Do you remember the Love is a Battlefield video, in which a young, gamine, yet steely Pat Benatar flees paternal oppression in the form of her bougie shopkeeper dad and becomes a taxi dancer in what was at that time the armpit of the universe, Times Square? I just saw it at the gym, which thankfully has an ’80s pop channel for people like me whose cultural sensibilities are frozen in time but whose bodies are, alas, not.
When she first lands the dime-a-dance gig, she wears a lot of eye shadow and tolerates men rubbing their erections against her bony body. That is, until she witnesses the gold-toothed patron-pimp manhandle one of the other dancers.
Wrong move, mister. Benatar exacts her revenge against every old guy who ever thought he could boss a woman around (“We are strong/No one can tell us we’re wrong!”)
How? She dances at him menacingly. Yes, folks, she sneers and shimmies in his direction, which he finds very intimidating, and quickly backs off. She then leads the rest of the hard-luck ladies in a lethal shimmy surge, the women apparently shooting invisible poisonous darts from their clavicles. They win their freedom, march out toward the West Side Highway, scoring one for the sisterhood.
There is no epilogue so we don’t know what happened to them, but clearly in 1984 young Stephanie was meant to identify strongly with young Pat. (Which I did, shredding several outfits so I looked like what was then called a bag lady.) I’m just wondering, does Benatar’s shimmy still have the same effect on men? Did mine ever? Does mine now? I’m going to test it out. I’m in front of my bathroom mirror, and I’m going to try the shimmy. Here goes:
At 41 and after nursing two babies and two breast biopsies (both were benign but left scar tissue), shimmying is tremendously painful. What’s more, my butt jiggles, too, when i do it. That’s distracting, to say the least. I put on a jog bra and try again. Now they move in unison, but are neither scary nor sexy, nor sexily scary, as Benatar was back when I was a junior in high school. I’m going to leave it alone.
If you’re wondering if I have a point, I’m not sure I do. But I would feel a lot better if you all would try to shimmy and report back whether men cowered in fear, or whether, like me, you decided perhaps there were better things to do with your time and breasts.
Photo: Screen shot from YouTube video