Take a good look at that photo right above this sentence. Chris Brown and T-Pain are physically and sexually objectifying this young black woman, and thus, reduce her to eye candy and perpetuating stereotypes about black women. To prove everything is mutual, the video director even had this woman smiling like that is the sort of thing a woman wants. Step right up black ladies! You're going to be featured in a video where everyone is going to look at your ass. If you're black, then it's almost certain we'll stereotype you for having a big ol' butt!
The problem does not stop there. Over the course of pop music history black women have consistently been objectified. If there are women in a hip-hop video, and the lead singers are men, one can almost be certain that a display of the female anatomy will be just what the doctor ordered.
Even before hip-hop emerged, black women's bodies have been objectified. In The rebirth of the booty: America's obsession with my big black ass., student writer Amber Williams discusses mainstream America's obsession with big black ass:
Black women have been objectified as sex objects ever since their voluptuous bodies were seen as a welcome change to the bony figures of European women to whom the male settlers were accustomed. When African women arrived in America via a "free cruise" through the middle passage with their large posteriors, it was assumed that they were sex-craving, savage beasts. The view of black women as sexual predators is still seen today in both the entertainment industry and society at large.
Ms. Williams gives an example of how black female slaves were displayed like circus freaks to amuse white audiences everywhere:
In 1810, Sarah Bartmann, "The Hottentot Venus," was forced to parade her naked body around at high-society functions to entertain European audiences with her distinctive buttocks and genitalia. Instead of being seen as a person, she was objectified by her blackness - an objectification that still exists today. Why is that black women's bodies are seen merely as sex objects and nothing more? In Africa, a large posterior is a sign of fertility and healthiness. In black America, having a big butt is still seen as beautiful, but only because it is seen as a sign that a woman is sexually provocative.
The black women in this video are not only being objectified. They are also being racially discriminated. How? It's simple. Discrimination is the action of prejudice. Prejudice is the sum of stereotypes. In this case, what we have here is Chris Brown and T-Pain doing the exact same thing to this young black woman that happened to Sarah Bartmann. In other words, Chris Brown an T-Pain actively engaged in parading a black woman's ass to mainstream America (and the globe) by objectifying her blackness in order to increase music sales.
This black woman could have chosen not to be in this video, but what pop hip-hop video could she have been in that would not have objectified her? The options for her would have been slim. Our society has done a great job of normalizing the stereotyping of black women for their bodies.
The chorus of this song suggests that women want physical affection and that Chris Brown will give it to them:
She want that lovey dovey (lovey dovey)
Kiss kiss (kiss kiss)
Her mind she fantasize bout' gettin' wit' me
They hatin on me (hatin' on me)
They only diss diss (diss diss)
Cause' she's mine, and so fine
and thick as can be
Chris Brown labels himself as fine even if he's got a "bird-like" body. Even though he does not have a model's physique, he claims himself as the "demonstration" of being "fly":
I’m the epitamy of this demonstration
I got the remedy
Ya feelin' me
So why is you hatin' on my anatomy
It's bird like (yeah)
You heard right
Girl I'm the king so that means that I'm fly (ruff)
If you wit it girl (ruff)
At the same time, he is quick to judge another woman's body. He goes as far as saying that if a woman is not fine, then he can't get with her.
Shawty lemme holla at you
You so hot hot hot hot
You ain't got me hollin' if you not not not not
What exactly does fly constitute? What exactly makes Chris Brown so fly? He does a better job defining what makes a woman beautiful than he does describing why he is so hot.
How could this song / music video be feminist friendly and still maintain it’s pop appeal?
1. Hip-hop needs to stop blatantly reducing black women to eye-candy -- period. Too many people other than black women have benefited financially from the racial discrimination and racial stereotyping of black women. How have black women benefited? They haven't. How much respect is earned for black women on hip-hop videos? None. It's all racist and sexist bullshit that is not necessary to sell music.
2. At the beginning of the song, the "caller" had a problem and said "It aint goin good. My girl aint doin her thang she used to do..." This suggests that it is a woman's duty to please her parter. Sexual intimacy is a two-way street. Sex benefiting one person is not consensual sex. The problem is not his woman. His problem is expecting his woman do perform sexual favors for him without doing his job to make the intimacy better. Chris Brown could have written a song about the responsibilities of a heterosexual man to satisfy his women as he would want to be satisfied. Instead of that, he tells the caller that all she wants is some "lovey dovey kiss kiss" with someone "fine" like him.
3. Once again, no woman is singing. There is a crowd full of women of color that do not say a word. T-Pain could have been replaced by a female rapper. What is it? All women are reserved for eye-candy and not utilized as musicians?