In which I gush about Christina Aguilera

I will confess here to a not-even-guilty enjoyment of Christina Aguilera, and her latest video is a thing of brilliance. In short, it features her looking amazing in a variety of costumes and killing men. Watch it:

See? Isn’t it EVEN BETTER than I described?

Xtina plays around with costumes which represent various facets of “slut”: sometimes she goes for the Beverley Hills look, other times, a tight black dress and sometimes even a dreadlocked grungy girl. These are the women who will, under patriarchy, often end up as victims and blamed for what happened to them. Not so in this video: they are granted strength.

Each of these characters picks up a man and then murders him. Delightfully, the killings feature an aspect of traditional femininity: a car is blown up in a cloud of pink fire; a man’s head is smashed into a shower of glitter, and, my personal favourite, a man is murdered in the loo with arcs of blue blood, reminiscent of the blue liquid used in sanitary towel adverts.

Even the song is far better than what pop culture generally shits out: it’s about a woman who just wants to fuck a guy, and nothing more. The juxtaposition of this with the violence of the video literalises a word that doesn’t actually exist: “mankiller”, the heterosexual female version of the heterosexual male “ladykiller”, a man who seduces a lot of women. There’s a reason there isn’t an equivalent for women: we’re not supposed to have any sexual agency.

Ultimately, it’s a provocative video and will probably create a bit of a temper tantrum from those who didn’t understand the point of the SCUM Manifesto: that we live in a society where violence against women is endemic, to the point where the very notion of the roles being reversed and women suddenly having the same level of power over men is unthinkable and causes everyone to freak the fuck out. At the same time as Xtina wields a baseball bat in very stylised violence, Chris Brown is topping the charts despite having put his girlfriend in hospital and proudly displaying a tattoo of a woman with very similar injuries. Xtina’s video, like SCUM before it, puts men on the back foot for once, allowing them a taste of the fear that we live in.

It’s fun, it’s provocative, it’s sexy, and it’s bound to make the MRAs whinge about reverse sexism. Sterling stuff from Ms Aguilera all round.

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16 responses to “In which I gush about Christina Aguilera

  • M.K. Hajdin (Exiled Star)

    In a world where women are the sex class, women presenting themselves as sexy man-killers does nothing but reinforce sexism. Because that whole femme-fatale dealio is an old sexist trope. So what if it’s got some lady-anger? It’s neatly contained and neutralized. It’s revenge fantasy, not resistance to sexism. Men get off on revenge fantasies too. Many men wank to fantasies about violent, domineering women. Eroticization of dominance is nothing new, neither is flipping roles.

    In a world without oppression, there would be no coercive influence pressuring women to perform “femininity” or “sexuality”. That doesn’t mean, as some aggrieved funfems fear, that there won’t be any sex. Just that it won’t be the first thing anyone sees when they look at us, or the first thing anyone thinks about when they think about us.

    • stavvers

      The knowingness of the performance of these tropes, though, turns it from a mere rehashing into a genuine critique of this system. She’s categorically not a sex object here; she’s dangerous.

      Revenge is a resistance to sexism. It goes from performing to the male gaze to “Oh, you’re looking at me? I will kill you.” It takes resistance from asking nicely to something far more provocative–and proactive.

      I find it quite concerning that you believe this to be “eroticisation of dominance” and in any way related to men who fantasise about dominant women. It isn’t, and there’s a level of kink-shaming in your comment. Furthermore, you use the slur “funfems”. Don’t do that.

  • M.K. Hajdin (Exiled Star)

    Kink is also the eroticization of dominance. You’re welcome to be as concerned about that as you like. I’m quite concerned about that myself, as well as concerned with those who try to repackage sexism as feminist resistance, because doing the sexbot thing, however “ironically”, will not end gender oppression. We’ve been doing it ever since oppression began, and it has never freed us and it never will.

    Appease all you want, but don’t lie about it. It’s not resistance. It’s not activism.

  • M.K. Hajdin (Exiled Star)

    It is your blog and all, but you lack authority to police my language. I’ll use “funfem” all I want to, thanks. I owe no allegiance to rogue allies.

    • stavvers

      But funfem is merely a slur used to silence women, and it’s not a very nice one at that.

    • stavvers

      In all seriousness, the only people I ever see using the word funfem use it to police behaviour: specifically, as a derogatory term to shame feminists about sex and about treating trans people and sex workers like people. It sets off alarm bells.

  • Anon

    1. She’s murdering men in the video. As a note, this should get no privilege over a video of a guy having sex with and then killing women, of course. I am not saying that such ‘joke violence’ is fine or not, just that If joke violence against men is fine in this way, ‘joke violence’ against women would have to be fine in this way too.

    2. ‘we live in a society where violence against women is endemic, to the point where the very notion of the roles being reversed and women suddenly having the same level of power over men is unthinkable and causes everyone to freak the fuck out. ‘ – Violence against women is obviously messed up. However, the solution to this is not to reverse the situation. We should freak out at the notion of violence against men being endemic to the same extent that we should freak out at the notion of violence against women being endemic. The solution to misogyny is not misandry. They are both equally bad, they’re just happens to be way more misogyny in the world right now.

    3. ‘Xtina’s video, like SCUM before it, puts men on the back foot for once, allowing them a taste of the fear that we live in.’ – how about nobody being on the back foot and nobody living in fear? That is what we should strive for.

    We feminists should strive for equalty. We need to be careful not to become stereotypes of ourselves and think that mysogony is bad but mysandry isn’t. They are both equaly bad. Though, of course, I know you are not saying that. I just wanted to point out a few things.

    • stavvers

      I find discussion of “equality” to be a red herring a lot of the time: many people treat it as though we must already act as though everyone is equal.

      The simple truth is, we’re not. Misogyny is not merely a hatred of women, it is a function of privilege. It’s prejudice PLUS privilege. Because of this, there is no such thing the other way around: misandry is, after all, just a fancy way of saying “reverse sexism” (compare, for example “racism against whites”).

      To give parity to these things is to utterly dismiss the role of privilege and take discussion away from that.

  • Lizzy Glass

    the whole ‘kink is the eroticisation of dominance’ stuff smacks of telling people how to do sex. Switching gender/dominance roles is provocative, and I agree with stavvers it is resistance. Yeah, it’s still binary and stereotypical but we don’t have the right to tell people what kinds of sexuality they take on. A woman being a masochist is as valid as a woman being a sadist is as valid as a woman having no sex whatsoever.

    • jemima 101 (@itsjustahobby)

      Thanks for that, as a masochist and submissive in a hetrosexual relationship it is good to know I have validity . ( I know you may not mean to come across that way, but really, do I need to be used again as an example of something that should be tolerated?)

      Anyhoo, the video, I had to watch it twice as first time I was totally distracted by the shoes! Watching reminded me of this, Dylan’s new video where a stalker is kidnapped and totured.http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/musicblog/video/2012/aug/29/bob-dylan-duquesne-whistle

      I am sure Christina will receive a lot more attention and attacks for her stylized violence than for Dylans . Which in itself makes her video worth making.

  • Serenity Womble

    Agreed – this is fantastic. I loved that she got to be the ‘hero’ too, with that old saying that heroes don’t look back as they walk away from explositions. This song is sheer empowerment. Do I want to dress like her or pick up men like that? Not particularly, but a women who dresses like that and picks men up is not asking for it, and the meaningless deaths of men in this video exactly mirrors what is so common for men to do to women in real life.

    I’m non-violent, myself, but being non-violent shouldn’t mean you just have to sit there and take it. A video like this is treated with horror because it seems to present ‘misandrist’ tendencies, but it’s clear that this is intended as commentary, not endorsement. And the commentary is that we expect violence from men and vilify it from women. This reinforces the acceptibility of violence against women in a sexual context because men do not hold women in the same fear that women routinely find men.

    It recalls to me the single most powerful thing in Dredd 3D: Ma-Ma’s biting off of the penis of the man who had abused her, and Anderson’s use of this image of a woman responding with sexual violence towards a man as a defence against the threat of sexual violence SHE is faced with from another man.

    It’s not about saying violence against men is OK, it’s about how important it is not to apply double-standards to men and women that enforce the idea that women are defenseless and men are a threat: ESPECIALLY in the sexual context.

  • cleanguy

    Good video made more watchable by better than usual musicianship. I hope it inspires much discussion and action against our relentlessly polarized culture, which everyone involved – government, business groups, the media – preferred remain that way.

  • Hedwig

    Hm. this is really interesting from several points of view. I’m thinking about the absolute lack of erotization (spelling!?so very tired at the moment) of the vulnerable male body. Something which features time and time again in all aspects of ‘ladykillers’. CSI have it, music videos have it, movies have it.
    But here, almost none. I like the blue blood and all, but i’m not at all convinced it manages to do what the images that comes through the genre one would think Xtina was playing on. Yes, the wielding of the baseball bat sure, but it is all. I don’t know. I’m more into the Gaga kinda style, if comparing killing dudes and all, to put it perhaps a bit more bluntly than the topic deserves.

    Thank you for thought provoking blog post.

  • @sluicepup

    [Mod note: AROOGA! AROOOGA! SOMEONE WHO DOESN'T GET IT IN THE SLIGHTEST KLAXON]

    imagine your first paragraph read:

    “I will confess here to a not-even-guilty enjoyment of *misc male pop culture icon*, and his latest video is a thing of brilliance. In short, it features him looking amazing in a variety of costumes and killing women. Watch it:”

    if it makes people complain about reverse sexism, its because it is such an obvious clear example!

    oh, and the equivalent of ‘ladykiller’ is femme fatale

  • somebody

    Aguilera conforms with patriarchy, and when there is no benefit for her, because one thing or another she is: “your body”

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