Pop Music and Gender Roles

Lately, I’ve noticed an alarming amount of pop songs (usually R & B or rap ) about the idea of (temporarily) switching gender roles. At first, I get REALLY excited, until I listen to the whole song and decide that it is superficial at best, and at worst it reinforces these stereotypes more than it honestly questions them. I know that pop music isn’t expected to change the way our society thinks about gender and that I probably have my hopes up because I listen to so many less known artsits that seem to put more thought into their lyrics, but I feel that a huge opprotunity is being missed with these attempts.

Two new songs that fit this current trend, as I see it are "If I Were a Boy" by Beyoncé and "Trading Places" by Usher. In the first, Beyoncé lays out what her life would look like if she were a boy (man?):

"If I were a boy, even just for a day

I’d roll out of bed in the morning and throw on what I wanted and go

Drink beer with the guys, and chase after girls

I’d kick it with who I wanted, and I’d never be confronted for it

Cause they stick up for me"

My intial response after hearing this on the radio for the first time was: But Beyoncé, I’m not a boy and I typically throw on jeans and a t-shirt everyday. And I drink beer. The rest of the song is bascially about how girls love so pure and true and all a guy does in a relationship is cheat and lie and go clubbing. Not only is it offensive to women who don’t sit around calling their boyfriends all the time in heels and fits of paranoia, it accuses all men (or boys) of fitting into this insensitive jerk prototype.

In the next song, Usher talks about wanting one night where his sexual partner and he can trade places. Awesome, I thought, Usher’s totally about to break through the idea that women are submissive in bed! Lo and behold, this song was more disturbing to me than the first one:

"Gon pay for dinner take me to see a movie

And whisper in my ear I bet you really wanna do me

Girl now take me home and get me up in Benz

Pour me a shot and force me to the bed

(Chorus)

I’m always on top, tonite I’m on the bottom

Coz we trading places

When I can’t take no more, tell me you ain’t stopping

Coz we trading places

Now put it on me till I say OOO Weee

And tell me to shut up before the neighbors hear me

This is how it feels when you do it like me

We trading places."

Ok, breathe. I’m sure he isn’t REALLY asking his date to get him drunk and force him into bed like he would normally do at this point in the night…wait he is. Also, he wants her to continue having sex with him after he has told her to stop. And he wants to be told to shut up, as he would say to any woman who’s not holding back her vocal manifestations of pleasure. This would be appropriate only if the song was about S & M, where two people consent to rough or "rude" bed play. In the morning, Usher makes her breakfast, makes her bed, but then (confusingly) still takes her shopping. I thought she was being "The Man"? This song is wrong from the very beginning, when it is assumed that the only reason a woman would "get on top" is if she were acting like a man, because Usher told her to.

I’d like to see if any of you have noticed this trend, have thoughts about these two songs or any others that I might have missed. Makes me want to write rap song called "Being my Own Girl":

I don’t shave my legs, and still rockin’ skirts

Drinkin’ strait whiskey till my liver hurts

Just because I have short hair, don’t call me a dyke

And don’t honk or whistle at me when I’m riding my bike

If you can’t spell "Feminism", get away from me

Cause I don’t date men who are down with misogyny

Word.

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55 Comments

  1. AnUnfunnyFeminist
    Posted December 8, 2008 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    Your song is the best, Meggy B!
    I don’t find Beyonce’s song too offensive. Usher’s lyrics are just plain gross. I think his lyrics reinforce gender roles more than Beyonce’s does. I think Beyonce is lamenting not being able to do the same activities as men without being blamed. It seems like Usher’s experience with “equality” only benefits him. He doesn’t seem to see the value for women in experimenting with their sexuality. It’s all about Usher’s pleasure.
    I kind of like Ne-yo’s “Miss Independent.” I think he appreciates women who do for themselves and expect nothing less from their partners. It reminds me of “No Scrubs” by TLC but sung from the point of view of a man. The only part I don’t like from “Miss Independent” is when he says “There’s something about kinda woman that can do it for herself. I look at her and it makes me proud.” She doesn’t need your approval, Ne-Yo!

  2. Jessica
    Posted December 8, 2008 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    Hey, you might appreciate this. http://current.com/items/89591126/sergio_s_white_hot_top_5_top_selling_itunes.htm It’s a short clip from Infomania and it makes a jab at Beyonce’s song for the same reason you talked about in your post.

  3. Jessica
    Posted December 8, 2008 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

    Another comment! Your post made me think of a song. Kate Perry’s “Hot n Cold.” I love singing along with it in my car, but the lyrics annoy me. It starts off with
    “You change your mind like a girl changes clothes
    Yeah you PMS like a bitch, I would know”
    Sheesh, talk about crappy lyrics right? Though I know not all women are feminists it still boggles my mind that a woman would willingly sing this. Does she know what she’s perpetuating?

  4. nattles_thing
    Posted December 9, 2008 at 12:01 am | Permalink

    http://jezebel.com/5096345/is-the-meaning-behind-beyonces-music-misunderstood
    Read this. She has an interpretation that is very different from yours, and I think that’s interesting.

  5. emily22
    Posted December 9, 2008 at 1:45 am | Permalink

    I have been wanting to hear people’s thoughts on Beyonce’s ‘If I Were a Boy,” for a while. I think what bothers be the most about it is the fact that it puts men and women into two steriotypical categories; the doting, needy girlfriend and the cheating, jerk boyfriend. There is no accounting for the complexities of relationships. Also couldnt Beyonce have highlighted certain things that “boys” are priveledged to in our society that are more prominent (such as men being payed more than women on average). I’ve also been annoyed by Katie Perry’s “Hot n Cold”! WTF? She is insulting the guy by calling him a woman, right?
    On a happier side, I really enjoy Ne Yo’s “Miss Independent” too! Are there any other good pop songs that actually have a positive message about women?

  6. nilbog
    Posted December 9, 2008 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Don’t forget Ciara’s song “Like a Boy” where she ponders what her relationships would be like if she acted like a boy. The rest of the lyrics are worth a look but here is the chorus:
    What if I?…
    Had a thing on the side?
    Made ya cry?
    Would the rules change up?…
    Or would they still apply?…
    If I played you like a toy?…
    Sometimes I wish I did
    act like a boy

  7. MoonPie
    Posted December 9, 2008 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Ok, totally not pop or hip-hop, but anybody remember Dar Williams’ song “When I Was a Boy”?
    (YouTube of Dar singing the song)
    (Lyrics)
    Most of the song is about her experience growing up as a “tomboy” (“I was a kid that you would like, / just a small boy on her bike / Riding topless, yeah, I never cared who saw”), but in the last stanza, she addresses her boyfriend and he responds:
    And so I tell the man I’m with about the other life I lived
    And I say, “Now you’re top gun, I have lost and you have won”
    And he says, “Oh no, no, can’t you see
    When I was a girl, my mom and I we always talked
    And I picked flowers everywhere that I walked.
    And I could always cry, now even when I’m alone I seldom do
    And I have lost some kindness
    But I was a girl too.
    And you were just like me, and I was just like you”
    “And I have lost some kindness”…most important line in the song. Amazing.

  8. syndicalist89104
    Posted December 9, 2008 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Meggy, we gotta get you a record deal.

  9. the_feminist_next_door
    Posted December 9, 2008 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    See, I really like if “I Were A Boy” because I see it as addressing unfair social standards for the genders. I think what Beyonce is saying is that if she were male, she could do certain things she may want to do (like drink beer and dress casually) free of social judgment. I think this is a good point too, and the pop music industry demonstrates this unfair standard quite plainly. There are magazines and TV shows whose sole purpose is to judge female pop stars for the way they choose to spend their leisure time or the slightest physical imperfection, whereas male pop stars get a lot more leeway. Also, I don’t think she is saying all men cheat and lie. I think she is saying they can get away with such behaviors whereas women can’t- which is also very true. Being a “playa” has a much more positive connotation than being a “skank.”
    PS: MeggyB, I love your song!

  10. marilove
    Posted December 9, 2008 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    I think maybe Beyonce was commenting on how a man can be a dog and that is seen as normal, but if a woman were to do the same, we’d be seen as bad. Same with Ciara’s song. That’s how I see it, anyway. And it has a lot of truth to it.
    And with Beyonce, she’s always been “I am strong and can do this on my own, without having a man, but I love you and I want you, let’s do this together!”

  11. pinko
    Posted December 9, 2008 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    i definitely thought of ciara’s ‘like a boy’ as i was reading this (i admit, i had not heard the beyonce song). i don’t know about beyonce, but i never got anything from the ciara song other than pointing out that what is acceptable and standard for dudes is f*cked up, and a ‘how-would-you-like-it’ attitude to point out that it’s not cool (rather than an ‘i-wish-i-could-be-like-that’ sentiment). plus, the ciara video is way hot.

  12. GatsbysLover
    Posted December 9, 2008 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    I don’t find Beyonce’s song all that offensive; I just find it completely annoying. Especially her use of the word “boy.” Is she talking about 15-year-olds?

  13. kb
    Posted December 9, 2008 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Has Beyonce commented on the song? I mean, I do tend to go with the immediate feeling that it’s an overexaggeration to make a point-and the point, the double standards needs to be made, again and again til people get it. But I don’t know if that was her intention. and I really wish I did.

  14. Veronica
    Posted December 9, 2008 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    There’s also the Ciara song “Like a Boy”:
    Pull up your pants
    (Just Like Em’)
    Take out the trash
    (Just Like Em’)
    getting ya cash like em’
    Fast like em’
    Girl you outta act like ya dig
    (What I’m talkin’ bout’)
    Security codes on everything
    Vibrate so your phone don’t ever ring
    (Joint Account)
    And another one he don’t know about
    Wish we could switch up the roles
    And I could be that…
    Tell you I love you
    But when you call I never get back
    Would you ask them questions like me?…
    Like where you be at?
    Cause I’m out 4 in the morning
    On the corner rolling
    Doing my own thing

  15. Lisa
    Posted December 9, 2008 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    I’ve never heard the actual song, so perhaps I’m not the best person to judge, but I feel like the quoted Beyonce song is sending a different message than the one you’re getting. The lyrics seem to be highlighting the fact that women and men are held to different standards, rather than suggesting that all of these things are inherent differences between men and women. So while you may drink beer and dress casually you might be judged for being ‘too masculine’ or ‘letting yourself go’ whereas a man would be given a pass. This may be true to a greater degree in the lifestyle she lives and social circle she runs in, but these are not unusual double standards for any woman to have faced. Again, I haven’t actually heard the song, but the short excerpt doesn’t seem to support the interpretation you’re suggesting. It may not be an academic, nuanced look at gender roles, but at the very least it seems to be pointing out double standards (even if it is in a very cliche way).

  16. Lisa
    Posted December 9, 2008 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    Considering how often grown women are referred to as “girls”, it’s interesting to see it switched. I don’t listen to much Beyonce, so I don’t know if it’s like her to intentionally make that connection, but it still mirrors the casual way we address younger women.

  17. Lisa
    Posted December 9, 2008 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    PS – I second/third/fourth the record deal for Meggy B. :)

  18. Meggy B
    Posted December 9, 2008 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    (Jessica, yes I too feel that way about Katie Perry.)
    What I mean with the Beyoncé example is that yes, she’s pointing out double standards but she provides no solutions or alternatives. She acts as if that’s just the way that it is and it will never change. I would have liked a lyric about the fact that these things aren’t necessarily true for everyone and that her man needs to bring himself up to date with the way women are today. Or maybe a lyric about finding a different kind of man that doesn’t behave that way. My sentiments are addressed with the video that Jessica posted, where the guy says something like “Imagine a world where women did things like this, wait, we’re living in it.” Exactly. Perhaps if this video came out 20 years ago, I’d feel like it was more effective with its message.
    And thanks for all the record deal well wishes, but I’m more of a poet than a rapper :) . My suburban Texas post-valley girl tone would be too grating for the public’s ears.

  19. Geneva
    Posted December 9, 2008 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    I really agree with jezebel’s interpretation. i definitely thought “if i were a boy” was saying more that that’s how the stereotypes are and it’s unfair that the guy profits from the whole boys club deal while she’s being a decent person and, y’know, not cheating on him.

  20. Mariella
    Posted December 9, 2008 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    The thing about Beyonce’s song is that it’s a song, not an academic analysis. She’s pointing out the double standards to make the point about how much it hurts to be a woman in that situation. And yes, women can do those things now but there’s still a lot of judgment and resistance and you know what, that still hurts.
    And I think she DOES kind of say that the man needs to get up to date or she WILL find a better man, with “you don’t understand how it feels to love a girl, someday you’ll wish you were a better man, you don’t listen to her, you don’t care how it hurts until you lose the one you wanted cuz you’ve taken her granted and everything you had got destroyed”
    Beyonce has been out there with a feminist message ever since Independent Women (or even before that) and I love her for it. You don’t see a lot of other female pop stars doing that, especially not those who are as successful as she is and I think she deserves a lot of credit.
    She doesn’t always say things exactly the way I would but I still respect her feminism very much.

  21. Mariella
    Posted December 9, 2008 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    and by the way that usher song was DISGUSTING. as if i needed more reasons to hate usher. ew *shudder*
    your song rocks though :)

  22. llevinso
    Posted December 9, 2008 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    But Meggy, I think her song is telling us how some things could be different or helped. What I get from the song is that if Beyonce were a boy she could truly be a better guy because she’d understand what it’s like on the other side of the relationship. So really, if we all open our eyes and ears and listen to each other things will get better. That’s what I got from it at least.

  23. kb
    Posted December 9, 2008 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    exactly. I think showing the f*ed upness of the double standard is the first step.

  24. Meggy B
    Posted December 9, 2008 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    Maybe if the song was called “If I Were That Kind of Boy” it wouldn’t have bothered me so much. I just hate the whole idea that women (particularly black women) only get into relationships with no good men. It’s exhausting. As a multiracial woman myself, I often can’t relate to many of the types of female/male interactions that are present in popular R & B songs. Beyoncé’s real life doesn’t seem to be this way. I believe Jay Z treats her with the love and respect that she deserves. What would the song be like if it were called “If I Were Jay Z”? It doesn’t have to be an academic thesis, I just wish there was MORE to be excited about in songs about gender switching.
    PS: Thanks for all your comments. Now I know I’m not the only crazy in her car obsessing over lyrics on the radio.

  25. Sandor Krasna
    Posted December 9, 2008 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    To echo what some of the people got right here:
    Consider the line, “I’d kick it with who I wanted, and I’d never be confronted for it”…it’s deliberately sardonic, hardly a subjunctive phrasing; Beyonce’s idea is that “if she were a boy” she wouldn’t have to deal with confrontations, skepticism, that simply she could do what she wanted because males occupy a predominant role in determining fidelity.
    Read the Wikipedia page for how the video (and song) operates, specifically how its ending twist reinforces Beyonce’s narrative of incredulous double standards. Few people in pop music – certainly R&B – are quite as creative (and effective) at excoriating the gender roles of our society.

  26. llevinso
    Posted December 9, 2008 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    I see what you’re saying about how it seems the song is lumping all men together…but honestly if the song went “If I were that kind of boy” it just doesn’t sound as good. This isn’t a dissertation on gender stereotypes, it’s a pop song. They have to be catchy and to have a longer title like that that doesn’t really fit in with the rythym of the song just doesn’t work.

  27. alexandra_n
    Posted December 9, 2008 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    For anyone in a particularly masochistic mood, go look up the rest of the words to the usher song and watch the video.
    I would write more about my thoughts, but now I have to go and take a shower. this song is horrible.

  28. Mariella
    Posted December 9, 2008 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    I really really hope that Jay-Z treats her with the respect she deserves. When I saw him at the Pemberton festival he did a disgusting couple of verses that were basically about how he wants to fuck groupies, and long as they “don’t tell the missus”. and that was his lead in to crazy in love. gross. I like to think though that it’s an act and she would leave him if he really did that.
    I still disagree with you on If I Were a Boy but I definitely feel you on how R&B songs are constantly about the women being wronged by the men, and often the women in the songs choose to stay, like they’re martyrs or something. I think it has to do with the blues roots of the genre, at least partially. It’s still stupid and dangerous but I think Beyoncé is different, more empowered; if the relationship is bad, she will be upset but she WILL leave.
    One more thing and then I’ll stop… I do think that If I Were a Boy represents one specific experience (that a lot of women go through, and I appreciate her supporting us), which is ok with me because her other songs show different experiences.

  29. KatieinNewYork
    Posted December 9, 2008 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    Not only is Sergio’s response to Beyonce’s (first) song on the countdown funny, but the ending is -hilarious-.

  30. runningnerd
    Posted December 9, 2008 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

    He Say She Say by Lupe Fiasco has a gender flip and it’s hella deep, like all Lupe Fiasco songs.

  31. Alan
    Posted December 9, 2008 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    Does anyone feel like people are bending over backwards to try and leave Beyonce untouched?
    Her music – especially “If I Were a Boy” – has problems with gender stereotyping just like virtually all pop music.
    I think there’s a trend to say “But it’s Beyonce! She’s so independent!” and let her off the hook. She’s not perfect and the Jezebel post is a little over the top in trying to wiggle interpretations around to leave her lyrics perfectly enshrined.

  32. Mariella
    Posted December 9, 2008 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

    No, I really think that the reason everyone is defending If I Were a Boy is that it is making a major effort to point out double standards and encourage empathy in relationships. Of course she’s not perfect, like I said I wouldn’t put the message out there in the same way but I appreciate her continued efforts to get them out there.
    There are definitely lines in certain songs I don’t like, and I don’t like Put a Ring On It at all, but she deserves credit for Independent Women, Survivor, Me Myself and I, and If I Were a Boy, among others. I’m glad she’s trying to use her huge success to actually put a good message out there.

  33. llevinso
    Posted December 9, 2008 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    Actually, Alan, I really don’t like Beyonce at all. I don’t like her music and I really dislike her “acting” as well. I don’t know what it is about her, but I just really don’t like her at all. But I still will defend what I think of the lyrics in this song.

  34. Alan
    Posted December 9, 2008 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

    So you have no problem with the way in which it stereotypes men as lazy, apathetic, selfish slobs?
    What if Justin Timberlake came out with a song that said something to the effect of: “If I were a girl, I’d have no responsibility and rely on my boobs to get what I wanted.”
    We’d be all over that.

  35. llevinso
    Posted December 9, 2008 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

    Alan, I’ve already responded to how I interpret these lyrics and if that’s what I thought Beyonce was doing I’d have a problem with it. Maybe you should read my previous comments.

  36. Alan
    Posted December 9, 2008 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

    I’ve read your comments. I agree with the commenter above that, while it does point out a double standard, it would have been a little more edgy 20 years ago. If we look at her song as a mini-cultural discourse through the filter of contemporary feminist academia, this kind of song belongs more in the 70s than in a feminism informed by queer theory. I’m not saying the kind of man she speaks about is not still a problem.
    I’m saying that the way she centers her song reifies gender stereotypes and, as a feminist, I’m concerned with breaking those down wherever possible. The construction of gender stereotypes by someone perceived as FEMINIST is even more damaging to the movement.
    Now, it’s fine to look at it as a benign “This is her experience and she’s sharing it” situation. That’s what I gather from your comments.
    But if people are trying to take it and throw it into the public sphere as a profound feminist statement, it’s not. This is the kind of thing that would get absolutely torn to shreds by contemporary feminist academics.

  37. timothy_nakayama
    Posted December 9, 2008 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

    The thing about intepreting song lyrics, is we all have different takes on what the lyrics mean…it’s all subjective.
    For example:
    But Meggy, I think her song is telling us how some things could be different or helped. What I get from the song is that if Beyonce were a boy she could truly be a better guy because she’d understand what it’s like on the other side of the relationship.
    While that is your intepretation, I actually have a different view of the matter (and neither of our views are wrong or correct). I tend to side with Meggy B’s POV of the lyrics for Beyonce’s “If I were a Boy”.
    At first when I heard the song for the first time, I thought, it would be a song about looking critically at the double standards between men and women (more focus on the womens’) but the way I see it, the song is just
    reinforcing gender stereotypes.
    I mean take a look at this:
    “If I were a boy, even just for a day
    I’d roll out of bed in the morning and throw on what I wanted and go
    Drink beer with the guys, and chase after girls”
    Yes, because there are no men who wear things they don’t like (tell that to corporate stiffs who wear a tie, and are not allowed to wear anything too “funky”…I’ve been there) and there are no women out there who don’t like or want to wear what they’re wearing. I reckon if you ask a random sample of women “Hey, do you want to wear what you’re wearing”, the answer, bar those who work certain corporate jobs, will say something alongs the lines of “of course. Otherwise why I would wear it?”
    And yes, men drink beer with the guys and chase after women…because yes, men do that…everyone knows! *rolls eyes*. Just like women like shopping and dressing up!!! Oh wow!
    In the end , the song reinforces the stereotype
    What I get from the song is that if Beyonce were a boy she could truly be a better guy because she’d understand what it’s like on the other side of the relationship
    Yeah, because this entire trope of “insensitive guy who just doesn’t understand women enough” is not something that is portrayed everytime in the media! And the whole thing about if men could understand women better, we’d all be better men… What is that even supposed to mean?
    I hear that phrase all the time….”Be a better man”…Robbie Williams even has a song titled just that. It’s sexist because it implies that men are faulty creatures who need to be better men by understanding women more. But when was the last time you heard anyone say “Be a better woman”? Somehow women magically understand everything about men because they’re just so much better at empathy and understanding others…or is that just another tired stereotype?
    Why not just “Be a better person” ? But of course, only men are insensitive and can’t understand women…the opposite is just not possible at all.

  38. llevinso
    Posted December 9, 2008 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

    I never said anything to the effect of this is her experience and she’s sharing it. That has been said by a few other posters, but not me.
    I have said that I felt the message of her song was to listen to one another and that will help us grow as a society that doesn’t have to conform to certain gender roles and will make our relationships better.

  39. Alan
    Posted December 9, 2008 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    “Somehow women magically understand everything about men because they’re just so much better at empathy and understanding others”
    I agree with you. This is a really tired stereotype. When people around me talk about this song it inevitably gets into painting all men as assholes. You have to do some tricky maneuvering to talk about this song without getting too broad in descriptions of men and women.

  40. Jenicole627
    Posted December 9, 2008 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been in love with his music since I heard “Kick, Push”
    “He said I would marry you but I’m engaged to these aerials and varials
    And I don’t think this board is strong enough to carry 2
    She said bow I weigh 120 pounds, now
    Lemme make one thing clear
    I don’t need to ride yours I got mine right here”
    I got really turned off by rap and hip-hop for a while because of many of the things already mentioned in these posts, but Lupe has restored my faith.

  41. dangerfield
    Posted December 9, 2008 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

    I recognize that Beyonce’s goal here is to point out a double standard that persists in her life and the lives of a lot of women. And while I’m glad that someone in pop music is willing to attempt to break these down, I am disappointed by the response of our community when she characterizes an entire gender as unfaithful and uncaring in the process. I think Meggy said it best when she noted how in the process Beyonce reinforces the stereotype and misses an opportunity to break it down. So why credit her with a feminist success?
    For every fourteen year old coming to terms with gender that hears the song and thinks “yes, I can do/deserve better” another just thinks “I guess its men vs. women after all.” We’re feminists. We hold everybody to a higher standard, and we’re right to be nitpicky. Lets not give out credit to pop stars that ALMOST take on gender roles from a feminist perspective.
    I mean, this is an area that really matters, and affects more people’s idea of gender than any feminist academic paper will. After all, where do we learn our gender roles? pop culture and our social environments. And there are enough of us feminists out there that we can demand better. Lets clamor for a pop star that writes songs like meggy.

  42. Lisa
    Posted December 9, 2008 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

    I defended the song and I don’t care for Beyonce at all. But at least in the quoted lines (I have never heard the whole song), I don’t see the problem the original poster saw. In response to your comment that the song characterizes men as lazy, apathetic, etc… I think the idea in the lines quoted is what she COULD do as a man. Not necessarily what all men do, but what men CAN get away with. But if you’d like to dismiss everyone’s well-thought out comments by assuming we just worship the ground that Beyonce walks on, go ahead.

  43. AnUnfunnyFeminist
    Posted December 9, 2008 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

    Instead of clamoring, I think it’s more effective to give props to the songs that get some of it right. This is Beyonce we’re talking about, not Gloria Steinem. If Gloria wrote that song, we’d be giving her hell about it. Beyonce is not a feminist voice. In that respect, she’s a layperson. We’re not saying it’s the most feminist song ever written, but it’s probably one of the most thought-provoking songs on the radio right now (and believe me, it hurts me to say that).

  44. Alan
    Posted December 9, 2008 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

    Jeez. Don’t put words in my mouth here. I didn’t assume people WORSHIPPED Beyonce. I was observing a trend in the blogosphere – Beyonce has a reputation as an independent woman and, in an effort to make her sometimes troublesome lyrics gel with that image, people will go to really great lengths to make the lyrics OK. Case in point: Jezebel.
    I’m not accusing or assuming idol worship and I don’t think my tone was particularly confrontational…

  45. Alan
    Posted December 9, 2008 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    Additionally, I wasn’t dismissing everyone’s comments. I read and thought about every comment on this page. I merely asked if anyone else saw what I was seeing in the song. Is that OK with you?

  46. Lisa
    Posted December 10, 2008 at 12:34 am | Permalink

    “Does anyone feel like people are bending over backwards to try and leave Beyonce untouched?”
    That was your original comment. Your point seemed to be that the commenters here were giving her a free pass simply because they like her personally or enjoy her music. And yes, I do think suggesting that people are “bending over backwards” to avoid placing blame is dismissive, because the suggestion is that if it came from someone else our reaction would be different. Think of it this way, if I accused you of bending over backwards to place the blame on Beyonce because you hate her (not saying that you do), that’s implying that your argument is merely based on personal feelings rather than a legitimate justification. I was pointing out that we have a long page of comments filled with articulate reasons for disagreeing with the original post. I don’t listen to Beyonce’s music at all (and I hardly think she’s an icon for feminism) nor do I follow celebrities so I’m not invested in any way in what the ultimate verdict on her song was.

  47. Alan
    Posted December 10, 2008 at 3:20 am | Permalink

    Lisa,
    My original comment:

    Does anyone feel like people are bending over backwards to try and leave Beyonce untouched?
    Her music – especially “If I Were a Boy” – has problems with gender stereotyping just like virtually all pop music.
    I think there’s a trend to say “But it’s Beyonce! She’s so independent!” and let her off the hook.

    I wasn’t saying anything about people bringing their personal feelings, their musical taste or attraction to Beyonce into the figure. All I referenced was her reputation as “independent.”

  48. Susan B.
    Posted December 10, 2008 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    “Drinkin’ strait whiskey till my liver hurts”
    Wait…so we ARE equating alcoholism with feminism?

  49. Meggy B
    Posted December 10, 2008 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Not everyone who drinks whiskey is an alcoholic. And no, we aren’t equating the two. I’m simply fucking with the idea that women don’t enjoy drinking liquor that isn’t watered down with fruit juice and umbrellas. I look really young for my age and people are always giving me shit for ordering the “Big Boy” drinks, especially here in Texas. Plus, it rhymed.

  50. Meggy B
    Posted December 10, 2008 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    Yeah Alan, I got that initial feeling as well.

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