In 2018, Dr. Heidi R. Lewis, Associate Director and Assistant Professor Feminist & Gender Studies, will be published in the Journal of Black Sexuality and Relationships. Lewis’ article, “Damn, I Love the Strippers!: A Black Feminist Analysis of Rihanna’s “Pour It Up,’” converses with objectification, subjectivity, sex work, and Black feminist theories in order to argue that “Pour It Up” is a vehicle through which audiences can more effectively understand the ontological and epistemological complexities of Black women exotic dancers. More specifically, Lewis argues that “Pour It Up” disrupts the grotesque/hypersexual dichotomy regarding Black women and their bodies in the popular/mainstream music industry by constructing exotic dancers as multi-dimensional artists and athletes, not always already objects lacking autonomy and self-determination or silenced bodies reduced entirely to their appearance. Additionally, she argues that the video’s focus on the dancers’ performances subverts the idea that exotic dancing is only significant as a consumer commodity, as well as the idea that constructions of Black exotic dancers must always perpetuate discourses that denigrate Black women.
Lewis was invited by Dr. Jeanine Staples to contribute the article to a special edition of the journal, “Love, Identity, and Literacies: Critical Explorations of Race, Gender, and Sexuality Through New Literacy Studies,” which “will forefront contributions that feature/trouble endarkened feminist/womanist, intersectional, and multimodal explorations of the use of new literacies among black and brown girls and women.” Further, the edition aims to “promote portraitures of the range and variation of black and brown women’s wisdoms in relation to love and life, in addition to the ideological and systemic phenomena that contest their love and life, namely white and black supremacist patriarchal ideologies and enactments (such as relational and social microaggressions and macroaggressions, which [Dr. Staples refers to as] t/Terrors).”