Tag Archives: Read My Lips

You Didn’t Quite Change Our Mind About Barbarella

Wow. If these are the opening remarks of this series, Amanda and I need to do our homework! Great job, everyone. I thoroughly enjoyed reading and contemplating a reply. Originally I was going to just reply in a comment, and then I wrote a short novel and realized that wasn’t going to work.

I can’t say that my view has been completely changed, but I’ve certainly been given some food for thought. I’d like to keep my response to the same 250 word limit given to our esteemed interns. I was close…

Lyrical evidence

Sexism is about power. Those who hold the power oppressing, defining, and weakening those who do not. With that in mind, none of the songs offered up as being possibly more sexist tend to hold up, at least lyrically. In these cases: ASWI, HLTW, GOF and The Chauffeur, the words clearly put the woman in a position of power. The man is ultimately chasing them. Even in GOF, arguably the most lyrically sexist song lyrically of those mentioned, the woman is clearly a model. There is no clear indication that she is there by force. Read My Lips, on the other hand, is overtly sexual – no argument there – but sexist? I read the lyrics as perhaps someone (maybe even a celeb) in a bar trying to convince a woman to go away with him for a one night stand. Falling Down has nothing to do with sexism, lyrically. It could be about anyone. 

In Electric Barbarella, we can read that this female subject was found on a so-called “showroom floor”. At the onset, she has no power – whether robot, or arguably, even if human. She is powerless. He buys her. He takes her home, dresses her, “plugs her in” and trains her. 

Video evidence

In videos, women still have the power. ASWI – the men are puppets. HTLW – the male is desperately pursuing the female. GOF – in every vignette, it is a woman in charge. She is the horse rider, the masseuse, even the hero. Sex objects, yes. Sexism? No. In Falling Down, the video definitely poses women as the rehab/psych patients and the men are doctors, treating the patients. Is that as overtly sexist? I don’t think so. 

Loved doing this – it was a great exercise!

-R