Friday, October 4, 2013


Rihanna On My Mind: Chatting About the "Pour It Up" Video

The other day, after Rihanna's new video for "Pour It Up" came out (embedded below, NSFW), we started chatting about it on Twitter. There was too much to say. Here, we discuss why Rihanna is better than Miley, why Rihanna is better than Nicki, and why Rihanna is better than Jesus.

This conversation took place in a Google Hangout and has been condensed and edited.

Sarah Nicole Prickett: Hii, does this work?

Ayesha Siddiqi: Yes! I see you both on here.

SNP: So this Rihanna video is AMAZING, but let's start from Instagram. Riri’s instagram is how I know she's a girl's girl and it's why I love her. When I started following her it was because she was posting all half-naked selfies, piles of weed, cash, hotel rooms, and highlighted Bible passages (for real). I was telling Ayesha how bad I wish I could find this one photo of her with three other girls on motorbikes in a parking lot. The Real Spring Breakers.

Susan Elizabeth Shepard: Whereas I would think, "Oh, god, Rihanna takes pictures in the strip club, how rude." But I quickly was schooled that in black strip clubs, there is NOTHING like the prohibition on photography that there is in white/mixed clubs. But I'll say up front that I don't follow her on Instagram, nor am I a fan. I have always been low-grade annoyed by her songs, which I hear daily. I can still tell you where I was the first time I heard "SOS" and was like "ugh, irritating."

SNP: Really?? Where were you, Susan?


SNP: Because I remember being in j-school in Toronto and completely adoring "SOS," but I get it (I think?). Rihanna's songs are meant to make mall girls feel like strippers. If you’re already a stripper, they’re redundant.

AS: Susan, I thought the same thing, I went from irritated by her music, to indifferent, to into it just because of her personal brand.

SNP: Which actually brings me to a good point: I am way more interested in realness than truth. Also money, not power.

AS: OK, those are interesting distinctions. How do you think one outweighs the other? Is realness just authenticity anyone can appreciate, whereas truth is subjective to each person?

SNP: So there's money, then power, then, ultimately, class. Class is the least revocable of the three. And to answer your question, Ayesha, about realness and truth, I think, sure, authenticity is contiguous with experience, and I think of realness as experiential. Maybe meaningful. Truth as ideological. To be very simplistic for starters. I think Rihanna is classy as fuck, but I love her because she does not aspire to class.

AS: I'm with you so far.

SNP: And I feel like Rihanna has solidarity. Maybe that's too wishful/ cheesy/ "nice" to say, but I felt like she had (this word again!) a basic respect for bitches who get their own. It wasn't "look at them"; it was "look at us, we out here," etc… Am I wrong?

SES: It does feel like that.

AS: I've been thinking about how she went from dance music popstar to this irrevocably bad bitch (not always mutually exclusive). And on the way there was this turn towards hyper-sexual aggression that I always interpreted as a way to buck the victim narrative she found herself in after Chris Brown. Now she's settled in this really affirmative (for her fans and certainly for herself) self love femme power icon status thats wholly independent of men in the equation.

SES: Yeah, and the exclusion of men in the presentation is baller.

SNP: Yes. Also she shot a man, don't forget. Like, in the “Man Down" video. In “Pour It Up” it feels like she shot ALL THE MEN.

SES: Like "still got my money" is exactly the opposite of the guy spending it all at the club.

SNP: Rihanna is both Stripper and Customer: DISCUSS.

SES: Rihanna would rather be tricking than being a trick.

AS: It goes back to the money/ power/ agency. She doesn’t buy into traditional gender roles of music. She is having her cake and eating it too, omg.

SES: CAKE CAKE CAKE. She also doesn't even want to use the actual money that we use and MADE HER OWN [as in, printed her own Rihanna dollars for the video]. I just hope people realize how unusual this video is. Or that they don't at all, and just feel vaguely unsettled. Do y'all think she consciously said "this video will have no men" or was she not even thinking of that, thinking, "this video will be me and two badass strippers"?

SNP: I don't think she thought about men. Usually she works with Anthony Mandler on her videos; for this one she hired a new guy. And (did you get that link I emailed you?) they fought over "creative differences.” My guess, because I’ve known enough guys in my life, is he thought the video was too raunchy, not "tasteful" enough. Almost every guy I’ve slept with has watched “safer” porn than I do.

So, this director tweeted "Rihanna fans, I'm no longer working on this video, I took my name off the project.” And she writes back, "you can take your name off the check." I MEAN. This is the first Ri video with not only no men in the video but also no man's name on the video.

SES: How long did it take y'all to realize it was dude-free? I mean once I got to the last :30 or so I was like, "oh, please, let it remain so."

AS: I don't know, it was the way the strippers were filmed: very clearly displaying their athleticism and dance skill for their own sake, not to titillate an audience (and there wasn't one in the world of the video).

SNP: Yeah, I kept waiting for the moment when she walks out like the Marchesa de Casati with two men instead of leopards on leashes. You know—that Beyoncé-type moment, that Britney moment, from "Run the World" and "Work Bitch," respectively. It's also a Madonna thing, and Gaga. Everyone's doing this S&M fauxpowerment shit, and Rihanna's like, nah, I’m chill.

The achievement is not to dominate men, but simply to not need them in order to succeed, feel good, have a good time, etc. She gets on the stripper pole herself. I feel like Rihanna could strip.

SES: She looks just like a baby stripper.

AS: I completely agree with the idea of her solidarity. That’s what brought me on board with her, and that’s what makes her different in a way from Nicki Minaj: being a girl’s girl versus being one of the guys.

SES: Mm hmm. In the "Beez In The Trap" video, Nicki positions herself as a customer. She’s gazing at the strippers, not identifying with them. Rihanna aligning herself with the strippers instead of the customers is a pretty powerful image.

AS: Nicki leans in.

SNP: I was thinking about Nicki. Her crew is pretty male.

AS: And so is the way she talks about other women. And Nicki is in competition with other girls, she made it. They didn’t. Sucks to their assmar.

SNP: But I was looking more so at the all-female videos done by Beyoncé, then Britney, and so on. They're not the opposite, but the videos you get from Kid Sister and Angel Haze offer up a very different portion of the power spectrum.

I don't think girls totally dress for other girls—in my world, at least—but we learned to dance for other girls, for sure. The way girls dance in circles at the club is so (and I rarely use this word so I'm allowed!) POWERFUL.

SES: The Power Of Cockblocking.

AS: I think to be a fan of Nicki you have to identify with her, while to be a fan of Rihanna you're a fan of yourself.

SNP: Are you paraphrasing Kanye? Yeah. Selfie love forever.

AS: Right, it's about solidarity, female power, selfie love.

SNP: Nicki's thing is like, "I'm a woman, but I'm gonna act the same as a man, so you better treat me the same as a man. I'm not a bitch, I'm a boss."

AS: Nicki is about winning the boys game, which I'd argue is much lonelier. Rihanna changes the game (ew, cliche, but whatever).

SNP: Which I do appreciate, and it's important here to note the differences between rap game and pop game. The rap game is a boys' game, still, but the pop game is a girls' game... forever?

AS: Exactly. Nicki sticks to the framework of the patriarchy.

SES: Ah, I think you hit the nail on the head. Presenting power as acting like a man versus power as being a woman. Winning the game versus rejecting it.

SNP: Rihanna's thing is, "I am pure girl-id, deal with it."

AS: It's definitely worth comparing pop and rap here: I think you're right, pop allows greater leverage to write the rules as a woman than the rap game does, especially if you're a rapper whose success was tied as much to cosigns from males as your own talent. Like, Nicki can outrap men, but the men had to allow her to join them in the first place. I'm thinking of Lil Wayne here and how much Nicki’s constantly recognizing his role in her career.

SNP: Look at the new A$AP video for "Fashion Killa." It’s Rihanna and the boys, but she's not one of them. Instead, A$AP becomes under her seductive tutelage a sort of slightly embarrassed but mostly chill Young-Girl. Like, I swear, in the magazine shop, he picks up a copy of RUSSH.

AS:  Same with Drake in "Take Care"?

SNP: Yeah! The boys are shopping with her; they're not bored outside the change room. Drake and A$AP get credit for this, too, of course. They’re generationally and otherwise distinct from Lil Wayne, their sexualities much more fluid (perhaps politically so, probably not), probably adaptive to the commercial reality.

AS: Nicki's songs are largely about her ability to service men's sexual needs, and her body's condition to do so ("million-dollar pussy" is not for self love but to outmarket other women and win the male rapper's attention). Ri stays singing about her sexual needs and demanding they get fulfilled, and then she'll ponder whether or not she's even interested in the dude.

SNP: Nicki's like Kelis in that way—and you don't blame Kelis, living in a Nas world, at the time, maybe. But how great to see Rihanna bringing all the girls to yard. Finally.

SES: There's something there that calls back to early demanding female blues singers, too.

SNP: And in a way different way than Bey, who's who I wanna talk about again: Bey and Brit, "Girls Run the World" and "Work Bitch.” Lean In vs. LEAN BACK?!

SES: Maybe it's the idea of changing receptiveness from weakness to strength? Getting it. Getting laid, getting sexual satisfaction.

AS: Oh, so the ability to recognize her sexual needs? I think for this "day and age," singing about wanting to have sex is like, OK, cool. But singing it in a way that validates all women rather than casting them as losers in the market for male attention—that’s what makes Rihanna compelling.

SES: Basically, that you don't have to act like a guy or fuck like a guy to be "strong."

AS: Totally. It’s the opposite of “I’m not like other girls.”

SNP: Rihanna is one of them [the stripping women] in this video. The choreography and camera work make it so you really can't tell who's who, sometimes, and I think that's the point; the video is almost perspectiveless.

AS: I think we all agree Ri devalues men. But I don't think it covers it to say she's "sex positive."

SNP: It’s been in the creeps of my mind this whole time, how we're gonna get in trouble for being sex-uncritical here. Sex is itself both positive and negative, always give, take, take from, taken from..

AS: That’s how I feel about the whole "sex positive/negative" thing—it's crude and simplistic.

SES: I'm happy to go on the record with "people are allowed their feelings about sex,” but also, I think sex is incredibly important and awesome, and that it is never ever a negative to know what you like and to be assertive about asking for it. And that there is no net negative to having more women say so loudly, publicly, in accessible forms.

SNP: There's no tax on sex, and it doesn't kill you. How is that not a massive social good?!

AS: Really feeling what you're both saying and it's a shame how radical it sounds compared with *gestures towards surrounding earth*.

SNP: It can be both that Rihanna has to do this to reach a certain stratosphere of fame (and income) and that Rihanna wants to and enjoys doing it. I don't think Rihanna is out to shock. Shock is a thing on the skin, over in a second. Rihanna's veins are electric. I saw a flash of her outside a fashion show in the flesh once. Granted, next to the majority of fashion people a blow-up doll could look alive. But she seemed to sweat jouissance.

SES: Ayesha, that quote about the female narcissist that you tweeted. Is this even narcissism?

AS: The word 'narcissist' gets a bad rap. To be a female narcissist is an act of political defiance comparable to not being humble as a person of color. It’s about preserving your dignity in a world where you're constantly told you aren’t shit and are expected to act accordingly.

SNP: Maybe I think of narcissism more classically. Being in love with your own image.

SES: Sure! Loving yourself. Who among us would not have sex with ourselves, after all.

SNP: But the narcissist will change her look to keep herself self-interested, to not get bored. And Rihanna's really a master chameleon, which reminds me that being a chameleon is an ultimate survival skill. But should we talk about chameleons? Or mermaids? Azealia Banks is a mermaid, and so was Anais Nin. “I must have been a mermaid… I have no fear of depths, but a great fear of shallow living.” That's Anais.

SES: The water in "Pour It Up" reminded me of how hostess clubs/ strip clubs are the "water trade" in Japan, and how water signifies money—and sex, especially female sexuality. I mean, if this were a Kanye video, people would be like, "He's walking on water. He's Jesus."

Perhaps Rihanna is the real messiah.

SNP: Who wouldn't rather be Mary Magdalene?

AS: MM was never once called a prostitute in the bible.

SNP: Speaking of MM and her perfume, how amazing is it when Rihanna talks about her branded perfume in "Pour It Up" and she says, "they love my smell." It's so perverse and delicious.

AS: Totally, and the way she says it. So much relish.

SES: We should buy it, and order pairs of Rihanna's money-print pleasers.

SNP: Umm, yes.


Sarah Nicole Prickett is a contributing editor at The New Inquiry and a writer for The Globe & Mail, Hazlitt, ViceBULLETT, The Aesthete, and more. 

Susan Elizabeth Shepard has two jobs and lives in Austin, TX.

Ayesha A. Siddiqi is a writer and contributing editor at The New Inquiry.

37 Comments / Post A Comment


Love the discussion of Nicki vs Rihanna -- they are similar, yet so different in so many ways, and I think y'all did a really good job of parsing out the differences between them. (Also having just finished Lean In, I totally see how Nicki is more of a "lean in" one-of-the-guys type girl)

Totally solidifying my love of Riri.


she is such a talented singer. i love her superstar persona in this video. so pro. im getting popular fast because i rap real.. thumbs up if you piss next to the water in the toilet so its quiet...@v


Wow I could NOT disagree more.

I think this video panders to the male gaze so completely that it's gross and disappointing. I think Rihanna IS talented and capable of being a bad-ass bitch but this video is just soft-core to sell something. I think what she's doing here is really demeaning and beneath her. And I don't think it's the stripping motif, although the song explicitly glorifies making money by stripping and if you think the vast majority of strippers aren't stripping for men, I don't know what planet you live on.

Sorry guys this video just makes me feel gross. I don't want to see Rihanna masturbating or pulling a nasty nylon swimsuit up her crotch or flapping her ass cheeks on all fours... it seems degrading and I just didn't think she had to do that to sell records what with the talent-having and such.

For contrast, I really like this video of Christina Aguilera because the video AND the song make it clear who the boss is and where the sexual power lies: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1-hVtncq3w


@iceberg Totally agree with you, I love Rihanna (music-wise also, unlike the writers of this), but I thought this video was horrible. why did it have to be so... bummy? I enjoyed this discussion, but couldn't reconcile it at all with what I was watching.
(also not super-keen on the song)


@iceberg In selling pop music talent is secondary to image-making. Plenty of people can sing but what makes pop compelling is how it makes you feel about yourself, your own aspirations, and how you relate to the story that the pop-star creates. (which is why the target audience is teens and 20 somethings who are perhaps more aesthetically self-reflective) To say she can sell records on talent alone without her incredible personal brand is both untrue and almost besides the point in discussing the way that she chooses to present herself.


@Rubyinthedust But how is this video representing her 'brand'? Almost every other Rihanna video I can think of has her standing/dancing in the centre, not particularly sexualised, and with the impression that she's going to get her way: whether she's ordering around a DJ (Pon de Replay/ Don't Stop the Music) or a lover (S&M/ Only Girl in the World/ What's My Name etc), or just expressing security and confidence (Diamonds/Umbrella/). If I had to describe her 'brand' I'd say something like 'commanding' or 'bossy' or 'in charge'. This one seems the antithesis of what I like about her.


@questingbeast I would say those 3 adjectives you chose definitely apply but also oversimplify her current image in 2013 which has certainly evolved from her early hits 5 or more years ago. I think the 3 ladies above did a good job of describing it so I won't elaborate.

The fact that you and countless other people will react to it and label it as degrading is another issue to unpack altogether. I don't agree off the bat, I see it more as so otherworldly that I haven't really formulated a clear opinion yet. Very interested in this discussion and what people think though.


@Rubyinthedust oops got confused who I was responding to, sorry!


@iceberg Yeah, I was lolling pretty hard at the "no men" part. Just because you don't see a man *in front* of the camera doesn't mean he's not there.

And it's always nice to see we can't talk about how great one woman is without putting other women down. Like, idk, radio has 24 hours to kill and my generations-old iPod has 30gig, maybe we can have multiple female pop stars? Who do things differently because they're different people?


@Rubyinthedust Firstly, not all the songs I mentioned are old- Diamonds was a year ago, S&M two. The only song compared in the article is Man Down, also 2 years old and more similar to my examples than to the new song. Secondly, I didn't say degrading, it's just icky and dull. That's why I was surprised they got an interesting article out of it.

Jennifer Culp

@questingbeast She's sitting on a throne, wearing diamonds on her boobs, singing about how she's so rich she can indulge in a number of expensive vices and still got mo' money. I'd say that's right in line with the "commanding," "bossy" and "in charge" image you describe. I'd never heard the song before watching the video earlier today (prior to reading this article), and like Ruby find it otherworldly and fascinating. On paper, the lyrics read as pure braggadocio; there's nothing to suggest explicitly that the speaker is a woman. If I had to guess by looking at the lyrics alone, I'd assume this was a song by a male rapper. Her body and aesthetic appeal in the video almost comes across to me as another asset she owns/controls, but unlike other artists she might be compared to, she doesn't bother to make claims about her sexual appeal in the song. It's just apparent.

Though I certainly wouldn't argue that strippers aren't stripping primarily for men, I don't agree that this video particularly caters to the male gaze. I watched it earlier today after following a link to a celebrity gossip site that often features paparazzi photos of celebrity women in bikinis for criticism (gross, I know, I shouldn't have given 'em a click), and scanned some of the comments after watching. The majority seemed to be written by men who were HORRIFIED by the video, writing all sorts of nasty comments about how ugly, whorish, "tranny," blahblahblah Rihanna is in the video. Her look here reveals a lot of skin, but it's garish and far from conventionally flattering. If she were attempting to appeal to men, I imagine she would choose to present herself more like she did in her early videos: long, loose, more "natural" (by which I mean color, not necessarily texture) hair, more natural-looking makeup, simpler clothing. As for the raunchy butt shaking, I thought it was so interesting that Sarah Nicole Prickett brought up the point about the men she's dated preferring "safer" porn than she does. I've noticed a (maybe?) related commonality among men of my own acquaintance when it comes to dancing; a lot of them tend to prefer less "threatening" movements and would be actively put off by overt rump shakin' like that in the video.

I still haven't completely worked out what I feel about this video, but I think Rihanna's telling me she's got the best of all worlds here. She's got the power, she's got the money, she has all the trappings of a successful rich mogul and can do whatever she wants, AND she's also got tremendous sexual appeal and power and an enviably conventionally attractive body that she can decorate the way she wants, because it's hers. Her body is both herself and one of her possessions to be shown off. She doesn't care what we think, or what men think, she's on a friggin' throne and she's always got mo' money. It's the ultimate brag, and who can argue with her?

Jennifer Culp

@Jennifer Culp Obviously this functions within the framework of our male gaze saturated society, which is where she's coming from (more so than us commoners!), but I do think she's effectively playing with gender roles and not exactly flipping them on their head, but subverting the dialogue and doing something unfamiliar and interesting.


@Jennifer Culp agreed, I think most of what makes this video (and Miley's VMA performance for that matter) interesting is that it is overtly sexual and graphic but also veers toward the grotesque which does not in fact give the general population what they want or expect from a pop icon. It's not relying on their sexuality for the basis of their appeal, rather it's making people slightly uncomfortable. Very compelling, in my opinion.

Jennifer Culp

@Rubyinthedust GROTESQUE! That's perfect; my thoughts were dancing around that but couldn't quite seize on it. The mention of Miley makes me think about her licking the sledgehammer in the Wrecking Ball video, too--I've seen tons of mentions of how gross it was, or how it made the watcher uncomfortable, but I don't think I've seen or heard a single person say something about it being sexy. It's a really interesting trend to see among pop stars who started working at a young age, whose images have been heavily shaped by the demands of their careers and handlers, seize on a sort of lewd image and performance aesthetic while making statements about seizing agency and control over their own public representations. Almost like taking the tools that were so painstakingly shaped earlier in their careers--the sex appeal and carefully crafted public images--and blowing them up and upsetting people to greater success than ever. They take the "sexy" moves and images we've come to expect from pop stars and push it to the point of vulgarity, making viewers uncomfortable ostensibly by giving them what they want. Very compelling, I agree!


@iceberg I agree with you 100%, and am waiting for the day when people realize that sexualization =/= empowerment. And that women can internalize the male gaze, so even if there are no men in that strip club, guess what? Still male gaze-y!


@klemay right? that argument made zero sense - uh hello girl-on-girl porn doesn't have any men in it either but we all know who the vast majority of it is made for!


I loved this talk. But I thought the video was kind of ummm ...literal?


Into this discussion. I am undecided. I am okay staying undecided. But this also made me realize, if men weren't allowed in strip clubs, ever and forever, I'd probably be into them.


We are distinguishing between "power" and "class" in the name of feminism? What the everloving f*ck.


@Theaz13 This discussion really loses me when it talks about how Nicki has no solidarity. Ho Chi Minh City Tours


OMG, no. This is like (sorry to get partisan here) how the GOP is attacking a Obamacare when 15 years ago it would have been on the right-of-center end of the spectrum. It's called "Losing ground".

I remember being 13. I remember being 17. I have had stripper friends. I have spent time at Safe Horizons -one of the top 5 agencies in NYC doing the work of the ANGELS in domestic violence counseling.

This is not positive messaging for young women. This isn't where I would like to see us in the teens of the new millennium. I'm sorry but no. IDGAF, RiRi strip it up as much as you like. But you're busted. If you think the ho paradigm is being "subverted" it's just not. Slut shaming is still going strong. I'd almost argue stronger than ever.

Look, I like stripping and burlesque. I think that flipping that paradigm and switching it up to the female gaze is super fun. People need to be free, and that's the bottom line. Because anything less is just basically lame. And why would you choose to be lame?

Except there's an answer to that: fear. People choose to be lame out of fear. It's SO MUCH EASIER to kowtow to the dominant paradigm than to challenge it. This video challenges no one. It is so tired. Empowered stripper bitch is no where near a new idea. Especially as presented here. It's just: the worst.

And to go a step further.... there are different cultures. And in the black underclass women struggle harder for respect than in mainstream culture (where... honestly it's already pretty disappointing that there aren't more "so-called" good men out there who are not douche, because "male culture" is still pretty douche unless it's enlightened/hipster/progressive male culture where it can totally rock and be awesome).

Women need strong positive messages. Riri is an interesting character but she's lame. She's not a strong badass chick. The context in which she can appear to be badass is one where she's already had her dick cut off, so to speak. Lost before she even started. She doesn't have balls because the game she's playing is one where she got played before she even started. Just no.

Let her be eye candy, let her be someone working her way back from domestic violence and being used by the music industry to promote rank crap, let her be someone who is finding her way and hopefully will someday. But also, what she is? Someone we can only hope is counteracted by better messages and images out there so that the damage she does (to herself and others) is minimized.

Girls and women deserve (so much) better. I say this as someone who thinks the art of the striptease is super cool, and the industry (sex/stripping/porn) is totally toxic and fucked up. And btw, big ups to healthy empowered awesome hot progressive beautiful and sexy porn. Not my thing really but I am totally a huge supporter of putting more healthy and positive porn out there into the world. Sex is natural, fun and good... and duh hugely pervasive.

I'm all for taking back the night, but this does not even come close. It's a man's world indeed. And if you play by those rules, you lose. Is is NOT a man's world, it's OUR world, that we create, daily. We write the rules that we choose to play by. We create the paradigm, and art certainly creates the paradigm. Pop culture lives in a weird place in between, and can be regressive as much as it can be progressive. Just because it's shiny doesn't mean it's new.

Amina Batyreva@facebook

@Culturecut "She's not a strong badass chick. The context in which she can appear to be badass is one where she's already had her dick cut off, so to speak. Lost before she even started. She doesn't have balls because the game she's playing is one where she got played before she even started." I don't think 'how to be a cis-male' is the game Rihanna's playing, even metaphorically.


Sorry for my vehemence, but I recently got in to a random conversation with a former pimp, who seemed like such a nice karma-friendly dude. He gave me a really big (recent) window into lives that are normally very far out of my field of vision, where poor women sometimes make the choice to work for men like he used to be... not only out of economic deprivation but emotional deprivation as well. He was fairly self-reflective about his former life, and had human respect for the women who worked for him while being perplexed that these women had allowed themselves to be so fully -- and easily -- exploited by him, when he had never helped them, and took everything they had and only used them. It's a problem when there are so many people who are so disempowered in this way, so many women. This was not an outlier situation, but more of a normalized attitude from the women. It was disturbing. And having spent time at Safe Horizons I know that it really IS a big problem. Across all socio-economic strata but especially in the underclass (white/black/hispanic/whatever)


This discussion really loses me when it talks about how Nicki has no solidarity.


I'm really glad other women found this video subversive. I usually have a visceral, knee-jerk reaction to the idea of strip clubs, and wanted to watch a video that had such bad reactions to it, expecting I too would hate it, but this video had me intrigued.

First off, as a follower of celebrity news, I knew before watching this that Rihanna goes to strip clubs, like, a lot. She's fascinated by them and has fun in them, and I think she may be bisexual.

So to watch this and realize in the middle of it that there were no men, made me think that it's an homage (like one of the interlocutors above says) to the athleticism and baddassery and sexiness of strippers. It's a fantasy representation of her experience of a kind of (obviously very problematic) form of female power.

If the strip club is a place that represents heteronormative gender relations under patriarchy in capitalist terms, Pour It Up asks what that space would be without men. The answer? A fantasy space where (as someone mentioned), Rihanna is both a customer and a stripper, a woman among women, featured as a queen, but also showing other strippers as athletic goddesses. She can revel in her narcissism here, admiring herself and other women. I mean, this video is pretty queer.

The strip club is figured as a fantasy space in a few ways. 1) Again, no men. Who are they performing for? Rihanna? Themselves? 2) All the water. Celebuzz's Gabrielle Chung describes the video as set in "the world's weirdest strip club" and "Strangely shot like it the camera lens was covered in a layer of algae." It's a fantasy space where water pours up, money is endlessly replenishable, and in a strange way, almost meaningless. Without men as part of the power circuit, there's room for an alternative world.

I think this video is also Rihanna's rebellious "I'll do what I want to" to detractors who complained about her reaction post Chris Brown assault and to her partying, etc. And it's a much more interesting response than Miley's.

Thanks for sharing the discussion.

Lily Rowan

You know what? I just like living in a world where people have serious discussions about the feminist implications of pop music videos.


@Lily Rowan word.


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Thanks & Regards.


I'm torn, and can sorta see both sides. Ri's bum action initially just reminded me of this:


So I don't think bum cheek-flapping in extreme close-up while casting a coy look over your shoulder is very subversive or 'queer', even if there's only women present (by those standards, the Flo Rida clip must be queer as well; yeah, there's a dude slapping their arses, but look at all those women grinding against one another! Also, sometimes some of them look at each other instead of at him! Yeah, not buying it.)

Having said that, I do love RiUniteOnIce's analysis, and agree that Ri's vid can be read as representing a more female-friendly form of raunch than Flo Rida's. I do think there are some aspects of this vid that *can* be read as subversive (the way Ri stares defiantly at the camera, refusing to gaze away demurely; one shot where she's in fishnet stockings, where she kind of looks like one of the Six Merry Murderesses in 'Chicago' (which would also support the 'this vid is female-friendly raunch theory); and the vid's perspectivelessness as someone mentioned above. Also, even though I don't think the absence of men is necessarily *subversive*, I will agree it's a welcome change.

I guess my final verdict is: Yes, there are aspects of the clip that a mainstream audience might find confronting, but butt-shaking in a G-banger (thong) isn't really all that controversial in world where this sort of thing is standard mainstream straight-guy entertainment (see the Flo Rida clip).

Anyway. Kudos to people for offering their differing perspectives on this. And I'll add my voice to those who saying the Minaj hate was really un-feminist and unnecessary.


@evil_echidna G-BANGER. Re-integrating this Aussie gem into my vocab post-haste.


It's like Rihanna is trying to outdo R. Kelly, AND I LIKES IT!!!

Tracy Lin@facebook

Love the article! I linked and discussed it on my blog http://www.womanonwomen.tumblr.com


She is a great singer and her performances are great but to be honest I like her style when she did Pon De Replay http://wowmp3.net/music/rihanna-pon-de-replay-mp3.html much more. She was a sweet RnB girl and that was really great. Now she is not that you know authentic if I can say it, she lost her personality that she had before. Just my opinion, not trying to offend anyone.


Got around to reading this article because it was linked from Siddiqui's critical article of the Lily Allen video. I don't know, it looks to me like Allen is doing the exact. same. thing. as Rihanna. I can just picture some evil/brilliant record executive sitting in a corporate conference room suggesting that we make a video of strippers stripping in front of Rihanna rather than a man because they can sell it to women who might otherwise be offended. This all just strikes me as a very over-intellecutalized effort to find some kind of common cause with a performer, trying to read more into this than what it is: glorifying her money and power as strippers dance around her. Don't like it when men do it, nor when women do it.

Micka Gita@facebook

I like your profile in this community network and I think you are a nice person. Can we get in contact to know each other? I'm sorry if i am embarrassing you, i shall explain all about myself including my pictures. please you can write to me through my yahoo link ( benitalusie@yahoo.com ) not in this site because i am a new in this community and i don't visit this site often, I'd like to get to know you if you don't mind obat kanker

Laura Benson@facebook

Today is my wedding anniversary and I have a lot to rejoice about. My husband is home and we are celebrating together. The Enemy came in and tried to have his way and that's when I found your email and I am standing ever since. Although my husband never physically left, Dr Lawrence brought his heart home and today we can celebrate each other. Dr Lawrence has been so good and so helpful to us. What a great man you are thank you so much Drlawrencespelltemple@gmail.com

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