Teyana Taylor and the objectification of the woman’s body
No, I did not watch Kanye West premiere his latest video Fade at the MTV Video Music Awards. I’m sure I was hugging my pillow, snoring away in a dreamless sleep.
But I’ve seen the video afterwards and the I submit that the reason the video has become the subject of thousands of posts on social media is the body of the central character in the video: Teyana Taylor. Like my friends would say, The babe get bodi to die for. And that’s considering she is a mother. The joke is that Kanye West is miffed that everyone is talking about her body and not the video or him.
He should not have expected otherwise. In fact, expecting people not to immediately gravitate towards the over-sexualised body of Teyana Taylor is a step further into the abyss of hypocrisy. The likes of Kanye West have perfected the art of objectifying the human body as a consumable product – something like an orange. Suck the juice, dispose the rest. Remember Iyanya’s lyrics – omoge olosan gbewa?
The objectification and commodification of the woman’s body is not limited to American music videos. It is the norm here too. It is up there with the annoying trend of Jollof music usually replete with shallow lyrics that glorify, again, a woman’s sexuality, booze and fast money, and monotonous beats.
The woman’s body has become a canvas with which an artist draws up his path to quick, though fleeting, stardom via YouTube. Unfortunately, the men who throw barely-clad women into their videos are usually fully clothed. And you wonder why.
Like the ongoing chatter on social media and blogs about the bodies in Kanye West’s Fade, the emphasis has been on the woman’s body. This predilection is not in abeyance from what happens in our society. It is an ideological thing. Men marry trophy wives for the looks accompanied by shapely bums and perky breasts. The finer the wives are the prouder they are of them: it becomes easy to show them around to friends like the badges of honour on scout uniforms.
Tacitly, the subjugation of the woman and her sub-human conception by the man finds root in some Nigerian cultures. For instance, the woman in Yoruba culture considers the man as olowo ori mi, which loosely means my lord. In essence, the culture through linguistic instrument establishes the hierarchy which puts the woman below the man in a household. Of course, what is supposed to be a culture-based respect system has been bastardised.
What we see in Story for the Gods by Olamide accentuates the foregoing arguments. Olamide’s deployment of debauchery with the woman’s body as an object of sexual fantasy on display is a testament to the fact that he considers a woman’s body a disposable object, a commodity that can be bought off the shelf.
In the video, women are totally naked except for the bikinis they put on. But the artist is fully clothed throughout. With him condoning such debauchery, while he is fully clothed, underscores an ideological standpoint that signposts his belief that the woman’s body is a play thing for the man; as a commercial object with which he can attract attention to his video.
Our world revels in celebrating ephemeral qualities but we are quick to discount people with real talents. A beauty pageant winner is more likely to be gifted with millions of naira and a car than someone who sets academic records in a university.
Unfortunately, women aren’t railing against this practise. As The Guardian contributor, Minna Salami said, “It seems women are every bit as good at objectifying other women as men are.” Seeing Teyana Taylor’s body in the video has sent some women on body goal-setting journey. And I suspect that gyms may experience an upsurge in enrolment.
So Teyana Taylor has become a world sensation since the premiere of the video. But such fame, we are reminded in our minds, is down to her nakedness. It would probably fade out soon. But I believe that she could have been more famous if her talents as an actress and singer were better deployed. A woman, I believe, is worth more than her breasts. She can ask Beyonce.
Tonye Bakare tweets from @tonyeville01