We live in a world where pop icons make feminists furious. Straight from the pages of Ariel Levy’s Female Chauvinist Pigs and Susan J. Douglas’ Enlightened Sexism, girls are constantly being fed an offensive image via music videos and lyrics: that women are supposed to be submissive, demure, and – above all! – sexy. So every once in a while, when a female artist makes a move (however small) toward making a statement, it should be commended.
So I’m here to talk about Ke$ha.
(I can hear you all booing already; hear me out.)
While Ke$ha might not be the poster child for appropriate behavior (anyone who’s seen her “TiK ToK” video can tell you that), she does arguably represent some facet of feminism: doing what she wants and not giving an F-U-C-K what anyone else things about it. But rather than starting a debate about whether or not Ke$ha’s party girl image represents feminism in a positive light, what I’d like to do is draw specific attention to one of the songs on her debut album, Animal, “Dinosaur.”
“Old man, why are you staring at me?” starts the catchy song. “Mack on me and my friends, it’s kind of creepy.” And while the song is specifically about older men looking for young girls, it speaks to street harassment in general with lines like “hitting on me – what?” and “come on, dude, leave us alone.”
As a high school teacher, I’ve overheard more than one female student quote the song and then turn to her friend like, “Seriously, why do they do that?” inadvertently inciting an entire conversation dedicated to the injustices of gender-based violence inextricably laced inside street harassment. They share stories, vent, and leave the conversation feeling justified and validated – this is a problem, and I’m not alone. And isn’t that what Hollaback! is all about?
Now, I’m a Ke$ha fan and will defend her to the death, but I think that even her haters have to admit that, with this track, she’s taking a step in the right direction.
Melissa A. Fabello lives in New England, where she volunteers for various feminist organizations and runs the lesbian blog and community ToughxCookies.