The Wednesday Weigh-In: “Just One Of The Guys”

So, Jenny Lewis has a new video. The song is “Just One Of The Guys” and she dresses up a bunch of famous, pretty, feminine movie stars as dudes. Really, just watch it:

I have so many questions. Autostraddle likes the video, and I like Autostraddle and Jenny Lewis, so I’m trying to stay open to their reading:

The song is all about questioning gender roles and fucking with the patriarchy — “I’m not gonna break for you/I’m not gonna pray for you/I’m not gonna pay for you/That’s not what ladies do!” she sings, inspiring much hell-yessing by me.

The video takes the androgyny power to a new, amazing level. Lewis wears a magical rainbow star suit, and Stewart, Hathaway, Larson and others form her backup band. The alternate between playing instruments in feminine-cut white suits and doing great, weird stuff in Adidas track suits.

I’m just not really seeing the irony, though, which makes this look like one big big Gender EssentialismFest to me. Take these lyrics:

No matter how hard I try to be just one of the guys
There’s a little something inside that won’t let me!
No matter how hard I try to have an open mind
There’s a little clock inside that keeps tickin’ !

There’s only one difference between you & me:
When I look at myself all I can see,
I’m just another lady without a baby

If we take the lyrics on their face, this is Jenny Lewis announcing women are fundamentally different than men because — and only because — they can have babies, which is reductive and transphobic and something I imagine a great aunt saying while I cringe. And by that reading, the drag isn’t really blurring any gender lines but reifying them: paired with those lyrics, the half-hearted wardrobe-swapping appears to ridicule the idea of “women acting like men” rather than challenge gender roles. 

I’m worried I’m just completely clueless and should obviously know this is satire… but I don’t really see that. I’d loved to be convinced otherwise, but this feels pretty sincere (or, as sincere as one can be in that suit) to me. And I’m hesitant to go too far out of my way to give something that looks so much like essentialism the benefit of the doubt.

What do you think? Patriarchy-smashing or patriarchy-reinforcing? My other questions include: can I pull of an all-white tracksuit? what is going on with Kristen Stewart’s hair? does this make Anne Hathaway likeable enough for America? was I supposed to know who Brie Larson is?

Please discuss.

AlexandraAlexandra Brodsky is a Feministing editor, student at Yale Law School, and founding co-director of Know Your IX.

New Haven, CT

Alexandra Brodsky is an editor at Feministing.com, student at Yale Law School, and founding co-director of Know Your IX, a national legal education campaign against campus gender-based violence. Alexandra has written for publications including the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Guardian, and the Nation, and she has spoken about violence against women and reproductive justice on MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, FOX, and NPR. Through Know Your IX, she has organized with students across the country to build campuses free from discrimination and violence, developed federal policy on Title IX enforcement, and has testified at the Senate. At Yale Law, Alexandra focuses on antidiscrimination law and is a member of the Veterans Legal Services Clinic. Alexandra is committed to developing and strengthening responses to gender-based violence outside the criminal justice system through writing, organizing, and the law. Keep an eye out for The Feminist Utopia Project, co-edited by Alexandra and forthcoming from the Feminist Press (2015).

Alexandra Brodsky is an editor at Feministing.com, student at Yale Law School, and founding co-director of Know Your IX.

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