Music Player

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Track 1: lovely lady lumps

Composed by
Performed by The Black Eyed Peas

In the hit song, "My Humps," rapper of the Black Eyed Peas asks the question:
What you gon' do with all that junk?
All that junk inside your trunk?
To which his female bandmate, Fergie, answers:
I'ma get get get get you drunk,
get you love drunk off my hump.
 This short exchange, repeated as the chorus of the song, encapsulates Ariel Levy's concept of "Raunch Culture," and the idea of female empowerment through sexual acts.  Fergie, in this song and in many others, plays the role of a woman empowered through her sex appeal.  Because she is portrayed as "sexy" she has the ultimate power over men; they fall at her feet, giving her anything and everything she wants.  Consider this verse:
I drive these brothers [fuckers] crazy,
I do it on the daily,
They treat me really nicely,
They buy me all these ices,
Fendi and NaDonna
Karan they be sharin'
all their money got me wearin' fly
Brother I ain't askin'
They say they love my ass in
I say no, but they keep givin'..
Because of her ability to "drive the boys crazy," Fergie is able to collect all sorts of gifts and praises.  She is effectively commodifying her body; trading her "humps" and the pleasures they promise for jewelry and designer clothing.  The "boys"  seem to understand this agreement- buy her a purse, or a pair of jeans, and receive in return all the pleasures of the female body, of this particularly slim, tanned, and toned female body. 

 Fergie never explicitly promises anything, preserving her reputation; but the exchange seems to be understood.  Why else would these "boys" be spending so much money on her?
She even manages to protect her femininity, which, by convention of our culture, means that she should be demure and gracious.  She doesn't ever ask for gifts, and when she is presented with a handbag, or a piece of "ice," one can picture her saying, however insincerely, "Oh no, I could never accept such an expensive gift!  You shouldn't have spent so much on little ol' me!" as she is already integrating her new item into her outfit.     

She continues to protect her feminine virtues in the following verse:
They say I'm really sexy,
the boys they wanna sex me,
they're always standing next to me,
always dancing next to me,
tryin' a feel my hump, hump,
lookin' at my lump, lump. 
you can look but you can't touch it, 
if you touch it I'ma start some drama, 
you don't want no drama.
no no drama, no no no no drama. 
So don't pull on my hand, boy,
you ain't my man, boy,
I'm just tryin'a dance, boy
and move my hump.   
Her threats of 'drama' assert her feeling of empowerment as a "woman in control of her sexuality."  She will dress as sexily as she pleases, driving the boys crazy, but ultimately, she decides who gets to touch her, which lucky man will win her.  

What Fergie fails to see, however, is why she chooses to dress and act in such a way.  Is she comfortable in her designer heels and mini dress?  Of course not- her feet are killing her, and her sequined dress keeps scratching the insides of her arms.  Her feeling of empowerment springs from the male gaze.

 She has become something that every man wants- but only a select few can afford.  The modern ideology; the concept that a woman is good if she can make the men lust after her is hard at work here. Her ability to inspire men to spend money on her is little more than her ability to market her sexuality in such a way that men believe they can buy her.  

Her threat to "start some drama" will achieve what, exactly?  The offending boy will be thrown out of the club by a huge bouncer?  A bone-chilling fate, to be sure. 

Consider the final repetition of the chorus, which is longer than the earlier versions. and Fergie are exchanging lines, Will asking the questions, Fergie answering.  
What you gon' do with all that ass?
all that ass inside them jeans?

I"ma make make make make you scream, 
make you scream, make you scream.

What you gon' do with all that junk, 
all that junk inside that trunk?

I'ma get get get get you drunk, 
get you love drunk off this hump.

What you gon' do wit all that breast,
all that breast inside that shirt?

I'ma make make make make you work, 
make you work work make you work.  
This final exchange emphasizes Fergie's body as commodity.  Using her breasts and butt as a synecdoche for her indicates the overly sexual nature of our popular culture.  She touts her body as loudly any hawker trying to make a profit.   Fergie indicates that she is open for business, but that she doesn't come cheap.  She'll make you work for what you get.  This position of commodity, this role of supplier makes Fergie little more than a glorified stripper, a tease.  

So if you want some of the junk in her trunk, or perhaps some of her lovely lady lumps, boys, be prepared to pay this sexually emancipated, entirely empowered woman.  


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