While both the video and track start off innocently enough, between the brandishing of wooden spoons, the fluffing of tutus, and the cheesecake smiles, the message of Crystal Precious’ video couldn’t be clearer: No pie for you. The first track off of the West Coast strip-hop artist’s album, ‘Queen Of Sass’ delivers a directive loud and clear: if you are unworthy of the pie, than you shall not be granted a serving, a slice, a sniff or a taste. The slick package of self respect, standing up for yourself and third wave feminism all packaged in a cute little polka dot apron is brilliant, not just because of the catchy tune by Self Evident or the green screen antics of Sweet Soul Burlesque, but because of the delivery of Crystal Precious’ lyrics which don’t sound like preachy feminist dogma. Instead, they have you shouting the phrase, “No pie for you!” along with Precious and applying it to any and all situations where rather than rely on the usual rhetoric to rebuff the offender, one can now simply say, “No pie for you!” in it’s place. But Crystal Precious has been saying this message throughout her career, and even having to defend herself, her music and burlesque from other feminists.
Part of the problem these days is that as women we are taught from a young age to step on each other’s heads, hands and feet to get ahead. While no matter how much your parents emphasize sharing and helping your peers, Western society has, at large, found that the best way to keep women from rising in power is to keep us insecure and backbiting each other so that wholesale fuckery can take place in the forms of genocide, oil pipelines, slashes to arts programs, Stephen Harper, and anal bleaching. By indoctrinating us into following a) a beauty standard and b) what behaviour is appropriate for ladies at an early age, most of us, if we don’t get a broadening of our horizons, becomes some of the worst kind of misogynists. A few decades ago any woman choosing her career over tending to her family would be given the hairy eyeball and the term ‘bad seed’ might linger in her absence after she left a room. Now, we’ve taken up the opposite where if a woman chooses to raise her family she has her gender peers rolling their eyes that she’s giving up on her career. It kind of feels like the these are the days we’re damned dames if we do and damned dames if we don’t.
Burlesque is a contentious issue in this regard. We’ve two camps of thought on this: the one side that is liberal-minded and argue that it’s choice, permission, and a celebration. The other arguing that it’s degrading, objectifying, and a cry for attention. So which one is it? The answer is that it’s both and it is neither. In some regards it is very much vying for attention – taking clothes off for an audience usually denotes SOME kind of interest in gaining the immediate attention and reaction of our peers. But degrading? Objectifying? Only if you allow yourself be. But how is it derogatory for one woman and empowering for the next? This has been the crux of the matter between feminists who argue back and forth that burlesques is or isn’t feminist and whether or not it’s alright to enjoy it or participate in it.
What it boils down to is choice. I often get asked my views on what ‘is’ and ‘isn’t’ feminism. The best answer I can give is it’s respecting yourself, what you do and respecting other women’s choices. The biggest enemy to the equality movement is that we’ve a terrible lack of respect for our peers an their opinions. My definition of stripping for the nightclub crowd may not fit in with a third year Women Studies major at UBC, but one would hope that each side has a mutual respect for each other’s rights to their opinion and life style choices. If that mutual respect begins to erode, then we find ourselves degenerate quickly into a high school battle of name-calling back and forth while aforementioned fuckery more or less ruins the world while we argue semantics.
So what does this have to do with Apple Pie, you ask? Because I’m hoping that everyone gets a slice. Because someone wised up, someone evaluated their response before saying a knee-jerk reaction to a differing opinion, because someone tried to keep an open mind. If we are able to teach these value systems of being kind, giving and having respect for ourselves and our sisters, and raising each other up rather than stepping on top of, then at the end of the day we might all get some pie, and Crystal Precious is the one to serve it. The woman who is rapping and preaching self love, and empowerment that bucks the trend of hos and sluts in traditional hip hop and rap culture, where women are used as status symbols and commodities. Then I’ve faith that something better than Apple pie is being served. Honour, dignity, and maybe even a little dollop of sass served on the side is what’s on the menu in the future.
And if that is the case, then I’m fucking having what she’s having.
Hugs and hisses,
Little Miss Risk