Friday, June 7, 2013

Even peaceful John Lennon sang about violence against women, but not in the way we'd hope.

Sitting in traffic on the way in to work recently, my husband and I randomly started talking about creepy lyrics in popular songs. He brought up "Run For Your Life" by The Beatles. I have to admit I've never heard the song. I know a LOT of Beatles songs but for some reason I missed that one. The lyrics are not only creepy but talk about straight up murdering a woman if she is caught cheating on him (in this case John Lennon who wrote the song). See for yourself:

The Beatles - Run For Your Life

Well I'd rather see you dead, little girl
Than to be with another man
You better keep your head, little girl
Or I won't know where I am

You better run for your life if you can, little girl
Hide your head in the sand little girl
Catch you with another man
That's the end, little girl

Well you know that I'm a wicked guy
And I was born with a jealous mind
And I can't spend my whole life
Trying just to make you toe the line

You better run for your life if you can, little girl
Hide your head in the sand little girl
Catch you with another man
That's the end, little girl

Let this be a sermon
I mean everything I've said
Baby, I'm determined
And I'd rather see you dead

This was obviously written in a different time (1965) and the way in which we spoke about (or didn't speak about) violence against women was different. That doesn't make it right. Promoting or glorifying violence against women in any time, form or fashion is wrong. It is interesting to look back at this example (and I'm sure plenty others) from the perspective of where we are now in the movement for gender equality and ending violence against women and girls. The movement is by no means complete. There is still plenty to be done (just check out these stats and these too). However, now thanks to social media, we're able to call out sexism more publicly when we see it (Check out Hollaback's campaign to end street harassment) and get some positive results (Check out the #FBrape campaign that was a success). We at least have a more public avenue now for addressing this issue.

Like I said, there's still plenty to be done.  There's that whole Rick Ross thing where he got called out for his lyrics that bragged about drugging and having sex with an unconscious woman (that's rape dude). By the way, alcohol is the number one date rape drug and is used in about 90% of cases of rape, so "molly" is not the only thing "guys" (I refuse to refer to rapists as "men" because real men don't rape.) are using to assault women. So when women are told to keep an eye on their drink (you know, because it's our responsibility to not be raped instead of guys being taught "Yo, don't rape."), while that's good advice in some cases, we should also be educating (well everyone) on the effects of alcohol. These "guys" are twisting our desire to have a good time ("Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!" Hello?!) into an opportunity to exert their power and control over our bodies. That's right folks, rape is about power and control. Sex is just the weapon. Don't buy that bullshit that guys just can't control their sexual desires.

The discussion about violence against women in music often talks about rap or hip hop. While it's true that there are examples in this genre of women being referred to as "bitches and hoes", sexually objectified or threatened with violence, there are examples in pop music too. Have you heard the latest Train song? Basically they'd rather say their girlfriend died in some horrible way than admit that she broke up with them. See for yourself:

Train - 50 Ways to Say Goodbye

My heart is paralyzed
My head was oversized
I'll take the high road like I should
You said it's meant to be
That it's not you, it's me
You're leaving now for my own good

That's cool, but if my friends ask where you are I'm gonna say

She went down in an airplane
Fried getting suntanned
Fell in a cement mixer full of quicksand
Help me, help me, I'm no good at goodbyes!
She met a shark under water
Fell and no one caught her
I returned everything I ever bought her
Help me, help me, I'm all out of lies
And ways to say you died

She was caught in a mudslide
Eaten by a lion
Got run over by a crappy purple Scion
Help me, help me, I'm no good at goodbyes!
She dried up in the desert
Drowned in a hot tub
Danced to death at an east side night club
Help me, help me, I'm all out of lies
And ways to say you died

Why this didn't catch national attention I'm not sure, especially given that the video shows the different ways she supposedly died. They even show her head (they at least used a dummy) getting knocked off by a car and then kicked around at a soccer game. Hello?!

So, I suggest we have an open discussion about music lyrics past, present and future and what messages they're sending about men, women and violence. I'm raising two boys and I worry about the outside influences that say violence against women is cool and just something "guys" do (you know, "boys will be boys"...barf) being louder than their Momma's voice telling them to be good men (Check out The Good Men Project for inspiration). I know that means I'll have to be ever more and vigilant about addressing things when they come up. I can't hide or protect them from all the negative media that comes their way, but I can talk with them about what it means. We LOVE music in our house which so there will be lots of opportunities for discussion I'm sure.

Jackson, my oldest who just turned 4, is already used to me "explaining" things to him. Just yesterday I told him not to put his loud duck toy right up to my ear and play the quack quack sound. He got all huffy and puffy and ran to his room. On his way there I asked him if he wanted me to explain to him why I asked him not to do that. He came running back in the living room all excited saying "Yes, please explain why." I was soo happy to have him react this way. That was the first time I had seen my efforts to explain things to him actually work. And once I told him how ears worked he understood and was happy again. He even showed me how he could hold it further away and play the funny noise for Momma without hurting her ears. Score one for Momma!

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