Home Naked Music Monday Naked Music Monday: Ciara’s “Ride” as a Sex Work Anthem

Naked Music Monday: Ciara’s “Ride” as a Sex Work Anthem

Caty: Ciara’s given us many music and video masterpieces over the years: “Like A Boy” (is there anything better than her going soft butch?), “I’m Out” (a song that values ass shots, selfies, and texts as much as us harlots do), and “Never Ever” (cleverly riffing off syrupy 80s soft rock? Especially appealing to the sex worker sensibility, given how much of it we have to listen to appease our baby boomer clients). But her true hooker anthem is the unalloyed brilliance that is “Ride.”

Do not try this at home. Ciara in "Like a Boy."
Do not try this at home. Ciara in “Like a Boy.”

Josephine: Truth! Ciara’s created a plethora of handy tracks over the years.  “Goodies,” her breakout single, was played nonstop at work in its day, a perfect song for customers who just don’t understand that we won’t go home with them. The music video for her single “Work” is beautifully subversive; a band of gorgeous women dancing their asses off in a construction site, a space that is classically reserved for men only. Kind of like a strip club! But you’re right, “Ride” is easily her Unintentional Sex Work Anthem.

Caty: “Ride” is a triumphant declaration of mastery and a business philosophy all wrapped into one irresistible pop melody. The song begins with Ciara name checking herself, a statement of confidence in her own brand that is nothing short of delightful, chock full of the best sort of egotism. Each verse that follows is a celebration of physicality, performativity, and business savvy.

Ciara in her "Work" music video.
Ciara in her “Work” music video.

That the ride Ciara is referring to in the song is the dance of transactional sex is evident from the unabashed I’m-gonna-get-mine capitalist credo embedded within it: “I market it so good, they can’t wait to try me…handle my business like a big girl should,” she smirks. That “ride” could be any sort of sex work, from inspired floor work in a strip club to riding him in an energetic reverse cowgirl in an incall, as long as you remember to swivel your, “left hip, right hip, put your back into it…”

Josephine: Are the lyrics to “Ride” literal or metaphorical? It could go either way, really.

Caty: Ciara  is acknowledged as one of the best dancers in the R&B and hip hop world. So it’s gratifying that in this song she bucks the trend of desexualizing dance in order to legitimize it, in the same tired way avocational pole dancers often repudiate the strippers who first popularized their art. Instead, throughout “Ride,” Ciara blatantly underlines the connection between her athletic and sexual expertise: “I can do it big, I can do it long, I can do it whenever or however you want, I can do it up and down, I can do it circles,” she promises, and then attests that to her client, “I’m a gymnast, this room is my circus.”

Ciara's "Gimme That" music video.
Ciara’s “Gimme That” music video.

Josephine: This is what sets “Ride” apart from other sex work anthems: the emphasis on the physical. We spend a lot of time talking about the emotional labor of sex work but very rarely give ourselves credit for the endless physical endurance it requires: the hours spent grinding, strutting, smiling, crawling, bouncing. The video demonstrates a pretty standard work day for us. She’s unaccompanied, front and center, staring down the viewer, unblinking. She’s the picture of confidence, unwavering, laying out her skill set, with the moves to qualify it. An important part of our product is simply our sheer physical presence. In “Ride” not only is Ciara telling us that—she’s showing us.

Caty: Not only does Ciara get the elbow grease and grace we put into the job, she also has insight into how obnoxious our clients can be. Ludacris’ cameo in “Ride” sounds like the TER review of a client who was too bashful to even kiss you first in the hotel room reinventing himself as the stud who “raw dogged” you until you “exploded” on the boards: I put her out like a light, she’ll be out for the night. Soon as her head hit the pillows, sweet dreams. Wake her up about 30 mins later. Calling me the terminator, let’s go again. Red zone, I’m a get her first down. Call me Luda-Drew-Brees, I throw it in. Touch down! He scores! Ludacris: the MVP!

(Nothing like a man’s boorish sports/sex metaphors to make a girl feel appreciated.)

Nicki Minaj and Ciara in the "I'm Out" music video.
Nicki Minaj and Ciara in the “I’m Out” music video.

In the video, as Ludacris squats next to Ciara’s gorgeous convertible and delusionally details his sexual prowess, Ciara towers over him, nonchalantly chewing gum, her high heeled foot in his lap. (Suggesting, perhaps, that rather than being the vanilla sex god of his verse, Luda is instead a docile foot fetishist.) As he narrates, “She rides it like a rollercoaster/Soon as I get her to the top she screams,” he gestures to her and Ciara cocks her head and lets out a sarcastic mock scream while rolling her eyes. As he crowns himself a bedroom MVP, she absentmindedly fishes out another stick of gum. It’s clear that Ciara is unimpressed with Ludacris’ hobbyist rant, just as it’s clear who’s really in charge, who’s riding whom: “You are my Ducati,” Cici purrs. In “Ride,” men and women like us are capable and in control, riding them like pros and brushing off their bluster.


  1. I can’t with how fucking great this phrase is “Ludacris’ cameo in “Ride” sounds like the TER review of a client who was too bashful to even kiss you first in the hotel room reinventing himself as the stud who “raw dogged” you until you “exploded” on the boards”. No one will get that but us–and I love you for it.

  2. I’ve been getting a lot of flack from my social circle and feeling down about myself and my work, honestly, and this video picked me right back up. Totally an empowered sex work vid, took me right outta “you’re a low life whore” and right back ta “I can be the whore who kills it on the floor!”

    Throughout her work, there’s something about Ciara’s energy and confidence – something in the way she wears that cap, for example – that speaks to, “this is me, Ima make you want it.” (“I market so good…”). I honor and respect those who put on a role and sell it, making money spinning fantasies is real work – personally, I got burnt out on it, and find myself moving more and more towards wanting to market myself more as what I naturally am, which is Dominant and into some strange-ish fetishes. I have a lot of self esteem issues around this, lots of self doubt and doubt about “will anyone give me money for being the kind of sexy that I am,” and I don’t have much of a support system. It can be depressing. Then I saw this video.

    Ciara, you’re a total mentor in the world of being you and making em want it. Any time someones down on me now, I know what I’m gonna do – flip em off and keep Ridin’.


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