If you haven’t already become privy to the anti-Oedipal anthem, “Ain’t Your Mama,” it’s time to give Jennifer Lopez’s latest single a listen accompanied by the powerful visuals of its video. The opening of the decade montage finds a rain-soaked J. Lo talking on a pay phone to her boyfriend/honorary child as she balks, “Is that all you have to say for yourself? Really? I’m tired and I’ve been working all day. No, I can’t. You should. No.”
From there, we’re given some blatant Lavazza product placement as J. Lo places her coffee mug on the desk of the news room where she’s about to deliver a report. The voice of Hillary Clinton peppers the auditory backdrop with, “Human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights…equal rights for women in the United States of America,” concluding with, “This is no simple reform, it really is a revolution.”
J. Lo then breathes in deeply, as though throwing out the original report she was supposed to deliver by staring into the camera of a TV that leads into a 50s-era housewife’s (also played by J. Lo, for an overall Madonna in “Hollywood” or Britney Spears in “Womanizer” effect) dining room. She then asserts, in an overt homage to the Howard Beale (Peter Finch) from Network speech, “Look, I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. Taken for granted, ignored, underlooked, underappreciated. We have a big, big problem, ladies. First, you have to get mad. I want you to get up. Get up out of your chair. Go to the window. Open your door, stick your head out and yell.”
From there, the addictive beat of the song commences with the 50s version of J. Lo on her hands and knees (à la Meghan Trainor–who penned the song–in the video for “Dear Future Husband”) scrubbing the floor and doing the ironing. Soon, the life of a 60s secretary (also played by J. Lo) is interspersed, with a Don Draper-esque boss ogling her as she types away. As the 50s and 60s J. Los deal with their misogynistic husband and boss, respectively, we then segue to an assembly line of women working in a factory circa the 70s (though this really would have made more sense as a 40s tableau during the WWII era). This rapidly takes us to the 80s, with J. Lo in a 9 to 5-inspired setting that sees her on the outside looking in to the boardroom where she is denied entry because of her gender.
The video then cuts to the current epoch, where a man ignoring his girlfriend while on his phone triggers J. Lo in Howard Beale form to iterate, “I want you to get up. Get up out of your chairs and yell.” That’s when a flurry of present day women scream out their windows, “I ain’t your mama!” The alliance of females, standing united in the intolerance for any further oppression, subsequently join J. Lo on the street for a choreographed dance of empowerment. And while some might not view the video as “feminist enough” or feminist at all, there can be no denying that the message Lopez wants to convey is clear: women are mad as hell and they’re not going to take it anymore. And just because she didn’t wield a baseball bat to show it doesn’t make the sentiment any less valid.