In August, Nicki Minaj premiered her video, Anaconda. When it debuted it broke the record for the most views in 24 hours. Some people praised the video saying that it empowered women; others criticized it because they said it is sexist. This is not the first time the line between empowerment and sexism has become blurred, but how ought we to think about women, culture, sexism, and empowerment?
What is of great importance in this conversation is that the body and soul are connected. In other words, what we do with our body affects our soul and what we do with our soul affects our body. For example, the other day I was upset by some bad news I had received. I was worried and my chest felt really tight. It felt like someone had placed a weight on it. In this instance I had a physical reaction in my body to the stress I was feeling internally.
Also of importance is that our bodies are good in and of themselves. What I mean by this is that my body is good for no other reason than that it is my being; it is who I am. It is true that our bodies serve a very important functional purpose (such as allowing us to move freely in the world), but its functional purpose is not what gives it its value. What gives it meaning is that it is attached to my soul, and my soul is who I am.
So, some people argue that music videos like Nicki Minaj’s is empowering to women because she is in control and can use her body to get what she wants—men and/or sex. But, as I have just stated, it is not what our body can get us that makes it good. In other words, using your body merely to get something that you want, treating it as a means to an end, will never empower you. The reason for this is because what gives our bodies meaning, what empowers us, is our soul. In light of this, we ought to think about how we treat our bodies and how we treat our souls. If we use our bodies to get us things, like attention or sex from men, to empower us, we aren’t empowering ourselves at all.
The right way to treat our bodies is to be mindful of our souls. That is, we shouldn’t see our bodies merely as a means to get something. It is difficult to recognize your inner value; this is something I struggle with every day. But even if we don’t see our inner value or feel like we have inner value, it is an undeniable fact. So take some time to think about how you are using your body, and how you can take care of your soul and treat it with the value it deserves.