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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Jenny Lewis Combines Gender-Bending and Female Stereotypes in "One of the Guys"

Posted By on Wed, Jul 16, 2014 at 9:10 AM

click to enlarge jlewisvid.jpg

Yesterday, ex-Rilo Kiley vocalist Jenny Lewis released a new video that is so fabulous, we don't even know where to start. "Just One of the Guys" features the dizzying combination of Anne Hathaway, (a surprisingly funny) Kristen Stewart, Brie Larson, and The Like drummer Tennessee Thomas, dressed up as dudes one minute, mocking Robert Palmer video dollies the next, and bending some gender to the most fabulous of degrees.

Observe the majesty:

Watching these five funny ladies navigate their way through gender conditioning so wondrously, it's impossible not to fall in love with this video. Kristen Stewart's Adidas-wearing douchbag is genuinely hilarious, as is Anne Hathaway's moustachioed, lip-quivering crying dude. This is a video based almost entirely around pointing out gender stereotypes -- both male and female -- and having a good laugh at the absurdity of them.

Glorious, right? Only, one thing keeps tripping us up. We can't tell whether Lewis is being sarcastic on passages like this:

"No matter how hard I try to have an open mind
There's a little clock inside that keeps tickin'.
There's only one difference between you and me:
When I look at myself all I can see,
I'm just another lady without a BABY."

The video would suggest that this kind of outdated view of women -- the idea that a female can't possibly pal around and party with a bunch of guys without stopping to ponder sadly about her empty uterus -- is being used here ironically. And we can't help but notice that, in the video, she smirks a little before these lines come up in the song.

But there's something that feels terribly genuine and heartfelt in her delivery of these lines. So what if Jenny Lewis really is being tortured by her body clock and wrote this song about it? 

On the one hand, we want to applaud her for her candor and her willingness to speak honestly without fear of a lady-backlash. On the other, if being literal, Lewis is

perpetuating a stereotype that tells the world that when a woman is

considered "one of the guys," it's somehow false; that somehow those

females are pretending to be something they're not; that somehow that

rabid urge in women to reproduce just overrides everything else and we

simply can't hang like the dudes do, no matter how hard we try to be cool.

Putting a song out about trying to shake off traditional ideas of femininity, only to find you are ultimately ensnared in the trappings of womanhood by your own biology, is definitely bold and definitely interesting. But it's also a bit of a kick in the teeth for the ladies who really can hang -- the ladies that have never heard a murmur from their biological clocks, and the ladies that have been trying to shake off that stereotype for decades. It also goes without saying that wanting to have children isn't something that's exclusive to women and neither is it something that all women experience.

Ultimately, we'd like to think that the hugely entertaining video for "Just One of the Guys" was either Jenny Lewis' way of making up for the expressions in the song that play so boldly into female reproductive stereotypes, or a way to show us that these lyrics are straight, down-the-line sarcasm. Either way, she's struck a very smart balance between the two and given us all something to think about.

-- @Raemondjjjj

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