Erykah Badu’s “Window Seat” View


UPDATE: New video link.

Erykah Badu’s mystery is not just for the menfolk.I am intrigued by her as well. And like many straight men, I am intrigued with her body’s “new developments.” I think that she gives me hope that a donk is waiting for me on the other side of 30, but I digress.

So, of course I was curious when I clicked on a link for Badu’s video for “Window Seat” and saw that there was a NWS (Not Work Safe) warning next to it. The video was a take on a series of videos by “Matt and Kim,” and featured Badu on the streets of Dallas,Texas, taking off articles of clothing until she is completely nude.

I talked to my partner about this, saying that the video, combined with her recent spandex-ed performances was evidence of a new Badu, one who had traded in dashkis and head-wraps for leggings and Rick James wigs. I’m all for artistic evolution, but I also wondered if Badu was spraying patchouli on sex, selling it and calling it art.  My beloved, always insightful, pointed out that when people get older, they have fewer hang-ups. The things that we are uptight about when we are younger cease to matter as much when we get older. In truth, it is one of the things that I look most forward to about getting older (in addition to having more pocket-meat to work with).

The naked black female body conjures up images of  Hottentots and faceless, voiceless video rump-shakers. This doesn’t change the fact that these bodies are still ours. One of my personal hang-ups is balancing the desire to be taken seriously as a human being with the very human need to be desired. I like the way I look, and I like knowing that other people find me attractive. Unfortunately, there are not many situations where attractive women are also seen as smart and capable. Women in leadership roles often have to de-emphasize their appearance to prevent being reduced to their parts.
Black people aren’t the only ones with a double consciousness, as DuBois stated. Women have one as well. Being a woman is a wonderful thing, and I love all the things about being a feminine woman. I am also aware that I function in a society that is based on binary thinking. Men are strong, so women are weak. Men are aggressive, so women are passive. Thus, anything that highlights “woman-ness” is associated with these less positive stereotypes about womanhood. Even in the Bible, Eve, the mother of civilization is portrayed as wicked for “making” Adam disobey God. Having stories like this in our collective subconscious makes us instantly judgmental of women who choose to display their bodies. My first reaction when I saw the video was, “Erykah’s is on some cougar stuff, big time.” What is a cougar, anyway? More than a mature woman who dates younger men, but a woman who is not constricted by the social messages that give all sexual appeal and power to younger women.
I hope that with time, I become less uptight about the restrictions that I put on myself, some of which are disguised by words like “manners,” “decorum,” or my favorite, “class.” One of my most powerful recent discoveries is how many boundaries in my life are there because I put them there. Some of them were not even directly taught to me, they were just things that I picked up along my journey. Erykah Badu is one of the few black female figures in pop culture that constantly reminds me to think critically about my own hang-ups. I think that the key to eliminating these boundaries is time, reflection and a supportive community.
If that doesn’t work, a little streaking never hurt anyone either.

2 thoughts on “Erykah Badu’s “Window Seat” View

  1. Myk

    I feel where Wise is coming from, but there is an artistry to the way this video was put together. It’s common among this generation to look at things at face value and not see the deeper message. It was funny cause it’s a statement on this day and age…we get so caught up with the images that are set before us to sell and entice, yet we pay little attention to the grand statements that are made in everyday life all around us. Escape your everyday focuses and desire to push forward and be an individual, you’ll be cut down mentally, verbally, and in some cases (RFK) physically. The penalty for truth in our society is persecution…question is are we strong enough to know this and still push on?


  2. Wise


    I wish to preface my comments with the fact that I was not moved by this video in any typical way. I’ve seen enough naked, fit womem in my life to know how to contain my lust and appreciate without become a slathering beast. That said, the video does not match the song’s lyrical mission nor does it help advance any notion of pride or self-love. I boldly and openly love all women and it isn’t connected to my sense of sexual self nor is it steeped in fawning admiration. I view women as my equal, my family, my sister, my friends. I revere the Goddess as much as I revere the God in me.

    I don’t think reverence is at issue here nor do I believe Badu has a deeper point to make. She’s got us talking about it, blogging about it, Tweeting our butts off about it as well. I am glad for the discussions that remain intelligent and insightful but I don’t believe I’d bandy words over this video with anyone. I hope this does, however, foster discussion about body image, pride of self and, ultimately, knowledge of self. Badu’s intelligence and talent have little in the way of peers in this current popular music landscape so I trust that this is the start of a much larger focus on advancing a message of healing, hope and growth versus “hey look at how fine i’m is and watch ya’ll lose ya’ll damn minds”.

    Hangs-ups, shmang-ups. The video isn’t that deep. The song itself is.



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