Annie Lennox says the word 'twerking,' makes most controversial statement of 2014

Guys. Guys. Take a deep breath. Sit down. Pour yourself a strong drink. Annie Lennox said something marginally critical about Beyoncé and then said the word “twerking.”

*Internet implodes*

In an interview with NPR’s Steve Inskeep yesterday, the singer had the gall to say that “twerking isn’t feminism.”

WHAT.

Hopefully Lennox is on Twitter so the really real feminists can tweetsplain to her that she’s “slut-shaming” or that she’s “sex-negative” or, like, that actually twerking is an expression of female sexuality and I do what I want fuck yeah.

Ugh. If this the most controversial thing a woman can say about feminism, let’s shoot this zombie movement in the brain because, please.

Here are two important facts:

1) Beyonce is “feminism lite.” Like, obviously. So what? Do you think even Beyoncé would argue with that one?

2) Twerking has nothing to do with feminism.

Also. Twerking has nothing to do with female sexuality or female “empowerment.” (What does “empowerment” even mean anymore? Anybody?)

Twerking is a performance of sexuality for the male gaze. That’s it. And you can do it as much as you want. I don’t care. But it ain’t feminism and it empowers nothing but your ass. And you are more than your ass. Maybe it empowers the men watching your ass. They probs feel pretty good about it, yeah. Boners are pretty empowering, I imagine.

For interested parties (i.e. those of you who like feminism to extend beyond 140 characters and quasi first-year feminist theory/self-help mantras that erase our ability to make definitive, critical statements about anything and also nuance and agency), here’s what Lennox actually said about Bey:

I would call that “feminist lite.” L-I-T-E. I’m sorry. It’s tokenistic to me. I mean, I think she’s a phenomenal artist — I just love her performances — but I’d like to sit down [with her]. I think I’d like to sit down with quite a few artists and talk to them. I’d like to listen to them; I’d like to hear what they truly think.

I see a lot of it as them taking the word hostage and using it to promote themselves, but I don’t think they necessarily represent wholeheartedly the depths of feminism — no, I don’t. I think for many it’s very convenient and it looks great and it looks radical, but I have some issues with it. I have issues with it. Of course I do. I think it’s a cheap shot. (via Buzzfeed)

You mean to tell me that millionaire pop star, Beyoncé, doesn’t “necessarily represent wholeheartedly the depths of feminism??” EVERYBODY FREAK OUT. You start, Salon.

Tracy Clark Flory accuses Lennox of dissing Bey and twerking as a means to get media attention and promote her album, which is kind of a joke. First of all, what she said was hardly controversial. It’s just basic shit. If you literally believe that Bey and twerking embody feminism than you need to go back to class. Second, a more successful way for her to promote herself would be by twerking. That’s how it’s done, isn’t it? (Quick, somebody say something ageist!)

Lennox elaborated on her Bey statement, saying: “I was thinking at the time about very impactful feminists that have dedicated their lives to the movement of liberating women and supporting women at the grass roots, and I was saying, ‘Well that’s one end of the spectrum, and then you have the other end of the spectrum.'”

Well yeah. Most “feminism” is not done in the spotlight. It isn’t done on stage. Much of it is unpaid work done by regular, non-famous, working class women. It’s done in transition houses and in rooms with other women. It’s written in decidedly unsexy books. It’s done on the streets. It’s done in classrooms. It’s even done online. It’s done in all sorts of ways and in all sorts of places but most of it isn’t done in a sequined bodysuit at the MTV awards, ass grinding up on a pole. Which is not to say that a woman can’t be a feminist and wear a sparkly bodysuit — she sure can — all it is saying is that the be all and end all of feminism is not Beyoncé.

Lennox goes on to explain that twerking is “not liberating” — that “It’s a sexual thing that you’re doing on a stage; it doesn’t empower you.” Gasp, amirite?

But folks are actually gasping at this. Flory writes:

… defining twerking as categorically unfeminist is silly and sensationalist. Look, twerking can be empowering! It can also be exploitative. While I’m making definitive statements about a complex topic, here’s another one for you: Reducing Beyoncé’s feminism to twerking is far more disempowering than her gluteal displays. Are we sure that Lennox even knows what twerking is? Because Beyoncé is hardly its most obvious spokesperson.

I’m sorry but what’s really insane about this whole conversation is the weight we’re expected to place, within the feminist movement, on fucking twerking. It’s a sexy fucking dance move. Give it a rest.

Also, saying the words “twerking isn’t feminist” disempowers exactly no one. Is Beyoncé somehow less powerful because someone said twerking isn’t a feminist act? Do you even know what power is? Like, are women going to escape male violence by twerking? Does a feminist saying that twerking isn’t empowering prop up the system of patriarchy? That doesn’t strike me as very logical, considering that it isn’t Feminists Against Twerking who have been holding us down under that glass ceiling and making child porn and beating us up in our homes and whatnot all these years.

No one is “policing” anyone’s behaviour and no one has said that, in order to be a feminist, everything you do must be a feminist act. No one has said Beyoncé can’t be a feminist or that if you twerk you lose your feminist card. So just relax, have a sip of that drink, and power up your brain. This isn’t rocket science, this isn’t controversy. If the notion that twerking isn’t liberation gets you this riled up, you need to start paying more attention.

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

Like this article? Tip Feminist Current!

$
Personal Info

Donation Total: $1

  • Leigh Ann

    Meghan Murphy, all I can say is YES and thank you for another thoughtful, smart essay. You are such a comforting island of sanity in a world that often seems to be throwing women under the bus for sex.

    • Sharon

      +1. Right on. I love reading Meghan Murphy’s posts! The sarcasm is at a level I can only dream of achieving one day.

      Also, LOL that Flory was talking about twerking and said ‘while I’m making definitive statements about a complex topic’. Twerking is not only not a feminist issue, it’s certainly not complex and requires about three brain cells to understand!

      • Ben Funk

        Concur, the “definitive statement” bit. Seemed like an Onion article snippet.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Thanks!

  • Sabine

    Absolutely right on! Twerking is purely, 100% for the delectation of male viewers. Since when is writhing around in a state of faux (SO faux!!) sexual arousal wearing pretty much nothing considered “empowering” for women? I think there are a lot of women out there who are confusing giving men boners (“Look at me, I’m so hot, you can even see me naked…pant, pant…but you can’t have me”) with being empowered. Having every man in the world want to fuck you is NOT empowerment. It’s a power trip, it’s ego and it has NOTHING to do with feminism or being liberated. It’s another cage women have built around themselves all the while kidding themselves they are free. Having “control” over men’s dicks (until the next best fantasy comes along) is not empowerment in my book but that’s what’s being sold. Women should be able to wear what they want and to have the freedom to express their sexuality without any fear whatsoever but this is just pandering to the hyper-pornified male gaze, nothing more. It’s all being done with men in mind so how in God’s name can that be feminism in any form?? What Annie said is not controversial in the LEAST! And she is a woman who really IS sexy in such a cool, earthy way because she has never offered herself up on a plate as some kind of male fantasy – she is rooted in her power and that very much comes across. And that scares the crap out of a lot of men….

    • Meh

      I am LOVING this comment!!!

      I like the bit where Lennox says that she wants to sit down with Bey et al and ask them what they think feminism is.

    • Any woman who thinks she has control over men’s dicks is deluding herself. She may be able to excite them dicks, but men control them. There is no sexual power for women in a rape culture.

      • Sabine

        Exactly!

  • Lee

    I just… I just sometimes wonder if… are most people really just stupid? Is that what’s going on?

    I feel dumber just for having read that small quote from Tracy Clark Flory. “defining twerking as categorically unfeminist is silly and sensationalist.” Twerking is silly and sensationalist, and is about as feminist as licking mayonnaise off of a hot dog and posting the vid on your whattheeffever account. There, I said it.

  • Derrington

    Porn, men and high brow uni lecturer feminism has lost us two generations of females. The porn and male media industry has given birth to women who are not sex positive, they are sexism positive. Annie lennox has always been feminist, the current sexism positive feminists are zombie feminism – enjoying being called a cunt and a whore because youre female is not feminist, its entrapment, and this generation is lost unless we can find a way of reaching them.

    • jo

      The idea seems to be that if you do what society tells you while feeling empowered and yell at feminists a lot, then sexism will disappear!

    • I don’t think the current generation of young people is quite as lost as you might think. I’ve interacted with liberal feminists at my university and they generally seem like decent people. The problem is that they do not know that radical feminism exists. Interacting with liberal feminists via the internet gave me the impression that they were all fanatically pro-pornography and wanted to crucify anybody who was not, but in real life it is more the case that liberal feminists are simply unaware of the fact that it is possible to be a feminist and be anti-pornography. As far as they are aware, all feminists love pornography and are for femininity and prettification. I don’t fault them for being liberals, but I do try to alert them to the fact that an alternative exists and get them to think a litte, because I know the universities are not doing that.

      Of course I can only speak for my university. I have no idea what it is like in other places, but I don’t think we should give up and assume that all women are running around screaming “sexual empowerment” and “I do what I want with my sexy body”.

      As for the growing prevalence of twerking within the culture, I think they are yet another example of the effect of the pornography industry on the general culture. All those images of women twerking are like teaser trailers for hard core pornography. Such imagery tells us nothing about what women desire sexually (hence it does not represent “female sexuality”) and even if they did, unless one adopted a particular sexuality with the intent of making a political statement (and some lesbian feminists did, but it is not very common), expressing your sexuality is no more “empowering” than expressing your film preferences or food preferences. Why not express your philosophical, moral or political views for once, instead of always blabbering on about sex? Are we supposed to believe that women just can’t handle such matters?

      • “As for the growing prevalence of twerking within the culture, I think they are yet another example of the effect of the pornography industry on the general culture. All those images of women twerking are like teaser trailers for hard core pornography. Such imagery tells us nothing about what women desire sexually (hence it does not represent “female sexuality”) and even if they did, unless one adopted a particular sexuality with the intent of making a political statement (and some lesbian feminists did, but it is not very common), expressing your sexuality is no more “empowering” than expressing your film preferences or food preferences. Why not express your philosophical, moral or political views for once, instead of always blabbering on about sex? ”

        Yes, yes, a thousand times YES! Thank you so much for articulating this.

        • Further to this: “expressing your sexuality is no more “empowering” than expressing your film preferences or food preferences.”

          I would not say I am *completely* disinterested in a person’s food or sexual preferences, BUT, if your favourite supper is a McHappy Meal and your “individual” sexuality is EXACTLY the same as the narrow, manufactured, easily-masticated-by-men sort of “sexuality” invented by and represented in porn, I am decidedly NOT INTERESTED.

      • THIS.
        I was a lib fem empowerfulled sex pozzie stripper.
        I am 100% rad fem now.
        It happens.

        I simply did not know this type of feminism existed. The instant I heard of it, I realized this was the feminism I had been looking for all along, and that what I had believed was just a weak, half measure, male centered, cock pleasing bunch of misogynist bull shit. I know young women and teens that are red fems, they hold all the same beliefs but don’t realize it had a name.
        They are out there!.

        I know, I know, these days there is no excuse for not knowing these days. The web is full of info, and all that. But I didn’t even know to look, I thought the sites that perported to be feminist, were. Imagine that! I wasn’t so into it that I bothered to go further, and had never had a womans study class or anything but the most basic idea of the 1st and 2nd wave (that it was over). I had vaguly heard of Dworkin, but hadn’t read any of her stuff. The others were totally unknown to me.

        BTW- I only found red fem writing by stumbling on it. I saw a link to “I Blame the Patrarchy”, and then heard about “TERFs” and had to know more. For several reasons, I picked it up and ran with it, and get deeper into it.
        I found this site because the writer of my fav blog (Skeptical OB”) did a pod cast on here.

        As much as you may hate reading lib fem nonsense, writing comments with links to rad fem sites will help quite a bit. Many libs will see the post, get mad, get curious, get defensive, argue, think, then change 🙂

        THANK YOU rad fems that were here to enlighten me!

        • corvid

          I hear you! When I first found radical feminism it was like coming home.

          Interesting that the “TERF” concept is making women curious enough to do this kind of research! An unintended consequence!

        • C.K. Egbert

          Welcome, sister!

          Lots of us were liberal feminists once (my first encounter with the idea of sexual harassment was Michael Crichton’s “Disclosure” and I saw nothing wrong with it). It takes time to undo all the ideology that has been hammered into you from day one, and I don’t think I fully understood what was wrong with BDSM until very recently (naive as I was, I genuinely bought the ideology about it being a small, highly regulated community with great standards of consent). It’s a process.

      • Missfit

        ‘expressing your sexuality is no more “empowering” than expressing your film preferences or food preferences.’

        Totally. I regularly express a part of my ‘female sexuality’ by masturbating in my room but then enter a webcam and I suddenly become ’empowered’ by the whole thing? Clearly, this is about the male gaze, not about ‘female sexuality’. This is simply giving too much power to male attention and validation (which of course is supposed to define women and comes through sex in our culture). Feminism! (oops, I meant ‘patriarchy!)

        Meghan asks ‘what does “empowerment” even mean anymore?’ I first thought that maybe I wasn’t understanding the full meaning of the word, some subtlety to it, as English is not my first language and the only time I was seeing this word used in regards to women was in relation to sex work or breast implants and the likes, i.e. catering to the male gaze and sexually pleasing men. How was that empowering? Sounds more like dependence to men’s reactions. Then the other day, I read an article about a woman who was giving classes to immigrant women for them to learn about their rights in Canada and know about the ressources in their neighborhood. One immigrant woman says she felt empowered after having taken the class. I thought now THAT makes sense. Now I get it! It was the first time I think I saw this word being used and felt it actually made sense.

        • You propose a universal philosophical question, Missfit:

          “if a woman has an orgasm [in the forest] and there is no dude watching to get off on it, is it empowerfulling?”

          • Sabine

            Hahahahaha! Oh, that really made me laugh, lizor. Brilliant!

          • Mar Iguana

            Oh, that is too funny. And, deep.

          • I feel like I should make a little graphic of this quote to pass around. Mind if I steal?

        • C.K. Egbert

          That’s the same thought I have when women claim that stripping/burlesque is “for them” and is about “expressing their sexuality.” If it is for you, then why do you need an audience?

          • Sabine

            Quite. Why does “expressing sexuality” require an audience of strangers giving their approval? It’s just ego gratification at conforming to this patriarchal society’s dictatorship over what being “sexual” means. There’s nothing subversive about it. I don’t see how a rehearsed performance can be taken as a genuine expression in that context. Why does anything to do with sex ALWAYS have to be a performance?!! Even in the privacy of the bedroom (or wherever) women are faking orgasms and men are panicking over their “performance” (the actual word used!!) thanks to totally unrealistic porn being normalized and set as the “gold standard”. How is any of this for “us?”

          • lo

            Also the concept ““expressing my sexuality” is essentialist, because it means that sexuality isn’t a social construction (“my sexuality” sounds as if it was innate) and thus that stripping/burlesque/porn etc are natural/normal.

            The worst consequence of this reasoning is the fact that it erases males. It’s like the BDSM or prostitution topic, people act as if it only concerns women, even though males are the ONLY reason they “express their sexuality” through porn/stripping/BDSM/etc -because they were the ones who created those institutions-… If that’s not power then I wonder what it is.

            They admit being objectified, but deny that males are the ones who objectify them (well sometimes they claim that being objectified by “choice” is taking “power” back from them, again a very unclear definition of “power” here) /sigh/

            I think it shows how much people can’t think of another way to see/understand sexuality outside our porn culture.

          • C.K. Egbert

            Great points, I hadn’t thought of “essentializing” sexuality in that way, but that is what the individualism seems to do.

          • Yes exactly. It really speaks to how much a dissociated, self-objectifying (read: PORNOGRAPHIC) model of female sexuality has been assimilated.

            I have always found the truth of this indicated in the language women use when they talk about “a woman’s right to do what she wants with her body” – like a woman and her body are separate. Why is “doing something with one’s body” different from just doing something? Sex is not something I “do with my body” – or if it is, it’s what I categorize as pretty shitty sex at best. Sex is something I do with my body, soul, brain, energy, all of those western categories into which we chop up the idea of self.

            That said, after being raped, enduring coercive sex, being exposed to porn and advertising; in other words, just plain coming into adulthood in this toxic culture, it took a long time to get there. But that’s a much longer comment…

          • Mar Iguana

            lizor, I am so sorry…words fail.

  • jo

    Why are these empowerful types such pearl clutchers? “OMG you said something wasn’t feminist? Are you shaming me?! I choose my choice!!” *dramatically falls down on fainting couch*

    • Meghan Murphy

      hahahaha

  • Me

    It’s pretty sad that there’s even a word for “twerking.” I mean, it just looks completely stupid and uninspired. Without spirit. Objectification’s about killing the spirit and enjoying it, right? When you see people dance and enjoy themselves and not perform, isn’t that actually sexy whatever it looks like? Not this.

    • Sabine

      So true!!! It really is soulless and cynical plus it looks absolutely RIDICULOUS!!! I was at a gig recently and there were girls writhing about like lap-dancers…to indie folk-rock. Seriously. It’s like they didn’t have a clue how to just dance for themselves without an imagined male audience. I felt mortified on their behalf. What I don’t get is how SO many men can fall for such fake, OTT “sexiness” and actually believe it’s real… and therefore sexy! I’ll listen to Beyoncé’s views on “feminism” when she stops posing in men’s magazines in her knickers…

    • Totally disagree, I don’t think its ridiculous at all.
      I think Twisty from IBTP said it best:
      “That goddam Male Gaze is deadly. Through its relentless enpornulational entitlement, it has ruined the butt-dance for everyone.”

      Here’s the post it came from:
      “I have been misinformed. Previously it was considered settled fact here at Spinster HQ that twerking was an appropriation of an American lap dance move. However, it has come to my attention, via PRI’s The World, that the twerk is in fact an appropriation of a banned-for-being-too-sexy dance move from Ivory Coast, where it is called the “mapouka.” “Mapouka” apparently translates as “butt dance,” …. It is itself the appropriation of an older traditional ceremonial dance. But the story of twerking just gets better:
      [T]here was a twerking song that preceded the mapouka. It was recorded in Congo when it was still Zaire. The dance was the kwassa-kwassa. When it came out, it was so shocking that onlookers would ask in French, “what is that?” or C’est quoi ça? And thus was born the kwassa-kwassa.

      The video (in original post) is by Les Tueuses du Mapouka, or “Mapouka killer-ladies”. Unfortunately, I cannot get behind this video. Although it documents some pretty world-class butt-dancing, like all graphic representations of women in any media anywhere, it does so from the Male Gaze point of view. It’s got those lo-fi, porny crotch-zooms, and you never once see the dancers’ faces. That goddam Male Gaze is deadly. Through its relentless enpornulational entitlement, it has ruined the butt-dance for everyone.”

      I would never call it feminist, but I don’t think it’s awful or without spirit (depending who is doing it, or why). Just my opinion of course!

      • Sabine

        When it’s done by women desperate to appear sexy and feel validated by and lusted over by men…yep, it looks ridiculous. Nothing wrong with a joyous, free-spirited butt-dance but that’s not what we’re talking about here!

      • 45lut

        Just because it originated in the Zaïre it doesn’t make it any less sexist. It was born to appease men all the same.

      • “Through its relentless enpornulational entitlement, it has ruined the butt-dance for everyone.”

        I will admit that I am expert on the history of twerking, but I fail to see how anything that could reasonablely be referred to as a “butt-dance” rather than simply a dance, could be empowering. I do not think that we should be obsessing over people’s butts, regardless of whether that obsession is sexual or not. We should be focussing on people’s humanity, which can indeed be expressed through dance, but not through butts alone. Scrutinising people’s physical features (in a way that has nothing to do with maintaining health) is harmful and any dance that drew attention to a particular feature, rather than the person as a whole, would be encouraging that scrutiny.

        Maybe twerking did emerge from something that was not degrading, but if this is the case, then that non-degrading thing would not be a “butt-dance”, it would be one of the many human-dances that exist in the world.

        • I meant to say that I am not an expert on twerking, my mistake. Hope I didn’t seem too arrogant.

          • Sabine

            I.R. You never sound arrogant to me, just completely sane and rational! It’s possible to include a bit of butt shaking when dancing that is non-sexualized. I mean, it’s just another part of the body to move about along with everything else. It’s even possible to dance without it having to be sexual or provocative at all but simply joyous and all about oneself and not an audience – not that you’d know it these days! I have seen tribal dancing and dancing in women’s groups (in which I have partaken) where the butt is involved but it’s definitely not being done in a sexual manner and the male gaze doesn’t come into it, internalized (generally) or not. But this is absolutely NOT the case with twerking or pretty much any of the dance moves most mainstream female pop idols engage in or indeed much of the dancing in clubs, etc. these days. Women are practicing moves straight out of strip clubs that are intentionally sexualized for the enjoyment of men. Empowerment doesn’t come into anything that is to do with an ego performance and the feeling of having “power” over men’s lust and the “adoration” of an audience (in the case of Bey/Miley, ad infinitum); it’s completely removed from what anybody else might think or feel which is why it feels EMPOWERING!

  • Absolutely at a loss as to where to start to be honest.

    Cultural Appropriation sounds like a good point. White women commenting on a white women’s comment on a part of black culture usurped by capitalism. Could it get any more classic? I suppose a South East Asian woman, born in Pakistan and now a Brit, commenting on white women commenting on black culture may take the biscuit!

    Oh yeah…white women telling black women how the male gaze taints their whole existence with a filter of submissive sexuality while feeling no compulsion to take off said filters from their own eyes.

    Finally…Annie was not talking about Beyonce per se but the parade of sexual displays being sold as empowerment, possibly the end all and be all of it…*twerking* has simply become the catch all for it. She has previously spoken out about it when Miley Cyrus cranked up selling ass over selling talent. Google it!

    I do feel that artists and feminists alike can learn a thing or two from actually listening to what Annie Lennox is trying to say rather than firing off tweets and blogs on their trigger points.

    I understand what you are trying to say however it may have served better to sit back and digest what the *sex-positive* or *black* feminists are trying to say rather than trying to define what feminism is.

    Over my years I have had the opportunity to learn from and work alongside feminists both academic and practitioners/activists indeed including artists and the one thing I do not recall any of them doing is trashing the other let alone spending all their energy doing it. That the two have a symbiotic relationship has been the case since the start of *modern* feminism with Caroline Norton.

    • Meghan Murphy

      “Oh yeah…white women telling black women how the male gaze taints their whole existence with a filter of submissive sexuality while feeling no compulsion to take off said filters from their own eyes.”

      Well, yeah… In many ways the male gaze and the objectification does “taint” women’s existence. It sucks…

      “Annie was not talking about Beyonce per se but the parade of sexual displays being sold as empowerment, possibly the end all and be all of it…*twerking* has simply become the catch all for it. She has previously spoken out about it when Miley Cyrus cranked up selling ass over selling talent. Google it!”

      Yes, I realize that. She was critical of *both* Beyonce *and* twerking. I linked to Cyrus as an example in my commentary, not Beyonce. Beyonce is not synonymous with twerking. Like, at all. What is your point?

      “I understand what you are trying to say however it may have served better to sit back and digest what the *sex-positive* or *black* feminists are trying to say rather than trying to define what feminism is.”

      I have been “digesting” “sex-positive feminism” for some time now and it remains undigestible (too processed?).
      (For your reference https://feministcurrent.com/tag/sex-positive-feminism/)

      “Over my years I have had the opportunity to learn from and work alongside feminists both academic and practitioners/activists indeed including artists and the one thing I do not recall any of them doing is trashing the other let alone spending all their energy doing it.”

      Who’s “trashing”? I like Beyonce. But her feminism is “lite”, if you want to put it that way.
      http://www.vancouverobserver.com/news/feminism-needs-more-moment-lessons-beyonce-emma-watson

      Re: “digest[ing] what *black* feminists have to say,” I’m with bell hooks on this one.

      • Please no one “digest” sex pozzie bull shit. It is spirit crushing, life destroying, humanity degrading, cock pleasing nastiness. The further anyone stays away from it, the better.

        The ONLY thing you need to know is that it is porn doode and MRA dreams dressed up in girl power. Nothing could ruin feminism more than this, it’s misogyny packaged for young women!!!

        Not every idea is worth studying.

        • The Maddona/Whore dichotomy was created in order to enslave women. Pray tell how the same will help liberate us?

        • “cock pleasing nastiness”

          Ya know…unless you’ve come up with a better or as good as mechanism for the continual of the species than the whole balls/cock>>>cunt/womb thing…maybe do well to bear in mind that it does no more good to make *cock* a dirty word than it does to do the same to *cunt*.

          Also…a future in which men have been reduced to sperm donors is no more utopian than now where on large swathes of the earth women are reduced to wombs.

          The matriarchy will serve no one any better than the patriarchy has done. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

          And yes…every idea is worth studying lest we be throwing babies out with bath waters or nursing snakes through winter…;)

          • jo

            Wait what how did your brain go from reading “twerking isn’t feminism” to thinking “matriarchy is as bad as patriarchy – also P.S. cunts”?

          • “The matriarchy will serve no one any better than the patriarchy has done. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

            Tell that to the BDSM community.

            And while you are doing that, tell it to the pornography industry as well and the liberals who brag about how they are rising up the ranks of the sex industry, as well as other industries.

            If anyone is advocating a “matriarchy” that strongly resembles a patriarchy, then it is them.

      • “Who’s “trashing”? I like Beyonce. But her feminism is “lite”, if you want to put it that way.”

        Let us put it this way…hierarchies have served no good for civilisation thus far (btw I am currently grooving on Lierre Keith and Civilisation itself has become a dirty word…though in honesty it has been for a while now.)

        Any who…Occam’s Razor and all that. Feminism is a Movement through space and time that’s been gathering pace since Caroline Norton as I mentioned before. Let’s not go around trying to close the gates and deciding what is in and what is out…hence *trashing*…also remember Handmaiden’s Tale and the thrown away people?

        Last couple of days I’ve been thinking…wonder how many appreciate that the whole *Slut Walks* thing, which we were all so passionate about back then did actually manage to burst open the whole *clothes cause rape* discourse…nobody really gives them the credit for that one.

        I have been “digesting” “sex-positive feminism” for some time now and it remains undigestible (too processed?).</blockquote?

        Possibly…may want to start in Sumeria with Ninlil (latterly Lilith) and then through to Innana

        http://www.gatewaystobabylon.com/

        • Meghan Murphy

          “Let us put it this way…hierarchies have served no good for civilisation thus far”

          It’s not about hierarchy… It’s about ideology and our ability and/or willingness to make connections and think critically about our own behaviour and about social norms and the context within which those norms are developed and the choices we make as a result.

          “Let’s not go around trying to close the gates and deciding what is in and what is out…”

          Ok… Who is doing that re: Beyonce?? You’re creating a straw man…

          Re: Slutwalk, I really don’t feel like rehashing arguments I made years ago, so for your reference:

          https://feministcurrent.com/category/slutwalk/

          Certainly I don’t need education on sex-positive feminism… I’ve been doing this for a while now…

    • Sabine

      How do you know the race of everybody commenting here? And what has race got to do with twerking? Annie Lennox mentioning Beyoncé in this instance has got nothing to do with race. A woman selling sex over talent is a woman selling sex over talent regardless of the colour of her skin.

      • “The discussion then moved from over-sexualization more generally to focus on Beyonce. “Some people will know that you specifically criticized Beyonce for this the other day,” prompted Inskeep. “Well, I didn’t specifically criticize Beyonce,” noted Lennox. “I was being asked about Beyonce in the context of feminism, and I was thinking at the time about very impactful feminists that have dedicated their lives to the movement of liberating women and supporting women at the grass roots, and I was saying, ‘well that’s one end of the spectrum, and then you have the other end of the spectrum.'”

        Annie did not bring up Beyonce at all, in fact it sounds like she skilfully manoeuvred away from pinning anything to any name at all.

        • Sabine

          How is this quote proving your point about race being involved? I do not understand…

    • Mar Iguana

      Caroline Norton started “modern” feminism?! Hardly. Here’s what she thought of the 19th-century women’s movement and women’s suffrage: “The natural position of woman is inferiority to man. Amen! That is a thing of God’s appointing, not of man’s devising. I believe it sincerely, as part of my religion. I never pretended to the wild and ridiculous doctrine of equality.”

      “Cultural Appropriation sounds like a good point. White women commenting on a white women’s comment on a part of black culture usurped by capitalism.”

      Twerking is brought to us by black pimps, not black culture. The first time I saw this obscene humping movement was in the 1999 HBO documentary “Pimps Up, Hos Down,” about the pimp lifestyle: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wr4j2qswac4 . Appalling, to understate. The first time I saw the asshole poser-pimp Ice T was in this documentary, so when he showed up playing a detective in Law and Order: Special Victims it sickened me to think of him smirking all the way to the bank while portraying a detective rescuing sexually abused women/girls.

      So much behavior has been imposed on women because of prostitution: Twerking; shaving legs and armpits, demanded by the boys after returning from WWI because that’s what French prostituted women were doing; pubic hair shaving, sickeningly pedophiliac and a reflection of sexually insecure men’s desperate need to infantilize and debase women.

  • Brava, Annie Lennox.

    Empowerment can be very meaningful. One of the times I heard it resonate was at a conference where I was working, about putting an end to sexual violence in armed conflicts.

    The women from Rwanda call it “capacitation” in French; as you may know, after the genocide, women took on a much more important role in that country.

    But is has nothing whatsoever to do with twerking.

  • You always kill it, Meghan.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Thanks Colleen!

  • I’ll say a word in defense of twerking. I’m one of those people who had to go look it up a year or two ago, whenever it was when I finally first heard about it.

    The video showed an extraordinarily fit and graceful woman demonstrating the moves. So I tried them.

    ZOMG.

    That takes *serious* *huge* leg and butt strength. Twerking in the privacy of your living room would be outstanding aerobic and strengthening exercise.

    Other uses for it? Can’t think of any.

  • lo

    “twerking can be empowering! It can also be exploitative. While I’m making definitive statements about a complex topic”
    lol I love how she didn’t even explain how and why twerking was empowering and feminist.
    Oh yes must be because “Beyoncé chooses the choice to make the choice to twerk. And twerking is a “choice”, power everywhere through choices!!!”

    Also libfem don’t understand that this trend of “I’am a FEMINIST!!! i can do whatever I want!!!” is just plain marketing to sell an image. It’s kinda sad that feminism has not just become apolitical, but is also reduced to a trendy concept, just like an edible product: people are only interested because it’s “cool”, once the trend is over, they probably won’t be interested anymore and the only thing they’ll remember of feminism are concepts that are not feminist à la “slut shaming” and “empowering choices”.

    It reminds me of the letter Sinead O’connor wrote to Miley Cyrus, people said she was “slut shaming” Cyrus.
    Seriously what do “slut shaming” and “empowerment” even mean? Both concept are used as magical words to avoid all debate and stigmatize whoever “dares” criticizing the entertainment/capitalist industry. Especially “empowerment”, this word is used everywhere (not just in feminism), and yet I didn’t find any clear definition of it (I guess that’s because they don’t even understand what power/oppression means).
    So I really wonder how libfem would define those concepts. Because even when some of them try to define those concepts, you can clearly see that it just doesn’t make sense, sometimes they don’t even how to justify the use of these concepts in a debate.

  • ibleedpurple

    I think I might have posted on “empowerment” before but it bears repeating that this concept emerged from economics and was designed to heighten worker productivity. One “empowerment” strategy which many people will be aware of is strategically renaming jobs in low-skilled labour markets in an effort to imbue them with more responsibility (read: power) than they can really offer. Having a different title is supposed to make you feel better about your (shit) job and less ashamed. However, employees are usually not dumb enough to fall for this trick and neither should feminists.

  • anne cameron

    Thank you. All of you. I’m seventy-six and I was feeling a tad “down” about the state of the women’s movement and young women and… I take it all back! The movement is alive and well and being represented by some really incredible young warrior women!

    To swipe a term from my granddaughters “You rock”. All of you. Annie Lennox has been trailblazing for years, she’s almost an icon. It’s reassuring and vindicating to read so many younger women can understand what Annie is all about.

    Good on ya’s.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Thanks anne! Solidarity.

    • Anne, the young women here during the student spring (which lasted almost till the winter) were most impressive indeed, and really not taking any crap from their “brothers” in the movement. There are a few books and some articles about that, but I don’t know if any have been translated into English. It is so harder to get funding for that now (also meaning less interesting work for lagatta).

      This continued with Idle No More, which as you know very well is essentially led by young women.

  • anne cameron

    Hi Lagatta!! I’m living on the west coast of Vancouver Island in a small village of less than three hundred people, most of them retired or semi-retired. No industry. Life is quiet but interesting… it isn’t unusual to see a black bear sauntering down the road and right now we have a huge flock of rare gray-breasted geese who have been showing up the past three winters. They are so “tame” (or ignorant or unaware or…???) that drivers have to stop their cars, get out and “shoo” the geese off the road in order to go past them. Yesterday the rare darlings settled in my front yard and in no time flat had the grass basically ploughed and uprooted.
    Hey, it’s better than the city alternative.
    I KNEW you’d still be involved and working for a better world.

    • Yes, it is great to hear from you, anne, and of course I remember all your chronicles about life in your village. Sounds lovely but I’m a city mouse, or rather, a citykitty. Don’t drive for one thing.

      Yes, still very involved; attending an antiwar demo on Sunday; will there be more CSIS agents than demonstrators? And of course in le Réseau écosocialiste. I’ve tagged along on Red Square marches and Idle No More events, but I’m far too old to take a major role in the former, and not Indigenous enough to do so in the latter. There really is a lot of new blood in terms of committed young feminists. I wouldn’t call them either “radical” or “liberal”, certainly not the latter.

      And I’m terribly sad about skdadl. (Feminist Current sisters, read babble (rabble) or bread and roses for the story).

  • mauritia

    I’ve always had a ton of respect for Annie Lennox and what she said about Beyonce doesn’t change my opinion at all. Do not see the big fuss over her comments.

    Sometimes I get excited when I see how much people talk about feminism on your typical pop sites like Buzzfeed (ugh) or whatever, but then I realize the only part they seem to have figured out is slut-shaming. All of feminism has pretty much been reduced to women’s right to wear miniskirts and get laid.

  • Well, yeah… In many ways the male gaze and the objectification does “taint” women’s existence. It sucks…

    I did say take the filters off…

    Lets get away from twerking and move on to the art of dance itself and I shall tell you a story. Of a land that is part of this mother earth of ours that was terrorised by a demon seemingly invincible because each drop of its blood created a clone. So the goddess created Kali, who stretched her tongue over the earth and licked up each drop of blood pouring from Raktabīja’s body and devoured his duplicates into her gaping mouth.

    Ultimately, Raktabīja was annihilated.

    I copied pasted last bit ^^^ from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raktavija

    Anyway after that Kali danced a dance of victory…which is why we so often see her like this;

    http://www.thebuddhagarden.com/images/statues/hindu/kali-13inch.jpg

    The bit not often told is that the male lying under her is not the demon but her husband because;

    Once Kali had destroyed all the demons in battle, she began a terrific dance out of the sheer joy of victory. All the worlds or lokas began to tremble and sway under the impact of her dance. So, at the request of all the Gods, Shiva himself asked her to desist from this behavior. However, she was too intoxicated to listen. Hence, Shiva lay like a corpse among the slain demons in order to absorb the shock of the dance into himself. When Kali eventually stepped upon Shiva, she realized she was trampling and hurting her husband and bit her tongue in shame.[42]

    The story described here is a popular folk tale and not described or hinted in any of the puranas. The puranic interpretation is as follows:

    Once, Parvati asks Shiva to chose the one form among her 10 forms which he likes most. To her surprise, Shiva reveals that he is most comfortable with her Kali form, in which she is bereft of her jewellery, her human-form, her clothes, her emotions and where she is only raw, chaotic energy, where she is as terrible as time itself and even greater than time.[43] As Parvati takes the form of Kali, Shiva lies at her feet and requests her to place her foot on his chest, upon his heart.[44] Once in this form, Shiva requests her to have this place, below her feet in her iconic image which would be worshipped throughout.[45]

    But I sort of digress…point is if anyone can point me to more powerful depiction of female power than Innana/Ishtar and Kali, both dancers…I would be surprised.

    And I really would like someone to explain to me precisely what is sexualised or objectified for the male gaze in the awesome display of female physical strength and dexterity in the form that is this video but truly kicks off at 2:47?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQ9BWndKEgs

    Why is this any less or more feminist than a female athlete? or Buffy the Vampire Slayer or River Tam?

    • Yes I specifically used those two characters not because they are Joss Whedon’s but because both their fighting styles were based on dance, with Summer Glau atleast being a trained dancer.

      ps I can’t figure out the quotes and/or keep screwing up the tags…sorry.

    • Meghan Murphy

      You don’t see the objectification or sexualization in Miley Cyrus’ twerking? Or Amber Rose’s? Really?

      • Now who is putting up straw-people? lol I asked you about that specific video.

        • Meghan Murphy

          What specific video? We’re talking about the OP, here. Can we please stay on topic?

      • Sabine

        Are we supposed to be viewing Miley, et al, as Hindu goddesses now? Funny, that’s not an association that sprang to mind when I saw Ms. Cyrus on stage grinding her barely covered arse into misogynist tosser Robin Thicke’s crotch with her tongue stuck out in its default position. It’s worth noting that the Hindu belief in these kick-ass deities does not result in respect by men for actual living, breathing women nor does it reduce the truly staggering number of rapes in India. The worship of Kali does not in any way improve the lot of women within India’s shockingly sexist society. If a woman is sexually accosted by a man it’s called “Eve Teasing” as if it’s just a silly little game and not to be taken remotely seriously. And since when are all forms of dance impervious to the objectification of women? Pole dancers might be enviably strong and fit but this doesn’t detract from the reality they are doing naked acrobatics specifically to arouse men, i.e. they are being sexually objectified. Female power does not enter into it just because they are “dancers”. (????)

        • Meghan Murphy

          Exactly. Of course pole-dancers are extremely strong, skilled, and athletic. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a strip show and it doesn’t mean the purpose isn’t to perform to the male gaze.

  • And returning to the source article;

    http://www.buzzfeed.com/kimberleydadds/annie-lennox-has-branded-beyonce-feminist-lite

    The two important points to highlight are that Annie Lennox was speaking about Feminism and the cross over with the music industry and in all instance she was prompted to speak specifically about Beyonce and generally steered away from a specific person or even criticism.

    And unlike Buzzfeed’s summary she doesn’t seem to be slamming anyone.

    I would call that “feminist lite.” L-I-T-E. I’m sorry. It’s tokenistic to me. I mean, I think she’s a phenomenal artist – I just love her performances – but I’d like to sit down (with her). I think I’d like to sit down with quite a few artists and talk to them. I’d like to listen to them; I’d like to hear what they truly think.

    Is what she actually said.

    My point is simply this. A mock conflict is being created from Annie Lennox’s very considered thoughts on a topic she is very well suited to comment on, from an experienced wise woman’s call for discourse. Don’t feed it by commenting on knee jerk reactions to ill considered comments. Do both your audience and the women you are writing about the courtesy of summarising what was actually said and commenting on that.

    Discourse is good. Earlier in the interview Annie says;

    Q: As a longtime feminist, how do you feel about the way the term “feminist” has been reframed in contemporary culture?

    It’s a process. It continues to be reframed, and necessarily so, because people’s relationship to the word has been a bit ambivalent over the last few decades. According to who you speak to, they don’t sometimes quite know what to do with the word. I did one event in particular called (Barclays) Women of the Year and they select certain people for certain kinds of recognition, and I was given an award not so long ago. I was so touched to have this award. I felt like I’m with a certain kind of camaraderie here and we’re all together in this room – 400 women from all walks of life – and I said at the podium, “I’m proud to be a feminist; let’s everybody stand up.” Half of the room stayed seated. It was such a hard moment for me because I realized that some women, many women, still have issues with the word and almost distance themselves from it because they’re afraid it’s synonymous with hating men.

    And personally I would start the conversation with asking what then is wrong with women who presumably do not hate men e.g the pop artists under discussion proudly proclaiming to be feminist?

    • Forgot to say that I learnt as much from Annie singing Sweet Dreams as I felt liberated by singing/dancing along to anything Beyonce released so I would really rather that us, feminists, were not participating in the Chinese whispers in the hopes of a jello fight because I would quite like to hear the discussion.

    • also posted wrong link…source article is obviously…http://www.pridesource.com/article.html?article=68228

    • Meghan Murphy

      “And unlike Buzzfeed’s summary she doesn’t seem to be slamming anyone.”

      Yes. I know. That was my point.

      “My point is simply this. A mock conflict is being created from Annie Lennox’s very considered thoughts on a topic she is very well suited to comment on, from an experienced wise woman’s call for discourse. Don’t feed it by commenting on knee jerk reactions to ill considered comments. Do both your audience and the women you are writing about the courtesy of summarising what was actually said and commenting on that.”

      What? Don’t comment on people’s reactions, misconceptions, misunderstandings, misrepresentations, etc? Ok. That makes no sense to me. I am not interested in perpetuating a faux-was between Lennox and Beyonce and I haven’t. I’ve tried to talk people off the “Annie Lennox hates Beyonce and sex!” ledge. Maybe you’re making your arguments to the wrong folks… You also seem to have changed your argument, which was initially to say that we were uneducated and needed to digest what ‘sex positive’ and black feminists were saying, re: twerking and Beyonce, whereas now it seems you are arguing that I am feeding a faux-conflict, which I don’t think I am — I think I was doing the opposite, which is to say there is no conflict and that what Lennox said was perfectly reasonable and certainly not an attack on Bey.

      “And personally I would start the conversation with asking what then is wrong with women who presumably do not hate men e.g the pop artists under discussion proudly proclaiming to be feminist?”

      I’m not sure what you mean by this…

      • Is there a single point per commentator limit?

        • Meghan Murphy

          Nope. Just trying to keep the conversation productive as opposed to nonsensical.

      • Sabine

        Samea, have you actually read the post you are so prolifically commenting on? I can’t keep up with all these contradictions and the apparent confusion on your part as to what has been very succinctly communicated by Meghan. You’re coming across as simply spoiling for a fight by continually changing your position and seeing arguments where there are none. What is it you are actually trying to say?

        • Meghan Murphy

          Trolling 101.

          • I repeat…I do not think your aim with this article was to come across all mean girl…as much as this comment of yours says otherwise.

          • Meghan Murphy

            I don’t know what gave you the impression I care if I come off as a ‘mean girl.’

        • It would help if you could highlight where you see contradictions in my comments.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Stop wasting everyone’s time please. It is not their job to teach you how to have a conversation.

          • Sabine

            Nope. It wouldn’t help and it would take far more time and will to live than I have at the prospect of trawling through all that trolling. Give it a rest, you’ve been rumbled.

  • So anyway…if I may now, from the point of view of the whore, address the core of the *sex sells* and the morality of whoring issues, so to speak…being that sex sells itself like hot cakes…so it should not be done.

    Now riddle me this…if I may, while living donate various parts of me such as blood, hair, kidneys, bone marrow then why may I not rent out my pussy as a parking space for a cock?

    Not trying to gross people out…lets just call it what it is eh…;)

    • Meghan Murphy

      HOLY DERAIL BATMAN. Please go back and read this whole blog and all the comments. We are not rehashing this basic argument for the 1000th time (unless someone feels so inclined to address, but certainly don’t feel obligated…).

      • One would think that if you have answered it 9,999 time before you have it down pat to a sound bite…:)

        • Meghan Murphy

          Cut the derails. Last warning.

  • And kindly do not misunderstand me. Commercial(ised) sex is as fatal to humanity as commercialised anything…but shutting out the voice of whores (and yes I will use that term…) is not the way to go about eliminating the harm of the sex trades as it is now. And yes, in part mainstream culture is part of the sex trades.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Byeeeeeeee

  • Sorry I forgot to say…I really don’t think that coming across as a snarky valley girl setting all the mean girls on the sexpozzies (oh-so-close to prozzies eh…;) ) was your aim with this article.

    But tbh…telling some people to *get over it* is not exactly a big enough point to write a whole article on…Like, obviously.

    • Meghan Murphy

      OK CANCEL FEMINIST CURRENT, TEAM. COMMENTING ON MEDIA/PEOPLE’S MISINTERPRETATIONS OF FEMINISM IS NOT WORTHWHILE. WHY ARE YOU ALL READING THIS ANYWAY? CLEARLY NOBODY CARES. DEF NOT EVERY SINGLE MEDIA OUTLET THAT COVERED THIS IN A GARBAGE WAY AND THE ENTIRE FEMINIST INTERNET. NOBODY CARES, BACK TO BED.

    • Lee

      What if you just had the integrity to be honest about what is really bothering you about the post? You enjoy objectification, and you don’t like it criticized or looked at in a more thoughtful way than, “Sex is awesome.”. It sure would be a more interesting discussion.

  • Sabine

    “Samea Khan”: Please go and troll elsewhere, it’s become seriously boring.

  • Naida

    This is more a general comment than a comment about this article, but this article stands for what I like about this whole page: Being analyst and spot-on in a very humorous, sarcastic way. And especially being critical about women’s bodies exploitation, sexualized presentation and objectification without using conservative, moralist arguments. I think you mentioned it somewhere, namely how radfems would make you feel bad for looking feminine (in a conventional way) and I’ve encountered that, too, but I still like calling myself a radical feminist, although I don’t feel welcome in some of their places. Feminism has become somehow random, exchangeable when you can label everything you do as feminist, be it prostitution, porn, pole dancing, “slutwalking”. I mean, if everything is feminist, why do we need feminism then? I don’t feel ashamed at all to confess that there are things I do for the male gaze, but at least, I’m honest about it. I don’t run around screaming “choices”, “empowerment”, etc in everyone’s face when the truth is that many of these choices would look differently without male population on this planet. Germany (where I come from) is way too libfem, this is why I’m even more glad about this blog. So thank you very much for the very best that online feminism has to offer.