– Janelle Monae
Much like the vast majority of Janelle’s work – “PYNK” was radical in the most unapologetic way. The music video is most importantly the most controversial aspect of the song. Just listening to the song isn’t necessarily enough, so you have to watch the music video.
The most simplified description of this song is that it’s about vaginas. It’s about being bold about having one (if you happen to). All of the women in the video are black. Not only do they have all range in skin tones but they’re being fun, free and don’t give a damn. It’s inspirational to see black women dancing around like the world isn’t trying to run us over. The vagina outfits are also quite empowering and show that vaginas are beautiful and artful.
Has there been negative response to this song? Yes, there most certainly has been (which can be partially a reflection on social misogyny).
Thankfully none of the negativity was able to derail the success of the song or downplay its message. Which shows there’s power in progressiveness and not being afraid to show that. We live in a world that’s changing but there’s still people that are fighting against it.
So a bold response to that fact is …
(The Janelle x Tessa content was also an added bonus.)
So here’s to the power of PYNK, vagina and being unapologetic.
Well folks, this is my last piece ever for this little column of mine, System Log, and overall the experience was an interesting one. Every piece that I managed to write for this was a way of expressing myself. Not just so others could read and enjoy what I’ve written but also for myself. While this journey is over for System Log – what I’ve created here will stick with me. As will Dirty Computer.
It’s astounding to think of the imprint Janelle has left on a lot of our lives, especially those of who are black, queer and women (or womxn.) Her music, activism and overall presence in this world is a blessing for the queer community. Some could say that it’s just music or that she’s just another famous person, and maybe that’s true– to them. Though for those of us who hope to someday boldly speak our truth or make an impact – she’s important. Having people like Janelle in the world is essential and it’s very healing. Some of that healing is visible, some of it’s not, regardless it’s still a beautiful thing.
On a personal note, I’ve come to realize much about myself since Janelle released this epic album. I learned that the internalized shame doesn’t negate who I am. Nor does being “bad code” offer a detriment to my own system. And while my mental health issues and trauma cause me to believe otherwise about myself, I try my hardest to love myself. Fighting for myself is more of a torturous journey than anything else. So to have something to cling to, even if it’s just a song that makes me feel safe, is a treasure I always cherish.
Thank you to Janelle (& Dirty Computer), to those who read this column, and to M. Perle Tahat for taking a chance on this column. This will always be beautiful and something I’m proud of.
Vanessa Maki is a queer writer, artist & blk feminist. Her work has appeared/is forthcoming in a variety of places. She’s EIC of rose quartz magazine & is involved in other spaces as well. Find her on twitter, instagram & visit her site.