After unapologetically teasing her new single on social media for the past few weeks, Ariana Grande finally dropped the music video to “God is a Woman.” The song itself is sexual in nature, with lyrics like “You, you love it how I move you / You love it how I touch you / My one, when all is said and done, you’ll believe God is a woman.”

It’s truly a bop, and it’s good to hear a female pop star embracing their sexuality in a world where women’s sexual liberation often takes a backseat to that of men’s. But the video adds layers upon layers to the already metaphor-rich song.

It’s hard to know where to begin when analyzing the video’s imagery, so I’m going to start with the initial shot. “God is a Woman” opens with Grande slowly hula-hooping in outer space with the Andromeda galaxy rings around her waist. From the very first second, the singer shows her viewers that this is her world, as the universe literally revolves around her.

From there, the video only gets more symbolic. The next shot features Grande nude and covered in pink and purple paint, laying in a watercolor landscape that suspiciously resembles a vulva. These images of female sexuality are repeated throughout the video: Grande straddling the globe while fingering a hurricane; Grande singing with the legs of a giant woman spread behind her, sunlight pouring in between the thighs; Grande cradling a drawn-on baby belly decorated in flowers.

Arguably, the two most striking images of the video are the ones most likely to be talked about on your Twitter feed. The first features a voiceover of Madonna reciting Ezekiel 25:17, the Bible verse that Samuel L. Jackson recites in “Pulp Fiction.” Grande mouths along as Madonna makes just one small tweak: she changes the word “brothers” to “sisters.”

“And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my sisters. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you.”

The second image that will linger long after the video ends is the final shot. Grande and several other women recreate Michelangelo’s iconic painting “The Creation of Adam.” This time, however, Adam is replaced by Eve, and Grande herself takes the place of God.

And not only is Grande God, but she’s also whatever she wants to be. The video features images of Grande positioned as Hades, the god of the underworld, with Hell’s three-headed guard dog Cerberus snarling behind her.

In the scene with Madonna’s voiceover, Grande is dressed as Thor, the Norse god associated with fertility and the protection of mankind. Grande also appears as Gaia, the Greek mother goddess of all life and the she-wolf that mothered Romulus and Remus (tiny men stand below Grande in this shot, suckling at her underside).

Also, and perhaps most importantly, Grande is deaf to the criticisms fired at her. In one shot, she sits, posed as Rodin’s “The Thinker,” as men hurl insults up at her giant form. The words just bounce off. Grande is impervious to the critiques of tiny white men, just as she doesn’t care what anyone thinks about the way she chooses to express her sexuality. Which is exactly as it should be.

Writer Profile

Cameron Andersen

New York University
Cultural Anthropology and Gender & Sexuality

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