‘Baby Got Back' Has a Surprising Anti-Violence Message
Listen, the number of ways "Baby Got Back" hasn't aged well would require an entire Justice League of arts and science scholars to calculate.
It reduces women not just to their bodies but a single body part, makes liberal use of misogynistic language, and skinny shaming isn't a great look, either. Basically, no one can accuse Sir Mix-A-Lot of respecting women too much.
That's why it's kind of weird that it also has a lot of lyrics about treating women right, asserting Mix-A-Lot's disapproval of men who "hit it and quit it" and/or "tell you that the butt ain't gol' so they toss it and they leave it." It's even weirder when he brings up domestic violence seemingly out of nowhere in lyrics like "I want to get with ya, I won't cuss or hit ya" and "He had game but he chose to hit 'em, and I pull up quick to get wit' 'em." What does domestic violence have to do with beggin' for a piece of that bubble?
A lot, it turns out. Women who are victims of domestic violence are less likely to be thin and more likely to be black or Latina. In other words, exactly the women the good knight is talking about. It's not clear why this is -- certainly, many women gain weight as a response to abuse -- but it seems logical that it's a lot easier to control people who are already oppressed, and there are few people more oppressed in Western culture than, as Mr. A-Lot puts it, "the thick soul sistas."
It's also common for abusers to body shame their victims to undermine their confidence and keep them in line. The whole song is about the lack of appreciation for black and Latina bodies in the dominant (you know, white) culture, so it makes sense that it would have been a prime sore spot for an abuser to poke. In the minds of many of the women, Mix-A-Lot was trying to reach, booty image was probably inextricably linked to abuse. He's basically saying, "Please stop believing you deserve to be treated badly just because society doesn't approve of your body." That wasn't a message that a lot of people were kicking around in 1992, so maybe we should just let him have the whole "knock-kneed bimbos" thing.
Top image: DefAmerican