I Ain’t Your Mama: JLo Extends The Gender Discourse beyond Love And Marriage

I Ain’t Your Mama: JLo Extends The Gender Discourse beyond Love And Marriage

I can imagine many people already have gotten over the thrill of JLo’s somewhat blockbuster which was released about four months ago. JLo is one of th

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I can imagine many people already have gotten over the thrill of JLo’s somewhat blockbuster which was released about four months ago. JLo is one of the all-time divas that has stood the test of the male dominated entertainment industry in America. She is particularly celebrated for her “angelic” body that has seemed not to age over the years and her cool dance moves. Being a successful woman in the industry she belongs definitely comes with a lot of hard work and Jenny from the block seems relentless and still keeping up the task.

Women’s rights/human rights is the central theme of “Ain’t Your Mama” and this initially caught me by surprise until I thought of the song as the retrospection of a mature mind who is conscious of her environment. I was excited to hear a feminist tone in J.Lo’s song just as Beyonce sometimes does, although their kind of feminism has raised a lot of controversies.

In ‘Ain’t Your Mama,’ the artiste lays on the table the issues of inequality and other unnecessary burden that women face just for being women and then calls for an end to it because women are tired and cannot take that s**t any more.

She plays six different “oppressed” women in the video, almost given us a somewhat evolution of Western feminism. From the 1950’s underappreciated wife/mother to the 1980’s corporate woman who has to negotiate what her male colleagues think of her, and what she thinks of herself as an equal worker.

By stating over and over again the lines  I ain’t gon’ be cooking all day I ain’t your mama, I ain’t gon’ do your laundry, I ain’t your mama, I imagine J.Lo is speaking the mind of women who face the plight of being relegated to such duties at home and probably at work. This social problem is often being addressed so as to remind people that equal opportunities and freedom should be given to we all as humans though we truly know that all animals are not equal.

The powerful message of this track is quite compelling and the approach is not that of war against men as they are responsible for all the problems of women but somewhat like, “Listen guys, you cannot expect me to continue doing certain duties all the time simply because I ain’t your mama.” So I see her message as some sort of “Lest we forget” thingy.

On the one hand, her song may be interpreted as reifying domestic roles to women. I am not sure if she is a liberal feminist but saying that “I  ain’t gon’ do your laundry” coz I am not your mother to a grown man is problematic because that means it is okay for mothers to keep cleaning after their “grown up” babies.

It also seems like she is all about the love and romance as she was asking if they should go back to how they used to be crazy in love. I would think a man who would domesticate a woman would have certain traits whether he is crazy in love to not to give women pointers how they might be treated in the home sphere. I would love to be crazy in love too as long as we negotiate our responsibilities without overburdening one party.

The emphasis on domestic expectations of women in marriage to a long extent also robs both parties of the core mandate and aim of the union which is “companionship.”

Many men think that once they marry you that’s the “honor” they’ve done you. Thus, for the rest of your life and in the marriage, its the woman’s turn to “honor” them in the kitchen, the living room and the other room.

When I recently thought about the song again and re-watched the video, I gave it a different interpretation. What came to mind was “Omo t’oni ki iya oun ma sun, oun naa ko ni fi oju kan oorun” (Yoruba version) literately translated as “A child who is determined to give the mother a sleepless night will not sleep as well”. This proverb is usually said in context of warning that an action will be taken against threats.

I interpreted this song this time as saying well, we women are ready for you men as we are determined not to give in. I actually asked myself that does being a mother mean I have to do every damn thing for my kid? Don’t children get weaned of breast milk to show that they cannot depend on their mother too heavily over time? So why is it that we cannot wean off these “big babies” called men?

It would be disheartening to think a woman’s life mission should/would be limited to only taking care of a “child”. Women have other avenues they want to explore, they are not solely in this world for those who feed on their bosom but are needed to nourish other souls beyond their immediate loved ones. They want to be able to express their abilities and rights just like other people around without being constricted to certain spaces or treated differently based on their biology.

Negotiation and great levels of consideration from the patriarch side will go a long way to relieve women from a lot of burdens considering how our societies are changing in terms of how both men and women are competing in the labor market.

The lines are getting more blurry by the day as to what jobs men can do and women are not able to do. Voices of artiste like Jennifer Lopez will continue to ring an alarm to people in the society and hopefully they hear this wake up call and do something. Just like she asks in her song “When are you going to get your acts together?”

Tolulope Odebunmi

Tolulope Odebunmi

Tolu is interested in language and culture, especially how they shape our being. Her passion also lies in critical issues that concern women and children. Currently, she is pursuing a P.hD in Rhetoric Theory and Culture at Michigan Technological University where she works as a Graduate Teaching Instructor
Tolulope Odebunmi


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