structure and order a basic, written analysis:
    1. Intro Paragraph (with thesis at the last sentence)

    2. Point A (your first point/assertion that supports your thesis)

    3. Point A with quote from "expert witness" (author cited through the use of a direct quote to back up your point/assertion made in paragraph 2)

    4. Point B (your point/assertion that supports your thesis that can be directly linked with point A, so that your transition from point A to B is logical and adds depth to your analysis)

    5. Point B with quote from "expert witness" (author cited through the use of a direct quote to back up your point/assertion made in paragraph 4)

    .... repeat the steps above until your points have been made and you've adequately proven your thesis.

    #. Conclusion (after all points have been made)