In defence of Lily Allen

Most of us would probably agree that shouting down a woman who may be less educated than you with regards to feminism, but is trying to do something positive for the cause, is a bad idea. However, we do this all of the time when it comes to other women. Lily Allen is no exception.

Yes, she uses the word ‘Whore’ in her song and other women ‘twerking’ in the background (which I assumed was a parody, but whatever), but is tearing her down a good use of time which could have been spent, I don’t know, tweeting about Robin Thicke instead or making a makeshift ‘we can do it’ badge? The song is an answer back to all of the people who have called her fat, who have attempted to change her image and her message and have sexualized and laughed at her because she is a woman. The song is a defiant ‘no’ to the industry and it is showing other women that they don’t have to use their bodies or be size six in order to be famous.

Allen's new video parodies Thicke's 'Blurred Lines' with feminist overtones.
Allen’s new video parodies Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’ with feminist overtones.

I personally don’t think that she was slut-shaming. There is a difference between saying ‘being sexual is wrong’ and ‘you don’t have to be sexual in order to be successful’. She wasn’t using the women twerking aspa cheap titillation in order to sell records, she has admitted herself that it is a parody, and it is obviously so. She’s putting herself in the men’s shoes, and showing how ridiculous it is to use other women’s bodies as a catalyst for fame by switching the roles. Regardless of this, most of us would find it difficult not to concede that she means well.

She is trying to spread the feminist message, and is being subjected to the same vitriol that many of us complain about being subjected to by men when we dare to lift our heads above the parapet and try to improve our own situation. Is calling a fellow feminist a “hypocritical bitch” or saying that she “should be ashamed of herself” really progress?

It’s funny that the language that Lily is satirizing, the patriarchal language that we as women are subjected to all the time, is being used against her by feminists who don’t agree with small facets of the wider message. In addition, complaining that she is using cultural appropriation and sexuality to combat a message about cultural appropriation and sexuality completely misses the point of satire. Yeah, writing a song isn’t going to knock down the patriarchy in one fell swoop. It’s not going to stop rape culture in it’s tracks or close the pay gap. However, it’s setting an example for all of the young women who want to go into music. It’s giving women a positive role model; a woman who doesn’t match up to patriarchal beauty standards, who isn’t afraid to make fun of herself and her situation and stand in front of a load of balloons saying that she has a baggy fanny.

A woman who is famous for her voice and her wit rather than her tits (and there is nothing wrong with being famous for your tits, but so many woman in the spotlight are, and it’s nice to have a change, isn’t it?). It’s certainly much nicer to have a positive song about feminism and the changes we still need to make in the spotlight than it is to have a load of women tearing down a woman who is trying her best to make a difference, whether she has browsed the Tumblr intersectionality tag as avidly as you or not. And the Thicke-mocking balloons were fucking fabulous.

Nice one, Lily!

6 thoughts on “In defence of Lily Allen

  1. “[She] is being subjected to the same vitriol that many of us complain about being subjected to by men when we dare to lift our heads above the parapet and try to improve our own situation.”

    Do you really think this?

    Like, honestly?

    Not just for attention’s sake, but do you really, truly believe this to be true?

    That men as a gender are trying to keep you down?

    This isn’t Afghanistan. You’re writing for a newspaper that lets you say pretty much anything you want, whilst going to a University which treats women as equal to men in a country where women are treated equally to men. Why are you describing your struggle to ‘improve your situation’ with war-like imagery? It just makes me laugh. Laugh and cry.

  2. She is reclaiming the concept of “slut” and “whore” through acting in a deliberately provocative way and relishing it. She is showing that it isn’t shameful for someone to say you have a “baggy pussy”, it doesn’t make you a social outcast, or less of a woman. She’s embracing the power that women have, and, in this day and age, the objectification and sexualisation that women are subject to can be their strength (they can use it to manipulate and provoke men who think they can control women/women should act in a certain way)

  3. What I mean when I say “patriarchy”: A set of socially maintained systems, values, and ideologies which perpetuate arbitrary and outdated ideas about gender and human sexuality, encompassing social phenomena like homophobia, transphobia, and sexism.

    What people THINK I mean when I say “patriarchy”: A secret brotherhood that meets together once a month to discuss how best to oppress women, and are in control of all of the world’s governments.

  4. @GLH that is beautiful, I’m stealing that and using it next time I’m in a feminist debate! ty xo

  5. Lily is awesome! But also, people will complain about *anything*, if someones trying to make a difference/point, but people enjoy being offended, and will find any reason to! seriously though…

  6. Are people so stupid that they don’t realise that the video is SATIRE? ohgod, it’s not often i say this but woo helena!

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