Strip Clubs and Dollar Bills

In an odd way, Rihanna’s ‘Pour It Up’ could be seen as an independent woman/girl power anthem. Rihanna sings about doing all of the things that she wants and still having money afterward.

Strip clubs and dollar bills
I still got more money
Patron shots can I get a refill?
I still got more money
Strippers goin’ up and down that pole
And I still got more money
Four o’clock and we ain’t going home
Cause I still got more money

The song is about her journey through a capitalist world and trying to make it to the top. Without a man, she is making all of the money that she needs and she will continue to do so. It is money that makes her happy.

All I see is signs
All I see is dollar signs
Money on my mind
Money, money on my mind

Rihanna’s video for the song debuted a few days ago. Laura Mulvey discusses the portrayal of women on movie screens, but music videos could be seen as a new type of cinema. The difference is that instead of watching with others in a dark theater, a person can watch alone in their home or on their computer screen.  In theory, the video could be seen as subversive since it is completely devoid of the male gaze. The video only shows women. Rihanna sits in a throne wearing a jeweled bra, fur coat, sunglasses, and a blonde wig. The video showcases women, presumed to be strippers clad in bras and thongs, who are dancing on poles.  Rihanna dances on the throne. Though there is no man in the video that other men can imagine themselves through, are men still meant to be the voyeurs in this scenario?

Although it is a sexually suggestive video, since no men are present, it could be argued that they are dancing for themselves. Pole dancing becomes an art form as opposed to just being a way to please men. However, there is a question of who the video is meant for. Also, who is at the end of the money-throwing? Are they giving money to see each other dance or is the money coming from another source (namely, the idea of men being present rather than men actually physically being present)? It seems like it’s meant to be empowering, but per Althusser and Hall, inversion of an ideology is not subversion. It seems as though Rihanna might just substituting herself for the (invisible, but ever-present) men, taking masculine values and applying them to herself?


3 thoughts on “Strip Clubs and Dollar Bills

  1. I wonder if the fact that there are no men in the video makes it even more for the male gaze. There are no men in the scene to gaze upon the women, but that seems to make it more of an intimate experience between the women in the video and a male audience. Especially since stripping is traditionally meant for the male gaze.

  2. Great post AB. When I was watching the video, before I read your post, I thought of Rihanna as the pimp. She is sitting on the throne and she is the only person in the video that interacts with the money. Because the strippers are in the background, it seems as though they are dancing for Rihanna. I do think think that their target audience is men though,that would mean that they are subjects of the male gaze. I also agree with Mariah’s comment that the lack of men makes the viewing more intimate for male viewers.

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