Friday, August 24, 2012

a rant: what makes you beautiful?

I'm going to quote the lyrics of two songs I heard while driving this morning. If you will, indulge me and read them. Singing along and bopping your head are optional.

Just leave with me now. Say the word and we’ll go
I’ll be your teacher. Ill show you the ropes
You’ll see a side of love you’ve never known
I can see it going down, going down

In my head, I see you all over me
In my head, you fulfill my fantasy (my head)
You’ll be screaming no (my head)
In my head, its going down (my head)
its going down (my head)
In my head. Yeah. In my head. Oh yeah
(by Jason Derulo)


If only you saw what I can see
You'll understand why I want you so desperately
Right now I'm looking at you and I can't believe
You don't know
Oh oh
You don't know you're beautiful
Oh oh
That what makes you beautiful
(by One Direction)


Do those two snippets make anyone else FURIOUS?

Let's ignore the singer, the genre, and the music. Let's forget that both songs can easily get stuck in your head all day. The tunes are undeniably catchy--that's why they're on the radio constantly. 

The problem, for me, is the words.

The first song assumes the girl is naive and ignorant, and that the singer is going to teach her everything she needs to know, which apparently includes fulfilling his fantasy, going down, and screaming no.

Think about that for a second.

The singer is saying, right there, that he's going to make a girl scream NO. Like that's a good thing.

He's saying that her function is to fulfill his fantasy. And that "a side of love (she's) never known" mainly involves being the object of his fantasy. That song doesn't say a single thing about what *she* wants, about her needs or dreams. Just his.

And then you get to the next song, which is even newer and more unavoidable. If your kids listen to the radio, it's impossible to miss. They even play it in the mall. And the main thrust of the song is that the girl in question is lovable  because she doesn't know she's beautiful. That what makes her attractive is her insecurity and weakness. That he's totally turned on by her good looks, but what really gets him off is that she doesn't know how beautiful she is.

Sweet baby jebus, what kind of damaged waifs are our girls supposed to be, to appeal to mainstream boys? Beautiful, but can't be aware of it. Naive. Willing to learn. Willing to be the man's fantasy. And this is what we're pumping into the airwaves: the message that knowing your own value is unattractive.

Now, I'm sure that if I spent an entire day listening to the pop station, I could find hundreds of lyrics about what makes a woman attractive. And I bet the only ones that involve women being strong, independent, brave, or "wrong in all the right ways" are written by... WOMEN. And it makes me so, so angry. That our society's music is used as a weapon against the female psyche, reinforcing younger and younger that the woman's self-confidence is negligible and that if she wants to be loved, she needs to be whatever the man wants.

And I bet you can guess where I'm going with this topic. I'm not going to get into politics, but I will say that women are currently being sent a very pointed message, and I will respond at the polls. I can't be surprised that the old, rich men who make the laws would benefit by keeping women just as insecure, quiet, and objectified as possible. Let the men make the rules. Let the men decide what you need to be, what's best for you. Don't define or enjoy your own sexuality; just be the man's fantasy. And in this case, the man's fantasy is that we'll be shamed or cowed into letting them take control of our rights.

Just shut your pretty mouth. The men will show us the ropes.

Guess what, guys who want an insecure woman who knows her place?

Screw y'all. 

I'm not that kind of girl. And I'm not going to raise that kind of girl.

My next book is about a powerful woman claiming what's hers. She's willing to do whatever it takes to save her family and her country. Along the way, she falls for an equally strong man who loves her ferocity and supports her endeavors. May we all find a man like that, a man whose fantasy is a woman at the height of her powers who doesn't need anyone's permission to kick ass.

May we all be that woman.



Sarajane said...

Yes,yes,yes! I would give anything to find a man who was not threatened by an intelligent, strong woman.

And to those powerful, rich men in politics, "Stay out of my vagina!"

Qwill said...

Well said. I have a teenage daughter who I've (hopefully) taught to define herself by herself and not in relation to what a guy thinks. If the fellows find her intimidating, so be it.

ChaosMandy said...

Very well said!

I was raised by a strong woman which made me strong. I hope I can do the same with my daughter.

Anonymous said...

I agree. It's hard to raise your kids to be strong yet caring, and to think independently when messages from the world indicate it's OK to demean women. There's a current country song about a first date that says "I should have kissed you. I should have pushed you up against the wall." Even my teen-age daughter said "That's disturbing."

aboleyn said...

Thank you! As the mother of a 9 year old girl every time I hear that New Direction song my blood boils. The insidious message being planted in young girls heads via catchy pop tunes is infuriating. Thank you for so eloquently covering a topic that has long frustrated me.

Karianna said...

I kid you not, the status below yours (mentioning this post) in my feed was all about how men need to be ready to rescue their princesses. SIGH.

Patty Blount said...


Matthew MacNish said...

As the father of two young women, that first song is incredibly infuriating. The second one ... meh. I hear it all the time, and my kids enjoy it, and while I haven't analyzed it that deeply, I don't think it's saying you HAVE to be unaware of your own beauty to be attractive, just that if you are, that's more attractive than say a girl or women who is obsessed with her looks.

That being said, there is no question that young women are bombarded with messages about how they must focus on their physical appearance, and be worried about whether or not they would be pleasing to boys, and it's bullshit.

Becca said...

I am a srtong woman because of my dad.He teach me how to be strong and he's my inspiration in life.