Sunday, March 17, 2013

"I'm Your Hell, I'm Your Dream, I'm Nothing In Between..."

TRUE STORY, about a year ago, I stopped listening to Top 40 radio.  Because I felt there were too many misogynistic lyrics in contemporary music.

I mean seriously, I was going to punch out the speakers in my car if I had to sit through another hit ("hit") by some trussed-up male ("male") who wanted to let me know he couldn't promise tomorrow so he'd like me to give everything tonight.

Even poor Carly Rae Jepsen, in her bubblegum glory, gave all the power to her man when she demurely asked him to call her, but only "maybe" (if he felt like it!).  (And he did feel like it, but he took his time with the call, and he gave her nothing at all, but still she took no time with the fall.  Because that's what adolescents [and, admittedly, your author] sing along to these days:  songs in which ripped jeans trump being an asshole.)

But the funny thing is that I don't know that I would have necessarily picked up on this trend had I not fallen into a habit last year of compulsively listening to my iTunes playlist of songs from the 90s.  In the 90s, the lyrics of hit songs fell 180 degrees in the opposite direction.  Can you imagine Alanis Morissette getting away with "You Oughta Know" today?  (Of course not; she'd be labeled a psycho, transformed into an internet meme, and left to rot in pop culture purgatory.)  Or Meredith Brooks having a hit with "Bitch"?  Or TLC getting airplay with "No Scrubs"?  To put this in perspective, we currently live in an era in which even Britney "Oops! I Did It Again" Spears has resorted to songs like "Criminal" (in which her justification for staying with her loser man - described as a "dog astray" - seems to be that he has a tattoo of her name on his arm - "so I guess it's okay he's with me").

Even "frat rock" in the 90s was brutally women-friendly.  Every song Hootie and the Blowfish put out had an innocent ring to it:  "Hold My Hand," "Only Wanna Be With You," "I Will Wait."

What the hell happened between now and then?

Not that long ago, there was a special on PBS about the feminist movement in America and there were two things that stuck with me above all else:  first, that even since I've been alive, things have changed extraordinarily rapidly for women.  And second, most social changes happen in cycles.

It goes without saying that I am better off today as a woman than I would have been had I been born during probably any other era in human history.  It also goes without saying that the changes I've noticed in song lyrics are a reflection of something larger that's going on culturally right now.  Something that has to do with male politicians arguing "legitimate rape" and birth control, and with little girls being sold sexualized clothing.  Something in the way the controversy ("controversy") whipped up by Sheryl Sandberg and her new book has me rolling my eyes.  With a high-ranking job at Facebook (now there's a true contributer to the betterment of society), she was on 60 Minutes last week, first pleading with women to stop "holding themselves back," and then laughingly sharing the story of how, in high school, she didn't want to be voted Most Likely to Succeed because the girls who were voted Most Likely to Succeed weren't the sort of girls who got asked to prom.

I don't know which was more idiotic:  the fact that she joked it off (as if to say, see?  Being insecure in high school proves that women are their own worst enemies!) or that, as the story progressed, her entire counterargument seemed to be that she is now a billionaire and has a husband, so gosh darnit, maybe she was prom-askin' material after all.

In the cycle of feminine power, we are most certainly at a strange crossroads in history.

But the viewpoint from over here, in this corner I'm designating for those girls who didn't give a flying fuck about going to their proms in the first place, is that while the rest of you hash out what it "means" to be a modern woman, we'll be over here actually being them, with our radios turned off, and our iTunes up full blast.


  1. Politicians are just stupid. I taught the world about birth control on SNL last weekend... Girls can't get pregnant in the summertime - Science!

    - JT
    (20/20 drops tomorrow! #Top40)

    1. This is the best comment ever left on this blog.

  2. Becky, we've never met. I randomly stumbled across your blog.

    You are a terrific blogger. Thank you for being awesome.

    1. Okay, now THAT might be the best comment ever left on this blog.

      THANK YOU FOR READING. And for being awesome yourself. :)

  3. So, I'm not gonna top the two previous comments, but this post has me repeating myself cause I totally love you! You're so on the spot with this one, it's just so fucking tragic that so much has changed for the worse in the past 20 (!) years (OK, 15-20, but still!!).

    In the 90s even our prime minister claimed to be a feminist (he wasn't but thought it might add some coolness to his image, imagine that!) and now the word is either shunned or used in a juvenile rethoric of if-it-makes-me-feel-empowered-it-must-be-feminist-so-my-choice-to-have-breast-implants-and-becoming-an-anorexic-porn-star-is-totally-a-feminist-life-choice. And frankly, of the two I'd prefer shunned if it makes it keep it's essential meaning.

    Well, I could write an essay, but I won't. I will say though, that over here there are signs that things are changing - that we might be expecting a backlash to the backlash, so to say, and I for one can't fucking wait. It's going to be an awesome day when you can once again listen to the radio or watch tv without having a patriarchy induced haemorrage...

    1. I knew you'd be with me on this one, Malin!! And I completely agree with you on there being a glimmer of hope that things might be moving back in the right direction. As awful as all of the rhetoric has been here, especially in the political arena, about women's rights lately, it's been incredibly heartening to see women (and the news media as a whole) reacting as they have (which is to say, fighting back against the idiocy). Now if only we can get that to spread throughout the rest of the culture, particularly pop culture since that seems to have more influence than just about anything else...

      Also, YES to what has been done to the word "feminist"!!!! Basically, a huge YES to your entire fantastic comment. :D (Every comment on this entry gets an A+!!!)