J-Lo, Meghan Trainor and Feminism

Jennifer Lopez’s “Ain’t Your Mama” . . .

. . . offers, at best, a diluted feminist statement. Feminism lite, if you will. It safely locates all of the depicted chauvinism in mediated depictions of the past — women as factory workers during WW II, homemakers in ’50s sitcoms, secretaries in Mad Men‘s deconstruction of the ’60s and shoulder padded assistants in ’80s primetime soaps, with the emphasis at least as much on the women’s fashion sense as their working conditions — avoiding, even minimizing the still widespread gender inequality of today. Then, after an homage to/ripoff of Network‘s shouting “I’m mad as hell” out of windows scene, the video culminates in a dance sequence reminiscent of Pat Benatar’s similar climax to “Love Is a Battlefield” (not that there’s anything wrong with that):

Overall, “Ain’t Your Mama,” and its video, seem like an answer record to “Dear Future Husband” . . .

. . . which seems to embrace the ’50s sitcom homemaker role (albeit replacing home cooked meals with sexual favors as the commodity women trade for patriarchal support).

But both songs were (co)written by Meghan Trainor. Hunh?

Has the woman who once proclaimed “I don’t consider myself a feminist” changed her point of view, expanded her consciousness? Some cynics might argue that she is simply falling into formation and following recent songwriting trends, especially when putting words in other artists’ mouths, but she seems to have evolved in her own work as well.

The songs on her own recent album, Thank You, do not revolve around men’s approval like many (most?) of those on last year’s Title. There are songs about female empowerment (“Woman Up”) and camaraderie (“No,” “Friends”) that send a message that female friendships and support are more important than any man (“sisters before misters”?). And while much of Trainor’s “girl power” still tends to revolve around how good she looks — after all, these are mostly club bangers meant to be enjoyed during nights out — despite a photoshop controversy, her empowerment in songs like “Me Too” . .

. . . and “Watch Me Do” clearly comes from within, no longer depending on the approval of any man or at the expense of “skinny bitches.”

Woman up, indeed.


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