I’m not a feminist. At least I don’t think I am. But I’ve noticed two distinct types of woman in pop music recently, and I’m wondering which is worse. I’d be interested to hear what you think on this topic.
The first portrayal is the obvious one: women as sexual objects. We’re not exactly stuck for examples here – Lady GaGa riding an inflatable dolphin, Beyonce waggling her gusset around in the video for Single Ladies, and let’s not forget that dance video with all the babes exercising in lycra outfits.
The second treatment of women is less blatant. It’s embedded in the lyrics of songs. Let me quote Miss [[Taylor Swift]] as she approaches the climax of her Love Story video:
He knelt to the ground, pulled out a ring and said
”Marry me Juliet, you’ll never have to be alone
I love you and that’s all I really know”
What a classic lyric – marry me or you’ll get left on the shelf a lonely old hag. What a freakin’ charmer! Let’s have a look at Beyonce Knowles, surely the embodiment of the independent 21st Century woman? In Single Ladies, she’s telling the men that if they want to keep their women, they need to be marrying them, or at least show you’re serious through the universal currency of jewellery.
Perhaps a suitable response is: if you like it, you shoulda took a swing on it. Sorry, couldn’t resist 🙂
Part of the inspiration for writing this post is that I’m the father of a young daughter who’s increasingly listening to pop music.
Which is the best role model for a little girl: the frenzied jiggling of Beyonce, or the passive, Disney Princess shite that Taylor Swift in singing? Lyrically, both are giving out unrealistic expectations. Is marriage the right direction for every relationship? Divorce statistics would suggest otherwise.
Whenever I do a post like this, someone always complains that I’m taking music too seriously. I think sometimes it pays to take a second look though.
I cringe whenever I think my daughter might spend a percentage of her life fantasising about the Princess syndrome. Handsome princes are a dime a dozen in fiction, but they’re thin on the ground in real life. The lyric from Love Story I quoted above makes me angry for the implication: “If you don’t marry me, you’ll spend your life alone.” Hell, faced with a proposal like that, I’d run away!
On the other hand, Beyonce’s music seems to promote a more independent spirit for young women. But if you scratch the surface, it’s quite anti-men. Girls group together and bitch about what deadbeats their men are. Take for example Irreplaceable in which the aforementioned deadbeat has sponged off her while cheating on her. And back in the Destiny’s Child days, Bills Bills Bills told a similar story of a lazy man who was just there to sponge money off our Beyonce.
From a musical perspective, I enjoy all of the songs I’ve mentioned. But sometimes I wonder about how women view themselves in these videos and songs. It’s either starry eyed fantasy or man-hating nonsense.
What’s your view?