I first discovered this song when I searched up Top Feminist Songs of 2013 and it ranked very high on the list. By just looking at screen shots of the music video one sees an almost violent encounter between a man and woman, as he chokes her and forces fingers into her mouth. Yet upon closer investigation the video combined with the lyrics show a unique intersection between consent, kink and feminism. In fact, Twigs “tops from the bottom” in many ways as she expresses her desire to be dominated to the point where her tongue seeks his fingers to be put into her mouth.
What makes this video a visual representation of feminism and kink is her explicit use and awareness of The Gaze. Throughout the video, she is continually looking at the viewer in a purposefully and interactive kind of way. Women in popular culture mediums like music videos or advertisements are often the objects of the gaze and experience a dehumanizing objectification. Men are often portrayed as directly gazing back at the viewer, as if they are aware of the viewing relationship and they are refusing to be objectified by it. In Twigs’ video, this gendered dynamic is switched, where she is the active viewer/viewed and her male partner is objectified by the viewer’s gaze. He is, in a sense, a tool for her pleasure and she demands his and the viewer’s attention. This is not to say that in order to achieve equality, we must objectify men but I am in fact acknowledging the pattern of The Gaze within popular culture and how Twigs uses and challenges the conventional gaze.
This song and video also looks at the relationship between consent, kink and race. Both Twigs and her male pattern appear to be racialized persons and yet, their race doesn’t really matter. By no means does it appear that the video is relying on racist stereotypes of the sexual beastly black male. It instead looks to the sexual and sensual relationship between bodies. While still focusing on Twigs, as she is often in the centre of the frame or appears alone, the relationship between Twigs and her partner is powerfully real. With the aspect of kink involved, the cardinal rule within the community: Safe, Sane, and Consensual, is paramount within the video. While not everyone digs getting fingers put into their mouth, Twigs obviously wants it and expresses in multiple ways that she is consenting to this kind of play. The same goes for the breath play (or choking) involved in the video.
Note: Breath play is dangerous and is considered extreme within the kink community. Do not do this kind of play without researching techniques and does or don’ts (like never wrap rope around the neck). Safe is the first part of the cardinal rule, and make sure you discuss any kind of play you are interested in with your partner before the fun stuff.
In my opinion, FKA Twigs’ video Papi Pacify is a wonderful popular culture representation of the relationship between consent, kink and feminism. You don’t have to be into kink to be a feminist but it is a lot of fun!
Want more on Kink and Feminism check out another blog post here!
To check out the lyrics click here!