Gendered Violence

No Doubt: Just a Girl

For this week’s entry, I’ve chosen I’m Just a Girl by No Doubt. This song centers an aspect of patriarchal violence frequently levied against woman, their infantilization. This portrayal of women as weak and in need of protection and guidance not only denies them their agency but makes them a target of the greater neoliberal project that generally detests weakness.

Both Verónica Gago and Françoise Vergès directly attribute a primary aspect of the war on women’s bodies on said greater neoliberal project, but Vergès directly implicates Ayn Rand’s “objectivist” philosophy as the bedrock of neoliberal ideology and its relationship with perceived weakness.[1] [2] He says:

“The psychic life of neoliberalism is based on the notion that success is strictly one’s own making, that egotism is the motor of excellence and wealth. Ayn Rand provided this ideology its philosophy: any vulnerability or sign of weakness is to be eradicated as an obstacle on the path of talented and motivated people—exclusively white men”[3]

In Just a Girl, front woman Gwen Stefani sings about this infantilization of women and the consequential repression that entails.

Take this pink ribbon off my eyes
I’m exposed, and it’s no big surprise
Don’t you think I know exactly where I stand?
This world is forcing me to hold your hand

Cause I’m just a girl, oh, little old me
Well, don’t let me out of your sight
Oh, I’m just a girl, all pretty and petite
So don’t let me have any rights

The lyrics are clearly describing the correlation between the infantilization of woman and their systematized violence through the repression of their agency. This can be correlated with the neoliberal eradication of weakness and the subsequent paternal management of women’s bodies. Vergès states:

“The weak hereby (unsurprisingly) become part of the new civilizing mission, the target of a paternalistic philanthropy determined to prevent any emergence of a new conception of inhabiting, of being human in the world.” [4]

Women are hence relegated to a form of sub-class paternal oversight, removing agency over their own bodies. It is a simultaneous presupposition of their weakness and an accusatory imposition of women’s necessity to take charge of their own weakness.[5]

Daniel Lazcano


[1] Verónica Gago, Feminist International: How to Change Everything, p. 23

[2] Françoise Vergès, A Feminist Theory of Violence: A Decolonial Perspective, p. 13

[3] Ibid, p. 13

[4] Ibid, p. 13

[5] Ibid, p. 13

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