With Jennifer Lopez’s new video “Ain’t Your Mama,” she embodies several fake women in different eras along the walks of the feminist’s life: the frustrated housewife, the fed up secretary, and the soul-tired powerful career woman.
Justifiably, it may be an eye roll that JLo celebrates curves and promotes her Body Lab weight loss supplements. It also may be cringey that Hillary Clinton’s words about wage equality get mashed up with what some are declaring a feminist revolution = dumping a pot roast over the head of your unappreciative husband.
But it isn’t even that culturally off for 2016. This den mother-rejection letter, packaged in a pop song for the masses, and written by Megan Trainor isn’t really meant to be attuned to actual political revolution. It’s all just a peppy music video-friendly statement of defiance, and it’s not trying to be much more than that. That’s why it deserves more credit than it’s getting.
The thing is, now in 2016, the cartoonish roles that J Lo depicts are actually alive and well despite Hillary Cilnton’s now years-old speech on wage equality. Plenty of women don’t need to be told they don’t need to scrub floors to be a valuable human. But household chores are still disproportionate. It’s not the most important gap facing women, but it is nutso.
Does getting violent with your boss actually match up with what Hillary says? Of course not. To be fair though, even when Beyonce invokes the poetry of Chimamanda Ngozi on Flawless or of Warsan Shire on Lemonade, Queen Bey’s lyrics aren’t as high-minded-they’re boiled down and catchy. Appropriately, SNL recently nailed the feminist anthem parody called “This Is Not a Feminist Song” to poke fun at the predictable “not a feminist revolution,” reaction so many co-optive songs deserve. But no music video really moved women forward too much. This won’t. Neither did Blue Crush.
As for the fact that it’s quite the endorsement-happy time. That’s nothing that new compared to some of the more celebrated power woman jams. Even Nicki Minaj shilled for her drinks with the male gaze-free “Anaconda.” Beyonce also deserves a Grammy for creating the “boy Bye” anthem of the year. “Sorry” from Lemonade, is a “girl you don’t need him jam” about leaving your man while putting your middle fingers to the sky and drinking liquor with your girl pack. Someone should give Bey a Grammy for working Jay-Z’s cognac, D’ussee into the lyrics while telling women to leave their men.
Back to “Aint Your Mama.” Protest choreography in Rihanna’s Manolo’s will not win everyone over, and neither will the tune. But the song does remind women that they don’t have to be anyone’s mama, which was the point. J Lo is just one in a long line of women to do the whole Rosie the Riveter thing to get women excited. We know, what else is on? But creeptastic superiors, neglected significant others aren’t totally off. This may be light on actual political substance, but it’s actually quite in touch with the whole dual role thing. You know, when some women, NOT EVERYONE, are all “so I have to work as hard but still be a maternal domestic angel to you” thing. This video does live up its title. It doesn’t aspire to do more.