Tag Archives: normalization

Lily Allen’s “Hard Out Here”: Racially questionable feminist pop

In her comeback single, Lily Allen satirizes the standards with which the music industry and society pressure women. The video opens with Allen on a surgery table defending her body to her male manager and doctors who say she let herself go (“Um, I had two babies”). The song goes on to discuss about the pressures on women to be thin while having a booty, being able to cook and be beautiful.

A highlight of the video is Allen’s balloon banner, a la “Robin Thicke has a big dick” in the casually sexist rape culture-promoting anthem that is “Blurred Lines, which here reads “Lily Allen has a baggy pussy.” Lily Allen certainly does not care what men think of her or her body.

But perhaps this is exclusive “white girl feminism,” because while Lily Allen is asserting the difficulties of being a woman in a male-dominated world, she still surrounds herself with women of color who are subjected to the same objectification that that men do. The women of color twerk and dance sexually, get champagne poured on them and get money thrown on them. I get that Allen is intentionally put in the “male” role, but it leaves me questioning the video in terms of race. Because even if it is satire, it is still an outlet for the continued ogling by men at these sexualized and objectified colored bodies. Is this “ironic” piece just racist? Because Allen is essentially accessorizing black bodies like Miley Cyrus does while tearing down what popstars like Cyrus deal with in the industry.

In terms of raising issues of gender inequality, this song succeeds, but many have seen it as racially insensitive. In the end I think that it is all satire, given Allen’s penchant for severely biting sarcasm. Unfortunately the music industry does use women of color as booty-shaking objects, and while I think this knowingly pokes fun at that, it still leaves me a bit uncomfortable. I would love for someone to respond.