Progressive activist Kianah Davis-Lee agreed to briefly submit to the patriarchy Friday night to dance to R. Kelly’s Ignition-Remix. The Plantain spoke to the twenty-three year old gender theory major who acknowledged that her enjoyment of the song is problematic, but justified it as being her one feminist exception and noting that the song is so perfect you pretty much can’t not dance to it when it comes on.Kianah’s act of internalized subjugation occurred late Friday at Gramp’s where she and a contingent of other activists went to decompress over drinks after an all-day training on coping with micro-misogyny in the workplace. Throughout the 8-hour training, the activists learned about the many instances of institutionalized misogyny the patriarchy has placed on society, and how the continued subordination of women manifests itself throughout our culture.
R. Kelly’s continued popularity, despite his constantly objectifying women in his music and also his peeing on a 15-year-old girl that one time was cited as an example of cultural misogyny during the workshop, and was on Kianah’s mind when she heard the opening line come on: “Now usually I don’t do this but uh…Go head on and break em off wit a lil’ previews of the remix…”
“When I heard those lines I was offended and looked at my sisters from the training with horror. I thought of all of the womyn that R. Kelly has probably made to feel inferior throughout his career, including poor Aaliyah, and how his music has done real harm to our community. But then the verse started, and its like the only song I know every word to, and its such a fun song to sing, so I decided to just go for it”:
>No I’m not tryin’ to be rude,
But hey pretty girl I’m feelin’ you
The way you do the things you do
Remind me of my Lexus coup
That’s why im all up in your grill
Tryna get you to a hotel
You must be a football coach
The way you got me playin’ the field…
Shortly before toot-tooting and beep-beeping with his sisters, Kianah had begun to feel like her participation in the infectious singalong was, in some ways, if you really thought about it, a powerful act of reappropriation in feminist defiance of R. Kelly’s misogynistic ways.
>So baby give me that toot toot
Let me give you that beep beep
Runnin’ her hands through my ‘fro
Bouncin’ on 24’s
While they saying on the radio…
“Taking back this song is sort of the most effective thing I can do as a feminist,” thought Kianah as she rolled her body, getting every man in there wishing.
>It’s the remix to ignition
Hot and fresh out the kitchen
Mama rollin’ that body
Got every man in here wishin’
Sippin’ on coke and rum
I’m like so what I’m drunk
It’s the freakin’ weekend baby
I’m about to have me some fun
By the end of the song the rationalizations within Kianah’s head had ceased, giving way to only jubilation and a sense of youthful exuberance that she had not felt since Middle School, when she and her friends would dance to that song, unaware of the never-ending list of structural ailments holding back the women and people of color of our society.
“Fuck, that is such a great song!” she laughed aloud to the group of women she met at the equality training earlier that day, all of whom readily agreed, except Erin, who instinctively started going on about how the song was problematic, but eventually conceded that it is a pretty great piece of music and that she had fun dancing to it.
As the women cheersed to their new friendship and the power they felt, the DJ started to spin a dance remix to Chris Brown’s “Run It.” The ladies all looked at each other uncomfortably for a moment, unsure what they should do, but eventually decided to use the opportunity as a chance to get another drink.
By Octavia Peaches (a p.o.c. womyn, so you can’t get mad)