Monday 23 July 2012

Lyrical Disappointment

I succumbed to trendiness and picked up a copy of Carly Rae Jepson’s Call Me Maybe from iTunes.  I enjoy the poppy tune and I liked what I thought was a song about a young woman taking charge of her sexual interest.

First off, I thought the chorus was actually “I just met you / And this is crazy / But here’s my number / So call me, baby” which is much more assertive than the actual lyric: “So call me, maybe.”  I liked the mental image of a young woman seeing a young man she liked, giving him her number and telling him to call.  It was straightforward, confident and refreshingly lacking in relationship game-playing.

Instead, the song falls more into the traditional mold of a young woman trying to find a happy medium between society’s two expectations.  She’s expected to be sexy, confident and appear available but not advertise being available.  I call it the “look him in the eye and wait for him to ask you out” approach.  And frankly, it’s not a surprise girls have so much emotional turmoil.  No matter which way they turn, they’re bumping up against society’s expectations.

Further listening to the song takes it even further from self-confidence.  From the verses, it sounds like the boy she’s interested isn’t interested in her.  She likes him and is obsessing about being with him.  We’ve all had unrequited crushes and they’ve been the subject of many songs, but it wasn’t what I was hoping for.

Personally, I think this is one area where feminism has failed young women.  They fought long and hard to get society and the courts to recognize that we had the right to say no.  But we haven’t been taught how to say yes.  And until that happens, there are going to be a lot of misunderstandings and lack of potential realized.

According to most reports, young women in university who want to hook up almost invariably get drunk first.  Logically, it makes no sense.  Alcohol makes it harder to have an orgasm and if sex is your goal, then why risk making it lousy sex?  But it removes the vulnerability of having made a choice.  The next day they can blame the alcohol and retain their “good girl” privileges.  The fact that alcohol makes it harder to protect yourself from unwanted advances and make smart decisions should tell us how important it is to remove responsibility from the equation.

Further problem, it makes things more confusing for guys who know the girl was enthusiastic the night before but the next day, they hear her saying she wouldn’t have done it if she hadn’t been drunk.  It makes the issue of consent even murkier and can play into the not-quite-dead stereotype that she says she doesn’t want to but she actually does.

It’s a mess, no question about it.  And I can’t blame young entertainers for not taking a stand.  They’re not political and social agents for change.  They’re entertainers whose job is to sell records.

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