headphonegrrl plugged in: Girl Crush

I’ve written this post a few different ways but was never really comfortable with it… Until a dear friend of mine brought up how her daughter was internalizing messages about females from popular songs. Her daughter said that in the song, the singer was saying how much she needed her love interest. My friend immediately corrected her and told her that she and her husband wanted their union but they most certainly did not need each other. Given that, below is the version of the post I like the most.

What is it about music that makes it have such a power over us? We can feel betrayed, angry, vindicated, stronger, and changed in a span of four minutes. Or maybe elated and inspired to tears. Perhaps even feel immense love simply by the power of song. But why?

In my humble opinion, I think it’s because it’s part of who we are at our very core. I see music not only as a gift but as a part of us that has always been. It’s like an itty bitty part of the universe tucked inside our DNA that blossoms when it’s exposed to humans feeling great emotion, and music is its way of showing itself through our natural born talents.

This is why I see music as something sacred,

my personal sanctuary.

So I can’t help but feel that it’s being tarnished when a song like Girl Crush comes out. Since I’m an active member of the lyric police I found out fairly quickly that I didn’t like the message of this song. But what really irks me is that I love the composition and melody! I can’t help but sing along.

However, I vividly remember not that long ago that I also really liked what the Weeknd was producing. Partly because of the musical genius behind it, but mostly because it reinforced my preferred method of self-medicating to compensate for the shitty life situation I was in. Well, some of it. He’s into some pretty heavy stuff…

Artists have a power because of the impact their music can have on people. The downside to this is that a song can reinforce an internal insecurity of a person and ultimately perpetuate it. So along those lines, let’s examine this song, shall we?

GIRL CRUSH

I got a girl crush
Hate to admit it but,
I got a hard rush
It’s slowing down
I got it real bad
Want everything she has
That smile and that midnight laugh
She’s giving you now

The song’s instrumental is solid and draws you in nicely. The melody is simple, appropriately somber, and the vocals are crisp and stripped down. All that, for me, makes for the beginnings of a good song. And the first few lyrics aren’t bad. I initially thought it might be a song about a lesbian outing herself and was about to give HUGE props to the country music world, but that didn’t last long…

I want to taste her lips
Yeah, ’cause they taste like you
I want to drown myself
In a bottle of her perfume
I want her long blonde hair
I want her magic touch
Yeah, ’cause maybe then
You’d want me just as much
I got a girl crush
I got a girl crush
 

Anyone else a little disturbed? Just a bit uncomfortable? Songs about jealousy are nothing new and to be expected. Love, hate, jealously, happiness, feelings of all kind are sung about. Even insanity! But this song is the type of insane that makes you wonder if you should call for help for this poor, twisted girl. Drown herself in her perfume?

…it’s a bit much.

This isn’t jealousy, it’s obsessive insanity.

We’ve seen how that story ends. We really don’t need songs about it. Unfortunately, it’s not done yet…

I don’t get no sleep
I don’t get no peace
Thinking about her
Under your bed sheets
The way that she’s whispering
The way that she’s pulling you in
Lord knows I’ve tried,
I can’t get her off my mind

Besides the fact that it’s jealously to the degree of insanity for one girl to think this way about her ex’s current girlfriend, it’s also just plain sad. I pity this girl. She clearly has no self-esteem if she’s pinning over her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend and totally straight. She wants to be like the new girlfriend so badly that it’s keeping her up at nights. All so the dude who dumped her will want her again.

Dear goodness that’s pathetic!

What an awful place to be in. This song is depressing. And I feel it’s a violation of the blessing that is music because I don’t think we should be putting this out there as something we need to reinforce. This is the type of crazy shit you write in private, on paper , which you intend to burn immediately after you’re done writing it. Then you pick yourself up and keep moving on.

This song is the exact opposite of self-love.

Country music has enough issues when it comes to women. The last thing female country fans need is more songs about wishing they were something else. I was really happy when Girl In A Country Song came out.

We need more songs like that.

Look, I’m not against looking damn hot and feeling myself in doing so. We can’t and shouldn’t completely irradiate all lyrics relating to physical beauty. We are physical beings after all! However, I don’t think the degree of saturation our songs have containing that superficial image is an accurate representation of women today. Nor is the crazy, jealous type. That’s few and far between and has no business being so representative as to take up an entire song and a damn good melody.

Why musics gods, WHY?!

I’m not against expression of feelings, or even concentrating on jealousy. Every emotion can be and should be expressed in the way one sees most fit for oneself. I even support the crazy in Girl Crush, I only wish they’d taken it full circle and had some self-love in the bridge and an altered chorus to end on a more positive note. Or how about just a song about jealousy that isn’t so damn self-loathing. For example:

If you’re still with me, dear reader, I love you. This could have very well droned on about how the image of women in media and society is damaged enough but I shall not (but if you feel the need please do rant in the comments section, rant on to your hearts content). I trust you get the picture.

So what do we do?

I know there are artists out there who consistently push out positive messages in every song they produce. We can only support those we believe in in the hopes that their songs will be blasted louder than all the rest. So turn up the volume and tune out the haters and

SING ON!

I am a Humanist

A bit ago I watched the Oscars at a co-worker’s house with her and 7 of her friends, all women. Her husband hid in the computer room while we praised NPH and all his awesomeness. Patricia Arquette accepted the award for Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role and said in her speech

“It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”

And the whole party exploded. I’m not a “whoo” girl

but I was certainly in a room full of them and it got loud. And rightly so! However, a bit later, John Legend and Common accepted an award for an original song, which was for the movie Selma. They pointed out that the injustice artfully demonstrated in the movie is not exclusive in cinematic form, it’s still being done today, especially towards the black man. As one could imagine, the room was pretty silent. Well, at least in the sense that there was an absence of “whoos.” These are just two examples of the various social and political issues brought up during the show, all of which had varying reactions and that struck a chord with me. It reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend…

A few years back, a friend and I were reflecting upon social issues and injustices over a glass of wine and listening to our favorite records. You know, typical Friday night shenanigans. At some point my friend described a situation where it was awkwardly clear that he was being treated differently in the workplace due to his race. I chimed in that, although I couldn’t relate specifically, I did have a similar instances of being judged by my looks and gender, and gave a few examples of my own experiences at work. Which were ample! At the time, I worked for the biggest accounting firm in the world (read: company run by old white men). His response was heartbreaking:

“Yeah, but you’re white.”

With just four words he belittled every very real experience I had being treated less than due to my gender. To put it into perspective, he admittedly had a problem with treating women right. I attempted to explain to him that although I am white, I am still female and my struggle is just as real (albeit different) as the next person who’s judged on their appearance. He wasn’t having any of it, he couldn’t look past my pale skin.

My first reaction was to start going back in history to demonstrate how women have had it harder for a vastly longer amount of time. Not only to highlight examples in the past as far as we can imagine, but to point out that the deplorable treatment of women today hasn’t changed. I could have given him the same response, “Yeah, and you’re male,”

but I didn’t and I won’t.

Because what would result would be the most pitiful pissing contest ever and only further drive the wedge he’d placed between us. What I realized was that (in a way) it’s all the same. People being treated poorly, no matter what superficial identifier you assign them, are still people, humans, being treated poorly.

I figured out I was upset not because I had it worse over all and he didn’t want to admit it. Rather, I was upset because we had missed an opportunity to become closer because of outsiders. He’s right! I can’t understand what it’s like being a black guy in today’s world. At the same time, however, he doesn’t know what it’s like to be female in today’s world.

By discounting the issues of others because they don’t directly relate to one’s own, we’re perpetuating the injustice we received in the first place.

When people come together, miracles can happen. The best example I know is in music and collaboration. When two artists from different genres work together, something better than either of them could have made alone is created. I experienced this with the guy I previously mentioned. He had made a beat he’d intended for an R&B song but wasn’t happy with what he wrote so he let me have it to see if I could come up with anything

and I blew his freaking mind.

Not because I’m an amazing lyricist and vocalist. I’m quite average, in fact. He just never would have thought to do what I did with it. I vividly remember his shock upon first hearing it: This is dope, I believe we’re his first words.

Nothing came of that recording but for a moment we were both inspired and it was because we came together with a common goal and used our respective talents to do so.

Muscle Shoals is an example of successful and very talented musicians coming together and making something that would change music forever. It’s the birthplace of Fame Studios and some of the greatest music hits of all time. I’m not exaggerating. Check out the list of what it birthed. And that’s not the amazing part! This was during a time of strict segregation and the studio is the Deep South. You could see cotton fields just outside the studio. But inside, everything was different. White and black disappeared and all that remained was the music and look what happened.

You just worked together. You never thought about who was white, who was black. You thought about the common thing and it was the music. Music played a big part in changing the thoughts about the people especially in the south about race. By us being in Muscle Shoals and putting music together, I think it went a long ways to help people understand that we all were just humans. – Clarence Carter, Muscle Shoals

Obviously I’m partial to music but there are ample examples. A movie called PRIDE demonstrates the coming together of two VERY unlikely groups (miners and a gay and lesbian group) who bond over a common injustice and both come out better together. I’m sure you, dear reader, can think of more examples as well. Feel free to share : )

Ultimately, I see it as a choice to respond with love instead of hate. Part of loving another is trying to understand where they are coming from.

In Zulu, when you see someone and want to say hello, you say Sawu Bona, which means “I/We see you.” The response is Sickhona, which means “I am here.” They’re not just confirming that they comprehend the other persons words but that they see them wholly as a person. The response indicates their recognition of the other person, which is what validates their existence. They’re validating their truth and that’s love. We need more of that. It’s lacking today because the ego is far more present. It tells us that validating someone else’s truth cheapens our own, but, as with all things egotistical,

it’s a lie.

Validating the humanness of another validates one’s own humanness as well. We all hurt, we all struggle, it might come in forms but in the end it’s all the same pain. The very least we can do for each other is try to see the commonality in our respective struggles and make something good come from it instead of furthering the initial hurt that was done.

The very least we can do for each other is not invalidate another’s truth because their skin doesn’t match yours.

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