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Song Lyrics that Piss Me Off

(October 1, 2007)

by Jemima Aslana



Maybe I'm just being overly nitpicky, but sometimes I hear song lyrics that outright piss me off or at least make me think "Why the hell did they write a song when they clearly haven't grasped reality?" But I suppose many song lyrics hold the same attributes as much of the crappy goth poetry out there. It's written from emotions without much thought to what is actually being said. Some of these lyrics are so off the deep end that I turn off the radio every time these songs come on. This is a harsh judgment to pass, but there are some things that annoy me to no end, and what most of these songs have in common is a complete and utter disregard for women and equality. Or at least the lack of understanding thereof.

I shall exemplify. A Danish singer - fairly new on the scene - called Burhan G has had his break-through with the song Who Is He. The music is good, I like the tune, I like its sound. BUT. The lyrics. The basic premise of the song is that the male singer has found out that his girlfriend has cheated on him, and he is hurt (no bloody wonder) and he asks he question why. But if we look at the lyrics it become quite obvious why. At least to me it does. In the refrain he asks:

"Who is he?
Where's he from?
What does he do that I couldn't have done?"

And that exactly is my point. That other man may simply be a personality she likes better. The singer makes the mistake of thinking it is a competition between two men in similar disciplines and the girl is the prize. It is NOT a competition; it is a matter of chemistry. And what that other man does that the singer couldn't have done? Well, he's another person, that's kinda hard for someone to be.

Why is it that the woman cannot just like the other man better or more for who he is? Why is it that there must necessarily be something where the singer can walk in caveman style and say "I do better than him, I win you, come to my cave." Every time we get to the refrain of the otherwise lovely song, I can't help but think to myself: "Well, duh, there's your answer, you think of 'your woman' as a prize to claimed, is it any wonder she's not faithful?" We can always go into the debate of whether she shouldn't just have broken off the relationship, but he singer would probably have written the sing anyway. It is this inability to accept the fact that sometimes it is not necessarily about being better than the other, but only about matching more closely.

And of course not thinking of women as prizes to be fought for, won, and claimed. It pisses me off to no end.

Then there are the worse bits, namely the women who don't seem to have understood the point of feminism, emancipation and equality: the women who see themselves as objects to be won.

I'll start in the obvious end. Pussycat Dolls - I don't need a man. The text as such is not terribly off the deep end. But looking at the video, those girls are posing in ways that make at least me think of nothing other than sexual come-ons. Their name Pussycat Dolls, ye gods, they actually describe themselves not as living beings but as dolls of a sexual nature. Their hit “Beep!” states that they really don't give a shit if men think of them as objects, they're just gonna "do their thing", but what they haven't seem to have realized is that as long as they allow and even encourage men to look upon them as objects they're gonna have to work all the harder to be allowed to "do their thing", unless of course their thing is posing invitingly for the pleasure of the (mostly) male viewers. The day the women with that attitude want to be respected as say lawyers, politicians, doctors you name it, they're gonna have a hard time of it, because they pretty much told the men that they were objects, and they shouldn't really mind what they're doing. And then there's 'Doncha'. Yeah, way to go. Being a liberated woman does not mean you have to go to steal other people's partners. That's just low, and it perpetuates the image of women as conniving people who are only out to score a man, preferably someone else's. And I could go on, but I won't.

This gets me to m greatest disappointment. Beyoncé. A strong woman in showbiz who has managed to keep her personal life mostly secret. I have a lot of respect for that woman, but some of her texts... no no no.

Let's start from one end of her B-Day album with Irreplaceable. The first song to irk me. The message is grand: "Don't think you're worth so damned much that you can be an asshole and still be the best." That's fabulous. I whole-heartedly agree. But then there's one line that gets me. It's once again in the refrain:

" Standing in the front yard telling me
How I'm such a fool - Talking about
How I'll never ever find a man like you"

To this I'd say: "Well, seeing as you turned out to be an ass I wouldn't WANT to ever find someone like you!"

But instead Beyoncé replies:

"You must not know about me
You must not know about me
I could have another you in a minute
matter fact he'll be here in a minute"

The hell? She wanted another him? Why did she get rid of him in the first place then? I can't help but think of how surveys and information from crisis centres for women show that a woman who has had an abusive relationship is more likely to enter into a new one of the same kind. There is a strong tendency to repeat our mistakes, and what does one of the strong women in showbiz sing? She sings: "Hah, I can find someone else to treat me as badly as you did!"

Mind you, I know that's not what the good Beyoncé means, but it *is* what she says. And the fact that she didn't think about it, the fact that no one seems to think about this worries me. There is far too little attention paid to the issue many women have with breaking a vicious circle often established for them by their fathers or other male family members when they were but children. This needs awareness, not old clichés in pop songs.

Since pop is something that reaches pretty much everyone this is one of the places where people could really make a difference, but do they? Nope, they make blunders like this one.

I'm gonna skip lightly over all the flirtatious texts, because they are not what I take issue with. Another song of Beyoncés gets to me as well. It's the one called 'If'. The refrain goes "If you let him take me from you". Now come on, honey, are you a thing to be taken? A prize to be won? The only one who's letting anyone do anything is YOU. Your current boyfriend may hve caused you to lose interest in him, BUT YOU are the one deciding to leave him, he's not the one deciding whether he let's another man 'win' you. That decision is entirely the woman's and here is a woman, a supposedly strong woman at that, telling the men that she IS a prize to be won, a thing to be fought over.

And that is simply pathetic. Is there so little awareness in women today about the sending of such messages that this is overlooked completely? Surely I can't be the only one who has noticed, but I seem to be the only one who reacts. And while the songs irk me, the fact that so few respond to them saddens me greatly. Feminism really have a long way to go yet, and half the battle needs to be fought among women.

Ironically one of the female singers who have really worked for women in her songs AND videos (yay consistency) is Christina Aguilera. She started out as teen and pre-teen idol and I had very little respect for her, she was just another run-of-the-mill singer. But that woman has really blossomed. Songs such as Beautiful, Can't Hold Us Down and Fighter and the accompanying videos (yay consistency!) are the kinds of songs and messages that I have oodles of respect for. Simply because they emphasize those things that should be self-evident, but apparently are not.

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