Feminism, Pop-Culture | Posted by Emma E on 08/24/2011

Reversing Gender Roles With A Little Help From Ke$ha

Could Ke$ha possibly be helping feminism?

Could Ke$ha possibly be helping feminism?

When most people think of Ke$ha, feminism is not the first word that comes to mind. But I think her music does have some vaguely feminist merits.

I remember some time before I even discovered the FBomb (my life must have been so meaningless…) I was thinking about sexism in music. I remember thinking, “I wonder why most music by women is all about how much they love their guys, and men’s music is all about hooking up with random, personality-less girls at parties? Women almost never treat men like meaningless objects in music, but men do all the time.”

I tried to think of a song where women treat men like men treat them. The only one I could come up with was a little-known song from Ke$ha’s debut album, Animal: Boots and Boys. In it, Ke$ha sings about how she only wants two things—boots and boys (obviously). Basically she equates boys to boots, valuing them equally.

I want to make it clear that women objectifying men the same way men objectify women DEFINITELY isn’t feminist. Feminism is about equality. But it’s definitely interesting to see the tables turned. It’s also interesting to see how people react to both – when men objectify women it’s normal and accepted, but when women do it they’re considered trashy or slutty (like Ke$ha is by many people).

I also wonder if more guys realized what it felt like to be compared to objects if they would stop doing it to women. No doubt, being objectified would make them uncomfortable. Is that why “Boots and Boys” isn’t more popular?

Again, I don’t believe that women should treat men like objects any more than I believe that men should treat women like objects. But I definitely think that Ke$ha’s songs are interesting in that they turn the tables, and they make you—and, hopefully, all the writers and producers of all the sexist music out there—think long and hard about how women are treated in music.

Maybe, just maybe, with a little help from Ke$ha, the music industry will stop objectifying women so much.

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  • Talia bat Pessi @ at 5:08 pm, August 24th, 2011

    I still don’t know what to make of Kesha. I’ve written about her bunches of times (http://starofdavida.blogspot.com/2010/10/shining-stars-of-davida-keha.html, http://starofdavida.blogspot.com/2010/12/keha-please.html, and http://starofdavida.blogspot.com/2011/08/my-darling-readers.html), but I still haven’t really gotten to a conclusion yet.

  • Colleen @ at 8:35 pm, August 24th, 2011

    I was listening to Ke$ha’s “Blah Blah Blah” several months ago, and my friend commented on how if Ke$ha was a man “he” wouldn’t be considered slutty/trashy. Interesting article; I wish more people would see it this way.

  • Sara @ at 9:42 pm, August 24th, 2011

    This confuses me. Aren’t we trying to fight superficial objectification- not contribute to it?

  • Halle @ at 9:52 pm, August 24th, 2011

    Yeah I agree with Sara, I don’t like Ke$ha’s kind of music whether a women is singing it or a man is. I think all of it is annnoying, pointless and most importantly contributes to our generation’s general apathy for substansial causes.

  • Erica @ at 8:53 am, August 25th, 2011

    My ex-boyfriend was a rent-a-stripper before I met him. Of all the guys I’ve known in my life, he seemed to have by far the deepest understanding of women’s daily struggles with objectification. He said he hated stripping because he couldn’t stand the way he felt dehumanized from it and from the women he danced for.

    So I’m inclined to think that if men were treated like sexual objects more in our society, they would understand our struggle better. But, like all of you, I certainly don’t think that is ANY decent way to go about “educating” our brethren.

  • Vanessa M @ at 10:32 am, August 25th, 2011

    I totally agree with ya, girl. It’s so similar to how people say that tall girls are “creepy” but tall guys are “hot”.

    There’s just one thing… Would you be interested in slightly editing your post, ’cause the “men’s music is…” Is sure to give some people the wrong impression about what you’re saying :)

  • Kristen A @ at 11:20 am, August 25th, 2011

    Vanessa M, who in their right mind would call tall girls creepy? I’ve never experienced that particular comment in relation to my height (5’11”). Usually I get either a lot of compliments because I “look like a model” (I do work as a professional model) or I get the typical eating disorder commentary (because I am naturally very slender) and for some reason society finds it appropriate to make light of life threatening illnesses.

    Granted, my current boyfriend is about 6’3″ and built very solidly, so next to him I do look tiny, but even when dating men closer to my own height they liked when I would wear heels (some actually requested it) even if the shoes made me taller than my partner.

    Maybe I’ve just been lucky in my experience with tallness? It probably helps that I am privileged enough to be white, upper middle class and fit within the bounds of media portrayals of beauty.

  • Emma E @ at 12:33 pm, August 25th, 2011

    @Sara: No, I don’t agree with superficial objection, I just think that Ke$ha’s songs offer a viewpoint that we almost never see. In the post, I never called the song ‘good’ just ‘interesting’.

    Vanessa: I’m not actually sure how to edit posts…:/ I don’t want to give people that idea, sorry if it sounded that way! :)

    Kristen: I’ve never heard someone call a tall girl ‘creepy’, but as a tall girl, it’s always frustrated me how, in quite a few books, the main character will say that one of the things that attracted him to his love interest is how ‘tiny’ she is. If the love interest is tall, her height isn’t mentioned. Saying that people find tall girls ‘creepy’is a bit extreme, but I get what Vanessa is saying. :)

  • Lolita @ at 3:28 pm, August 25th, 2011

    I deslike her because i think she sucks not because she ‘treats men like objects’ I like Motley Crue too even though it’s wrong and I wouldn’t mind her if she wasn’t so. .

  • Cara @ at 5:25 pm, August 25th, 2011

    I hate Ke$a and do consider her trashy, but I would consider her male equivalent trashy as well. And, while I do not agree with either gender objectifying the other, I can see where you’re coming from and find it interesting that this song is not as popular as her others, probably for the reason you mentioned

  • A @ at 5:32 pm, August 25th, 2011

    Interesting perspective! I really liked this piece.

  • Matt SS @ at 5:36 pm, August 25th, 2011

    Most men I know don’t mind being objectified if what they want is casual sex. They might be upset by objectification in a relationship though. I can think of a lot of songs where dudes are objectified, and i don’t just mean objectified for material security or gifts, which is an incredibly common kind of objectification in pop culture. A lot of punk rock and alternative rock written by girls has sexual objectification of men.
    Also Kesha isn’t trashy, and as far as club music goes, her songs are effective and appropriate.

  • Kristen A @ at 1:59 pm, August 27th, 2011

    Emma, I have noticed that! Even many female heroines in modern literature are either portrayed as “slight” or “tiny” or their height isn’t mentioned. Granted, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a more petite height, but we tall ladies deserve credit too.

  • Kate @ at 4:43 am, August 30th, 2011

    Ever heard Trina “Dang-a-lang”? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WZHS30nqAk&feature=youtube_gdata

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