Representations of Women in Kanye West's "Monster" Video

6 years ago
  • Bikini-clad, high-heeled, hung from the ceiling by their necks with chains
  • Disembodied hands, groping the male form through a gate
  • Two women dead in bed with one man, eyes glazed over/rolled back in their head as he positions their lifeless arms around each other
  • Bikini-clad, dragging a dead body across the floor before spiking his heart with her heel
  • Sitting close together on a couch in a spare room, listless
  • Bloody, zombie-like clawing at the window outside of the house as Kanye holds them back
  • Blood covered, crouching on stainless steel table over a dead man, eating his guts with their bare hands
  • Lingerie-clad, crouching in dark corners
  • Prone and twisted on a couch, cherry red high heels, topless, looks to be not wearing underwear, arm grazing the floor, eyes glazed, mouth open
  • Adult zombies in school girl outfits playing double-dutch
  • Kanye West casually holding the blood dripping, disembodied head of a woman while her chopped off hand sits in a pool of blood nearby
  • Nicki Minaj holding a whip, assaulting...Nicki Minaj, who is bound to a chair. Chair bound Nicki raps in child-like voice
  • Bikini-clad, writhing sexually, turning into a wolf
  • Wearing a bra, standing in a corner smoking a cigarette
  • Dead/passed out/unconscious, flopping over into Kanye's lap

Tell me again why representations of women in popular media don't matter.

Do I listen to rap? Yes.

Do I like this song? Yes.

Do I listen to these artists individually? Yes.

Do I understand what they were trying to do here? Yeah.

Am I a feminist? Yes.

Am I a humorless feminist? No.

Do I find this video offensive, dangerous, and lazy? FUCK YES.

The video has been pulled since I wrote this, but here's a sneak preview. It features many of the images mentioned above.

A few days ago, my friend Cassie posted the following quote from Heidegger: "The most thought-provoking thing in our thought-provoking time is that we are still not thinking." How is it that Kanye West, an intelligent artist very much in control of his image (and the business of his image), didn't think about the repercussions of representing women in this manner? What I find more disturbing is that he DID think about it, and proceeded with this video anyway.

A lot of people are talking about this video. Sarah Jaffe brings up the (incredibly salient) point of race politics at play in the video; Sady Doyle talks about visual misogyny; and Ta-Nehisi Coates, in discussing West's new album as a whole on The Atlantic, talks about the return of casual racism:

I'm less amazed, but pretty depressed, that colorism is back -- "Rolling with some light-skin chicks and some Kelly Rowlands," is little more than "you're pretty for a dark-skin girl" in this postracial era.

Aside from my knee-jerk "WTF?!" reaction to the representations of women in this video, it's also made me contemplate why sexuality and the female form are presented as such a black-and-white issues where media is concerned. You're either an animalistic, man-hungry slut, or a prude. I'm ultimately disappointed by Kanye's laziness in trotting out that old standard.

Knotty Yarn Surly and Passionate

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