whb : sexist entertainment
September 9, 2004 03:35 PM

Sez Miz Roni:

This question follows me everywhere during almost every day. How does a feminist deal with the fact that sometimes she just loves the groove of an anti-feminist singer/musician? I know we all shake our groove thing to some pretty bad songs, but how do you get over this hypocritical aspect of our lives? Or are you a good feminist and stay away from anti-women/sexist lyrics? [Read the WHB responses.]

Maybe my idea of anti-woman/sexist is too narrow, because I don't think of any of the music I listen to as anti-woman. If it is, I have never noticed. It could just be my musical choices, though - because I am someone who always pays a great deal of attention to lyrics.

There is the occasional alt-country song (almost always sung by a woman, oddly) about which I'll think oh no you din't, usually in response to some bitchiness directed at another woman. I'd be curious to see Roni's own response to that question because of that - I know she's a country music fan; not just the "alternative" stuff I listen to; if the mix she sent out this spring was any indication, she runs the mainstream country gamut, and some (not all!) of that stuff is wacky with stereotype.

But mostly, my music somewhat accidentally falls in line with my politics - er, at least when the lyrics aren't so poetic they shift toward obscure.

There are exceptions. There's actually a song [Bis' "Listen Up"] that's tangentially about the songs I'm talking about - the indie boy rockers' tales of girl problems; the ones that take up the Troubadour's legacy and place women on a pedestal of mysteriousness and subtle gender stereotype, the ones that encourage a stalkeresque "if I just keep sleeping on her front porch, she'll realize she truly loves me" mentality. I like the indie rock; I like these boys, but it bothers me that their idea of respect for women is so silly, that their ideas of love are sometimes so warped-sounding. None of these boys think they're sexist, but it's still irritating. Because they're representing what the indie boys and girls who aren't in bands are thinking, too.

That subtle reinforcement of "girls do this / boys do that" in our pop culture is as destructive in some ways as the "gonna go beat up a cop and bang a ho" stuff people complain so loudly about. At least the latter you know is supposed to be fantasy. But we demand both, don't we? They wouldn't sell if we didn't want those fantasies.

Speaking of indie rock (a relevant sidebar). There's a not insignificant amount of sexism present in the indie music scene, still, and the music inevitably reflects that, even in terms of the artists you hear about from some of the ostensibly independent music media. I offset this by making music choices based on the worst, most conservative view of Affirmative Action - I pick music based on Venus and other feminist mags, and therefore know next to nothing about new guy-dominated bands. But now I'm exhausting my commentary on the actual topic and riffing on it.

Another relevant sidebar - there was a band on the Today Show some months ago. It might have been Maroon 5, and was definitely one of those pop bands masquerading as indie rockers. The lead singer (male) sported a "FEMINIST" t-shirt. Our host asked him why he was wearing said shirt; he said essentially "cause it's all about the girls". That's right. I'm a feminist because I'm all about the girls. Although in this case, very hard to assess whether it was latent sexism or simple stupidity talking.

As a final relevant sidebar, if I diverge from the music topic a bit, I do consume quite a bit of media fluff that is, if not sexist, at least not fodder for la revolution. Like, pretty much everything fictional TWOP covers, movie and television. But that's a subject for another day.

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your wicked thoughts

Men who use feminism to get laid deserve their own place on a remote island that has poisonous snakes and lots of hurricanes.

Thanks for addressing the indie music sexism. It's not just rap or country that have sexist or gender stereotypes in lyrics.

these are the thoughts of Kerri on September 14, 2004 03:14 PM

Hey, there's a bonus to the dumbass MTV bands sucking up to feminism and boys claiming feminism for a little bootay - it points young women to real feminism (sometimes, other times they just join LJ feminists and say stupid shit).

Yeah, the stereotype is everywhere. Sometimes being touted by people who call themselves feminists. GAH.

these are the thoughts of april on September 14, 2004 03:27 PM

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