Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Question: Why do women (and men) enjoy and support denigrating lyrics in music? (long-ish)

As a musician and artist, I am always mindful of my musical efforts.  I search to find songs that express many things and offer a variety of story-lines and emotional content.  Some of it my own composition and writing, some from other sources.  It is a part of my own thoughts which reflect my upbringing and moral values.  I am a Christian.

I enjoy so many kinds of musical art for its musical content and production, the vast amount of great talent is constantly amazing to me.  I hear things that sprang forward from basements, family rooms, garages, and home studios.  And I hear other efforts that run the gamut all the way to major productions that I know takes a HUGE budget to accomplish.  Honestly, my appreciation runs the full range, but I almost always prefer the lesser budgeted musical efforts.

There's a rawness there that while is complete and beautiful, is kept from being polished to a high gloss / 'no imperfections' finish.  That seems too unrealistic to me.  And I find the attraction to beautiful music, real human kindness and loving sentiment, as well as haunting stories and even a murder ballad here and there.

That said, I am really amazed by the lack of 'love songs' in popular music.  Why are there almost no loving, respectful songs in music, especially popular/mainstream music?  Seriously, I'd like to know.

I've been thinking about this for some time now, and I am shocked at the vast amount of denigrating, insulting, abusive lyrics in mainstream music.  OK, go ahead and call me a curmudgeon, fogey, grandfather, what have you, I don't really care what you think of me... that's not the point here.

Here's one point: Where are all the love songs?
Music has had a long standing reputation of being a 'cupid's arrow' of sorts.

Songwriters and singers, musicians, and purveyors of same, have shared love notes through music as far back as the dawn of time (well, maybe - work with me here).

Back in the days before women had the right to vote, songs were sang in tribute, loving affection, and beckoning to the ladies to consider a ride on a bicycle, a carriage, a swing.  Invited to go on a picnic, to dance, out for dinner, and then almost pleading for their hand in marriage and to help make a baby and a family.  And even when the courtship parted ways, there were songs about how the man was not whole enough to continue, and couldn't unless she returned to him.  You know, loving courtship, romance, joyful tribute.

And while we are not old enough to know if there was ever a time -like the present- where women were sang about as sex toys, my guess is it never happened.  Not only sex toys, but talked down to as enslaved objects of sexual pleasure and only good enough for procreation of some self-appointed slave master/commander of a stable of concubines.  But I venture a guess to say it wasn't there.  It is now though.

Point #2:
Why is it that songs of violent actions toward anyone including law enforcement, gender, age, parts of the country, ethnicity, income or lack of income, are popular?  I don't mean popular at the local gathering of like-mindedness or regional watering holes... I mean national and international popularity!  Why? 

In order for something to be that popular and make that kind of money, somebody (LOTS of somebody's) has to like it enough to take their money and buy the product, attend live concerts, go to award shows, and have the music playing in homes, cars, personal audio devices, etc.  And the vast majority of these 'consumers/customers/victims/partners in crime' share this popular material with friends and neighbors.  Sometimes unwilling neighbors get assaulted with that so-called 'art'.

Point #3:  How is it women, especially young women, enjoy this?
OK. I know almost everyone doesn't enjoy or understand or tolerate what I try to do musically... no worries about an inflated ego here.  But one thing I do not do is intentionally insult women with my lyrics and music.  I do NOT.  But I know I am not popular, not everyone's 'cup of tea', I get it.  And I sometimes wonder why the people that actually like my musical effort, do say they like it and buy my recordings and come to my concerts.  I am THRILLED they are there!  Thank you all!

But (serious run-on sentence alert), how is it that after decades and centuries of toil and pain, abuse, second rated-ness, fighting (sometimes to the death) for the right to vote, work outside the home, be independent, be assured the ability to make choices to have a career/mother, or a single woman with a career/no mother, and make an equal wage and equal respect as their male counterparts (whew), that women support and enjoy these denigrating and insulting songs and attitudes?

I cannot fathom this.  I have zero ability to understand how these offenders of the human spirit - albeit through musical 'art' - not only continue this abuse to women and others, but do so while making mountains of money from these same victims.  These victims willingly give their money, time, and long lustful looks to these abusers, and actually are seen on videos and live stages being sex-toys/objects/slaves in support of these abusers.  Why?

Point #4:  How is it young men think this is ok?
Not only OK, but it is a goal to reach.  It is a right of passage, a level of dominance, another way to make oneself feel bigger, more important and more powerful than the lesser gender.  Than their own gender.  Than their own kind.  Than their own families and siblings.  Why do these males feel the need to abuse, feel superior, neglect women's rights, and really not respect or truly love women?

Point #5:  How did it get this way?
Is it mass media?  Is that the way it is supposed to be?  Do none of these people love their mothers?  Do they not understand that their mothers were once girls and young women, that young women will hopefully grow up to be mothers, or adult women desiring respect and dignity?

Are these young women thinking enough about their own self-worth long and serious enough to see the damage they're causing to themselves, to their own gender, families, and the insulting damage they're causing to the plight of all women?  Especially the reversing damage to those women who came before and fought for, earned, and gave them the freedoms and opportunities they are taking for granted... today?

I hope this can be stopped, and now.

Last point:  Young people - especially women, respect yourselves.
No one will respect you if you don't respect yourself.  If you don't respect yourselves, then think about respecting your mothers and sisters, all other women who came along before you, and seek counseling... you are special (yes you) and you need to be able to love and respect yourself.  Placing yourself in the role of a victim doesn't garner you any respect from anyone, and you won't be able to respect yourself either.

Stop supporting this kind of ugly, hateful, demeaning demonstrations of ill will masked as entertainment.

I admire success when achieved with wholesome intent, respectful attitude, and true effort.  Some of our major musical artists have made missteps and were not perfect along their ways, but most - if not all - didn't intend to be offensive or derogatory or insulting to others while trying to make music.  I support music whenever I can, I buy recordings, go to concerts, follow social media, and share that musical effort wherever I can.

I also try not to be offensive in my car while driving on public streets.  I keep my music lower to protect my hearing, low enough to be able to hear emergency vehicles (and I move over), and low enough so as not to offend others.

Imagine that.


  1. Dear Fogey: I hear you and have no answers. But I suggest if you get in this mood sometimes to go watch the short documentary about Almeda Riddle who had one of those wild old lonesome out on the mountain voices for singing old ballads solo…and she tells a story about seeing a vision of her sister that sounds to me like it's the soul of all the old hymns. About 20 minutes. A beautiful tough old lady.


    1. Thanks so much, 'anonymous', I am enjoying that story! I love honest singing - especially a capella.

      Thanks for your comments too!

  2. Hello Jim - I support your comments and sometimes wonder the same thing, however I would like to point out that violence towards women has been published in song for quite a while now. Little Walter (Marion Walter Jacobs) had a fine career as a blues harmonica player and wrote such songs as Boom Boom, Out Go The Lights and Just Your Fool for example. Ironically, Marion died in a knife fight outside a bar in Chicago if memory serves. Most of his stuff was recorded in the 50's and 60's.

    I believe it's important to shine a light on some of these lyrics and point out to young impressionable people that it's not ok.

    1. Thanks Dan - Well, I agree that music has examples of what you mention, and blues songs are some of the offenders, no doubt. There are some blues artists that made it a point to talk about how 'big' the man is/was, and how 'good' he is/was to the woman, or many women, but I don't see that as anywhere close to the denigration displayed today. Matter of fact, the sheer numbers of artists that are so much worse today is staggering, and so are the female participants and fans of same. It is sickening to me, no matter when or where.

  3. The questions you ask would require a novel to discuss. The misogynist ideology is nothing new and neither is the socially threatened woman's response. A cycle of young men having children and abandoning the mother is not a new phenomenon; in predates me and I am closer to the end of my run than the beginning. The human race is basically a monkey see, monkey do animal. We lack love and respect for others and ourselves and a faith in our basic being. Clarence Darrow actually addresses all of the societal failures in his writings (excluding "twerking" of course). Sometime delve theories of Clarence Darrow. He had the opportunity to see life in its lowest form and found a rational reasoning for almost every crime a human could conjure up and/or commit. A mighty shift in the thought processes of the human mind is needed and the sooner the better. How that will be accomplished is the question. Thanks for the blog and I am "The Birds Were Singing of You" type of gal. AMP

    1. Wow Anonymous, I think I am out of my league here in this blog, first with Dan and now you. I appreciate the depth of your responses (and Dan's), and I appreciate your sharing that with me here.

      I was trying to point out that sincere love songs are missing in the mainstream music markets today, seemingly replaced by hateful lyrics toward others, especially women - who are a large part of that fact.

      Mr. Darrow is probably one of many that have attempted to reveal the sad 'status quo' or patterns of behavior which allow for the repetitive nature of that kind of living. I find it sad and realize there's not much to be done in the short-term, but I hope to see changes in that - at least in the mass media areas which seem to magnify and celebrate it.

  4. Jim - God bless you for bringing this issue to light.