Monday, November 11, 2013

The Best Thing About Being a Woman - Man! I Feel Like a Woman by Shania Twain

In It Was a Good Day by Ice Cube he describes a good day for a black man living in South Central Los Angeles. The second verse ends, "Plus nobody I know got killed in South Central LA. Today was a good day." This has more power than a song lamenting a dead friend or describing all the terrible things that can happen. For Ice Cube, the best he could hope for in a day is that no one he knows is killed. That is grim.

Shania Twain in Man! I Feel Like a Woman uses a similar approach to describing what it is like to be a woman. She keeps repeating, "The best thing about being a woman is the prerogative to have a little fun." This is like saying that the best thing about being a Hispanic man in Arizona is that some days you don't even need to show your birth certificate to the police. She describes a woman going "totally crazy" by wearing a man's shirt with a short skirt and coloring her hair. A woman's role is so constrained that anything actually fun or fulfilling is denied to her. The best she can do is have a tiny bit of fun. Only on a special night, though.

Man! I Feel Like a Woman by Shania Twain:

The video opens with Shania Twain going "totally crazy". She seems to be wearing a combination of men's and women's clothing. Wow! That's wild!

She is standing in front of a band that she pays absolutely no attention to. The band is made up of models, just like a Robert Palmer video. The twist is that the models are men.

They are wearing a ton of make-up and goggles for some reason?

Check out these guys' chests. Man. Also, no one showed them how to pretend to play their instruments so they just move their hands around aimlessly. It's pretty great.

Shania Twain is hiding her face for some reason. Is it because she is trying to "forget I'm a lady"?

According to the Wikipedia page for this song, she is wearing a veil because her entire family was killed in a freak hog stampede the day before they filmed the video. The show must go on, though. As a fan of New Criticism I'll ignore that fascinating and true fact and try to interpret it in the context of the video. Since the best she can hope for is to have a little fun, maybe the veil is meant to show that, even while trying to have a lot of fun, she has to remain serious and composed. Everyone is counting on her to take care of them. She can't just go out, get shitfaced, contract a social disease, and spend the next week in jail. She is only allowed that little moment of fun.

Here we get to see the short skirt that she has been hiding.

Tantalizing. Throughout the video she becomes more and more undressed. This represents her struggle to free herself from patriarchal shackles. Every time she exposes herself further, though, she reveals that she represents the traditional role of a woman: thin, perfectly coiffed, an object.

Here at the beginning of the video she is still intriguing dressed.

She takes off her jacket, though.

And suddenly the models who were objects have become objectifiers.

Maybe he doesn't find her sexy. Licking your lips implies that you are imagining tasting her. So he might be a cannibal. Is this video secretly about cannibalism? Maybe it's meant to imply that eating meat is like being a cannibal. Did you know that Shania Twain does not eat meat? Did you know that her real name isn't even Shania Twain? It is Shania T. Wayne. She changed it to Shania Twain after hearing the shouts of workers on the Missippippi river. Note: Since Shania Twain isn't even American they don't even have the Mississippi river so she did her best to pretend with the Missippippi.

She continues to show more of herself. First she unbuttons her shirt.

Then she removes it entirely. The models think this is a somber event.

She removes her hat, revealing that she has red hair.

All of her men's clothing removed, she waves her arms around in a decidedly carefree manner.

So is this actually a feminist video? Probably not. At least this song is about being a woman and doesn't mention a man. So maybe in the country world we can consider it progressive. But maybe secretly Shania Twain is showing us just how terrible it is to be a woman in our society and that's pretty cool.


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