Chi­tra Ra­maswamy ‘Janelle Monáe’s vagina pants make me cheer‘

The Guardian - G2 - - Women -

Vagi­nas don’t get the best press. They are ei­ther be­ing grabbed by fu­ture US pres­i­dents, trolled on so­cial me­dia, en route to a labi­aplasty, mis­trusted for their monthly ca­pac­ity to shed blood or weaponised in the end­less de­bates over gen­der-neu­tral toi­lets. So when Janelle Monáe, a black, queer, work­ing-class star, shows up in her lat­est mu­sic video sport­ing a giant pair of juicy vagina pants, it’s joy­ous and up­lift­ing.

Pynk, Monáe’s new sin­gle, its video di­rected by Emma Western­berg and fea­tur­ing the equally bonkers Grimes, is a queer, arch and de­li­ciously sexy ode to the vagina. Those pants are es­sen­tially chaps re­con­fig­ured as hot-pink labia – and it doesn’t get gayer than that. In the video, Monáe and her gang of women romp around the desert, drive pink con­vert­ibles and wear knick­ers bear­ing slo­gans such as “I grab back” on them. We re­ally need to come up with a fe­male equiv­a­lent of “phal­lic” to do all this jus­tice. Vul­vic?

So this is what pussy power re­claimed by black women in the 21st cen­tury looks like: fun and in­clu­sive. The whole thing is, hap­pily, about as sub­tle as a sledge­ham­mer; at one point Monáe’s ru­moured girl­friend, the ac­tor Tessa Thomp­son, pops her head out from be­tween her bil­low­ing vagina legs with a saucy grin. But the point is se­ri­ous. Not all the women are wear­ing vagina pants be­cause, well, not all women have vagi­nas. Or as Monáe put it on Twit­ter, “No mat­ter if you have a vagina or not.” Thomp­son’s re­sponse to be­ing thanked for “giv­ing black girls their own Vagina Mono­logues” was: “to all the black girls that need a mono­logue that don’t have Vagi­nas, I’m listening”. Here’s the thing: vagi­nas can be en­joyed and cel­e­brated by any­one, but ev­ery­one should re­spect them.

It wasn’t that long ago that Whit­ney Houston’s skin was al­legedly be­ing light­ened by her la­bel in pub­lic­ity shots and black artists were rou­tinely ex­pected to “cross over”. To be more white, in other words, if they wanted suc­cess. Monáe’s video is an unashamed cel­e­bra­tion of black fe­male sex­u­al­ity. Frankly, whether you have a vagina or not, this is progress worth celebrating.

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