“Do It Like A Dude: An Application to Feminism and Deconstruction Theories”

              British singer-songwriter Jessica Cornish most commonly known as Jessie J released an album entitled “Who You Are” year 2010 with songs that speak principally about equality and the importance of identity. Her songs support the idea that going through various challenges is part of one’s life and that there is nothing wrong with “not being okay”. The collective message of the album also says that as humans we ought not to be perfect but we must show the world we can surpass anything alongside with staying positive and “staying true to oneself”. Jessie J, in most of the music videos from the album, exhibited herself as a strong and unbreakable woman who can conquer any kind of situation she might encounter. This is particularly manifested and emphasized in her song entitled, “Do It Like a Dude”, which also touched the theories of feminism and deconstruction.

Dude is a reference to a man or a guy. The title itself strongly suggests that Jessie J as a woman tells her audience that they should act and do things like a “dude” or a guy. The music video starts with a swag face of Jessie wearing a dark eyeliner and black lipstick with spikes. This portrayal of a woman is definitely a deconstruction of the usual tamed, pastel-dressed, light-faced woman. The video continues with trimmed scenes of a woman painting a tattoo to another, a woman slicing a pig’s trotter, another woman experimenting chemicals and another licking a poison bottle. The song starts off with hip hop beats and rock riffs. It gives the impression of a swag-packed performance which happened to be portrayed by ladies instead of guys. Jessie J comes out in a fitted orange mini and starts dancing in edgy moves. The songs starts, “Stomp, stomp, I’ve arrived / Drop the beat, nasty face, why ya lookin’ at me? / Flyin’, flyin’, flyin’, flyin’ through the sky / In my spaceship, I’m an alien tonight”. These lines were evidently from the language of men because it demonstrates authority and control over someone or something. The video progresses with images of women showing of that they are masculine and they can “do it like a dude”. These include manly but sexy dance moves, hardness and edginess in a dance movement from a slow but hippy beat, presence of tattoos and man items such as “bling-blings”, silver piercings, wide and silver-studded belts, and also oversized clothes. The choreography of the dancers who portray themselves like manly-women also mimics sexual actions and front themselves seductively. In application to theory, Virginia Woolf’s “A Room of One’s Own” argues that women can only be visible through their relation to men. In this music video, it is very evident that women are trying to imitate the movement of the men and the way they present themselves is an attempt to show the audience that women can equate themselves to the position which men occupy. Jessie J’s mimicking of sexual actions also verifies Woolf’s notion of androgyny which does not only subscribe to a single-sexed mind. It proves that women, even in their attempt to align themselves with men by demonstrating strength and a make-believe authority, must still exhibit that they are women by nature – temptresses, seductresses and as sad as it is, “objects of sexual pleasure” specially made for men.

            The video goes on with the chorus, “I can do it like a brother / do it like a dude
Grab my crotch / wear my hat low like you”. Again, it gives a reference to another male role which is the brother. Crotch grabbing is also usually a masculine act. Jessie J attempts again to look manly to her audience without losing the woman in her. At a very little time, some clips of men watching the women dance are shown. It is angled as if the men were judging the moves of the women whether it is acceptable to their standards or not. It is followed by Jessie J and the dancers’ judgment of a bald woman showing off her dance skills mixed with a few martial arts movements. Woolf mentions an excerpt, “For Alan had views and Phoebe was quenched in the flood of his views.” This strongly proposes that women cannot escape from the concept of the “male gaze”. A woman looks at herself from the perspective of man and conducts herself in a way that will please a man. The judgment of Jessie J and the dancers was powerfully influenced by the men’s judgment because there is a characterization made that women are weak, domestic, submissive, and uncomplaining. The women in the video deconstructed this characterization and portrayed themselves to be like “dudes”.

 Jessie J says in one of her interviews regarding the song that she wanted to make something empowering for girls but not kind of “I hate men” song because she does not hate men and neither does she say it in the song. “It’s about feeling hardcore”, she states. Truly it is very evident that Jessie J herself concludes that the only way to empower women is to set aside femininity make themselves parallel to the capacity of men.

Sources:

“Jessie J – Do It Like A Dude (Explicit).” YouTube. JessieJVEVO, 8 Nov. 2010. Web. 5 Sept. 2013.

“Jessie J – Do It Like A Dude Lyrics | MetroLyrics.” Song Lyrics | MetroLyrics. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Sept. 2013.

Leitch, Vincent B. “Virginia Woolf.” The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. New York: Norton, 2001. 1017 – 1029. Print.

“PrideSource – Just Jessie.” Pridesource. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Sept. 2013.

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“A Hermeneutical Approach to Kurosawa’s Rashomon Using Stanley Fish’s ‘Interpreting the Variorum’ and Wolfgang Iser’s ‘Interaction Between Text and Reader’”

“A Hermeneutical Approach to Kurosawa’s Rashomon Using Stanley Fish’s ‘Interpreting the Variorum’ and Wolfgang Iser’s ‘Interaction Between Text and Reader’”

Akira Kurosawa’s “Rashomon” presents a quest for truth by interviewing people who stand as witnesses to the incident. It aims to connect each person’s declaration to complete the mystery of a crime. In application to the principles of Hermeneutics, that of Wolfgang Iser and Stanley Fish, this narrative displays the web-like interaction of the reader and the text, and the importance of the role they play to break the notion of an imposed meaning over a piece of literature.

The reader-text relationship in Rashomon may not be literally of a text and a reader but rather, it is a connection between the listener in the person of the High Police Commissioner and the speaker which are the witnesses. An excerpt inside Iser’s “Interaction Between Text and Reader”, “The Politics of Experience” by R.D. Laing explains that all of us do not see the same view of one another because we do not have the same experiences. Our experiences determine our judgment of an incident, or of a person, and given that we did not go through the very same courses, our perceptions differ. Since we perceive the witnesses as people who went through dissimilar experiences, we can assume that their testimonies will differ. Confirming this idea through the text, we see that elements like the horse, sword, dagger, husband and wife, were believable present but to an extent the witnesses’ accounts of each were contradictory.

            Each witness “fills the gap” of the whole story map, forming views as he or she relays it to the speaker. His or her testimony is based on his or her “perception” of what he or she had seen. We can assume the speaker would want to relay the story from a “pure perception” but then with the intervention of experiences, the testimony becomes opinionated. A concrete example would be the first speaker – the woodcutter. At the end of his statement, the High Police Commission queried him if a horse was nearby. His response was “No sir. It’s hard enough for a man to enter, let alone a horse.” This declaration clearly says that this man’s experiences had taught him of a certain common sense to suppose that a horse cannot be present in the crime scene. As Iser articulates, “What is missing from the apparently trivial scenes, the gaps arising out of the dialogue – this is what stimulates the reader into filling the blanks with projections. He is drawn into the events and made to supply what is meant from what is not said.” In this sense, the woodcutter becomes the reader, and the incident becomes the text. The woodcutter makes an account of what he understood in the incident (text) and thus makes an interpretation of it himself. Stanley Fish, in his work “Interpreting the Variorum”, also hypothesizes that the techniques and skills we use to interpret are learned and developed. There are “interpretive communities” that shares a common standard for interpretation. Underlining “communities” in plural form, this indicates that each community subscribes to an idea and thus, other community subscribes to another idea totally different from the former, and hence, do not occupy the same spaces. It is also synonymous to Iser’s notion that our experiences are what make our reading of something irrelevant or dissimilar to everyone else.

            Rashomon clearly offers a hermeneutical principle, giving a comparative view on the testimonies of people who had seen partly of the incident, or probably the whole, of people coming from different interpretive communities, of people shaped by different experiences, and of people bridging the missing links of the whole story map.