Moya here again :)
I hope all is well in your world. I came across a short movie that reminded me of a question I’d asked in my initial letter to you. I wanted to know what a consensual one night stand without a walk of shame might look like.
Take a look; I think it’s pretty awesome.
Obvious Child from Gillian Robespierre on Vimeo.
It’d be nice to see people of color make a film like this, no? It would also be nice if to baby or not to baby weren’t the only question raised. I suppose because the condom broke they felt the question of STI’s had been addressed. And I’m sure for a lot of women of color it might not be quite this idyllic. And a horrible break up, that precipitates the drunken encounter, that creates the possibility that a one night stand might turn into a relationship, is doing its own moralizing work.
Nevertheless, I thought you might enjoy seeing what’s possible in terms of visuals with a message these days. I do get the sense that “the sex was spectacular,” that she consented, even if she didn’t remember dude’s name.
Would love to know what you think Kiely, and if it makes you think about your own video any differently.
*This open letter is part of the FAAN Mail project. Click here to learn more*
A friend of mine was really upset about your video (I think a lot of people were) and has reached out asking folks to write an open letter to you as she did. I wanted to talk about your videos and say my peace (intentional spelling) so this seemed like a great invitation.
First, I’m not trying to lecture you about what you should be doing. I get that women are sandwiched between this virgin/whore rock and hard place and that you in particular are marked with your girlhood empowered Cheetahdom that you hoped “Spectacular” would help you shed. I just find it disturbing that the mature womanly reincarnation of your image involves the glorification of date rape.
I know that you say that the song isn’t about date rape, that sometimes a song is just a song. Sometimes you kiss a girl and you like it (that song is f*cked up too by the way and yet not at all on the level of insinuating as you do in your song that date rape is just another wild night on the town) but the flippant nature of these remarks belie the messages in the video. By suggesting in your song that you were so drunk the evening comes in pictures, you blacked out, feel like you are on drugs, that you don’t remember dude’s name or if he used a condom its unclear how you remember that the sex was spectacular or that you were able to give consent. It also makes it seem, as did your response video, that women are being irresponsible and it’s their fault that they get into these situations. The problem is them, their wild drinking and their out of control behavior as opposed to questioning a situation in which a woman isn’t even present enough to say yes or no to sex, let alone the use of a condom.
And how come when you are trying to convince us that the sex was spectacular, it’s only through violent metaphor i.e. blowing one’s back out? And though I’ve never worn tracks myself, I have it on good authority that it would be pretty painful if one was torn out of your hair. Is the sex not good if you’re not in pain the next day? Mad love to the kink community but this song and many others on R&B airwaves lack a level of intentionality and consent that puts them in a different category for me.
Kiely, I know that this isn’t just about you; it’s a systemic problem that will take more than a youtube video defense of yourself to undo. There is probably a lot of pressure for you to make a splash and distance yourself from the safe, girl power image of your teen years, but I wonder if you couldn’t have thought about that distancing as maturation. How dope would it have been to have seen an empowered totally consensual one night stand play out on screen and imagined in your lyrics? Why does it have to be a walk of shame the morning after? Also, what’s with the scene of the white guy trailing you for a few feet even as he’s with another partner? Why is the video set up to cash in on overplayed stereotypes about sex workers and working class neighborhoods? It seems that all of these decisions could have been different and could have really opened a dialog about the culture of hooking up and how women can do so in a safer and ultimately more pleasing way for them.
With fierce love,
P.S. I totally still bump Cinderella all the time!
Check out this video response to Spectacular, with more information about how to get involved!