Today’s post is written by Aly en France for the Feminist Fashion Bloggers guest posting bonanza! Also check out my post on Amanda Palmer over at Northwest is Best.
So… it’s guest-posting day for the Feminist Fashion Bloggers! Franca, Jacky, and I are trading posts, and Franca is kindly allowing me to post on her blog today about Feminism in Music.
Most people associate musical feminism with Courtney Love, and it’s obvious to see why—2nd wave Feminism and all—but for me, “feminist” music is not just limited to that period of time.
I think of music as an art that everybody can connect with or relate to; music can often express sentiments better than we know how. It allows us to find words that suit our emotions. It can inspire, make us feel a particular emotion, inform, or just provide something fun to dance along to.
The problem is, a lot of the popular music today is downright derogatory towards females, and I, for one, cannot appreciate it as much if it is. I mean, I can appreciate the effort put into creating the rhythm and the mastery of words it takes to build a song that is catchy and fun, but when the carefully-crafted words only serve to portray a perceived attribute or characteristic of a woman in a negative light, or when the words are used to insult or destroy another person (male or female), I cannot lose sense of what the song is SAYING.
It may be because I’m a feminist, but I think part of it is that it makes me really uncomfortable to hear the abuse of words and know that sometimes, the words of songs that are popular create an adverse affect by encouraging the negative view of others and allowing harmful, stereotypical, sexist, or racist language to persist in popular culture. That frustrates me, because more than anything, we should be working against that.
Don’t get me wrong, I secretly love some of those awful dance-y songs where the words don’t have a positive meaning, but at the same time, I hate that they are popular. I am sometimes ashamed of the songs that I hear and enjoy when I take the time to analyze the lyrics. I’m taught, like everyone else, to enjoy that type of music. We are all socialized by our peers to appreciate similar things, and here… that is what is popular.
At the same time, there is music, POPULAR music, that does send a positive message to females.
I’ve been listening to a lot of Sara Bareilles lately; probably because she had a concert in my town recently, and I’ve had King of Anything stuck in my head non-stop since I heard it while thrift shopping with a friend. I’ve noticed a common theme in some of her songs: they encourage the positive portrayal of an independent woman that does not need the approval of a man to live her life. King of Anything is an example of such, as is Love Song, but the one that I love the most is Fairytale.
Fairytale addresses the traditional tales of princesses in a more modern way—what if the princesses didn’t rely on a prince to save them? What if their stories were those of average women, twisted into something they never were?
I love that take on fairytales. As a girl that has always loved Disney and fairytales, I’ve noticed for a long time that they often show women as needing men to save them, and Sara Bareilles’ song confronts that in a fun way. The last verse of the song is the best:
I don’t care
You’re so worried about the maiden though you know she’s only waiting
Spent her whole life being graded on the sanctity of patience
And a dumb appreciation
But the story needs some mending and a better happy ending
‘Cause I don’t want the next best thing.
We all sort of live in a fairytale, and we all sometimes buy into the ideals of society. It’s easy to slip into the role of a woman that needs a man or something similar. Popular music degrades women (and sometimes men!), and society simply allows it, even encouraging it.
But you know what? I, for one, do not care for that fairytale at all.
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