Note: I drafted this post a few weeks ago, but hadn’t published it yet when events in the news spawned the #Yesallwomen conversation. I wasn’t sure I would publish it because I didn’t want to sound too preachy. But now, I’ve decided to, in the spirit of #Yesallwomen. (If you haven’t read the Twitter feed on that hashtag, do it. You will be amazed, horrified, nodding your head, saying ‘yes, me too’ and more).
Here’s my original post:
As someone who values and admires creativity, my ideals include validating and encouraging all art. But reality has come smack dab up against my ideals. Here’s the problem: violence against women.
The other day, I was listening to a streaming music station on my iPhone as I worked in the yard. Happily, I clipped along to the playlist of one of my favorite artists. A song came on with a beat and lyricism that you cannot resist singing along to. It included a collaboration with a rap artist, embedded in the song. I love these collaborations – they’re super cool and interesting musically. I’d heard the song before, but had never really paid close attention to the lyrics. All the lyrics. As I did, they hit me like a ton of bricks. And I thought:
“This guy is calling a woman a b* and literally saying he’s going to eff her up because she isn’t pleasing him. And I’m singing it with him. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?” Yes, I was yelling at myself inside my head.
But then I said to myself, “Self, this isn’t the first song you’ve heard (or sung) with lyrics like this. Why are you freaking out now?” And, then I freaked out even more at the fact that I hadn’t freaked out about this before.
WHY hadn’t I freaked out before? WHEN did it become acceptable to glorify beating the stuffing out of a woman? Are we in the Twilight Zone, people? If you were to replace gender with race in these songs, people would completely lose it. And rightly so, because it would be wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. Where is the outcry when these things are said against women?
In art, we explore many things. But when there are dozens, perhaps hundreds of songs which include lyrics that make it sound okay, normal or that glorify violence toward women, we are sending a message. A horrible message. Millions of small choices make up our culture. I, perhaps you, and millions of other men, women, teenagers and even young boys and girls are happily listening to lyrics that imply that women are: beneath men, here only to serve men, deserve to be harmed in some way if the men in their lives are not pleased. And then we wonder why there is so much violence against women in the world. When we buy, stream and listen to these songs, we are saying it’s okay. And, it’s NOT okay.
So, I’m making a small choice. I can only choose for myself, but I hope you’ll consider joining me. I’m not talking about censorship. I don’t believe in the big brother approach. I believe in the power of the market. The power of the people. If people choose not to buy or otherwise support these songs, fewer of them will get made. Fewer of these hateful messages will be put out there. And fewer little boys and little girls will grow up thinking that women are nothing but objects that deserve to be used and abused.
From now on, I will not buy songs that have a mysoginist message, I won’t stream them, and I’m removing them from my playlists. I admit I’ll be sad to see some of the songs go, because I do love me a nasty bassline. But it’s gotta be done.