Thursday, April 12, 2007

Want to Keep Your Man? Slut It Up!

I know you like me (I know you like me)
I know you do (I know you do)
Thats why whenever I come around
She's all over you (she's all over you)
I know you want it (I know you want it)
It's easy to see (it's easy to see)
And in the back of your mind
I know you should be home with me (babe)

[refrain:]
Don't cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me?
Don't cha wish your girlfriend was a freak like me?
Don't cha, Don't cha
Don't cha wish your girlfriend was raw like me?
Don't cha wish your girlfriend was fun like me?
Don't cha, Don't cha

-lyrics to Don’t Cha, by The Pussycat Dolls


The song Don’t Cha, by The Pussycat Dolls, has been generally received as a grrrl power anthem among women and perceived as a positive proclamation of female sexuality. I would like to contest this point and state that this song is no different from other cultural messages which oppress women by threatening that men will never like them if they are not constantly striving to fight for male attention. This song is sung by women and may sound like the message is aimed at men, but in reality, the message of this song is directed as a warning to all women with a male significant other. The message is this:

Hey ladies, your man thinks you are boring...I'm sure you're sweet, but you know the kind of girl who makes out with other girls at bars so guys think she's sexy? The "Hot" "Raw" "Fun" "Freak"? Yeah, you're about to lose your boyfriend to her. Better run out, buy a Cosmo, memorize all of their Tantric Sex positions and put on some cellulite cream, or else he's leaving your ass.


These types of cultural messages are nothing new, unfortunately, and this type of scare tactic has been used for years to keep women in line with the dominant ideology. It seems that the general thought is, “Maybe if we keep women busy thinking about men, they won’t realize they’re still really oppressed” (In much the same way that members of the black community are disillusioned by the dominant ideology, whose logic is, “Maybe if we keep black people focused on material wealth (dubs) and the gangsta lifestyle, they won’t realize they’re still oppressed”). Now that these messages are being produced and eagerly consumed by women, the grrrl power movement has degenerated into a hegemonic mess. Don’t Cha reminds me of another song with the same message, which was just presented in a more blatant way: Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s Wives and Lovers, sung by Frank Sinatra, Jack Jones, and Dionne Warwick.

Hey! Little Girl
Comb your hair, fix your makeup
Soon he will open the door
Don't think because there's a ring on your finger
You needn't try anymore

For wives should always be lovers too
Run to his arms the moment he comes home to you
I'm warning you...

Day after day
There are girls at the office
And men will always be men
Don't send him off with your hair still in curlers
You may not see him again


At least this song is honest with its “shape up or ship out, ladies” message. Don’t Cha just encourages the “liberated women wear Playboy bunny thongs” mentality. In the end, women are enthusiastically objectifying themselves in the name of sexual revolution and liberation, which ends up looking like this:



This is sexual liberation? This is what Gloria Steinem and Karlyn Kohrs Campbell and all the others were working for? A chance for women to parade around, scantily clad as objects of lust and have sex with whomever they please? Damn the patriarchy for oppressing us for so long! We'll show them! We'll have sex with random men without committment, see how those bastards handle that! Ha! No amount of subjugation will take away my right to wear a miniskirt, or let my thong hang out of my jeans, or wear a push-up bra. I'm a liberated woman; here are my breasts on parade! That's fucking feminism!

(In the decades since we got the vote, we've come a long damn way toward equality.)


On top of the oppressive message this song sends to women, it encourages all women to view other women as a threat. This song causes women to look at other women and ask themselves “Is she the one that’s going to steal my boyfriend?” This mentality keeps women from joining together in a sisterhood to combat the dominant ideology. The Pussycat Dolls cannot bear all the blame, however, as other songs with the same message come to mind, such as 20 Fingers’ Boom! I F***ed Your Boyfriend, Lesley Gore’s It’s My Party, and Ashlee Simpson’s I Didn’t Steal Your Boyfriend (he just left you for me on his own accord).

So, to wrap it up, I’ll leave you with a math equation:


Oppressive patriarchal ideals


+

Self-objectification and
Hegemonic Messages


=

Real Life Desperate Housewives and
Crappy Television

4 comments:

Matt said...

"This is what Gloria Steinem and Karlyn Kohrs Campbell and all the others were working for? A chance for women to parade around, scantily clad as objects of lust and have sex with whomever they please?"

I would argue that that is what some corporate entities want to be relayed to the masses.

There's a show imported from Japan called Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (and unlike the vast majority of the anime America imports, it's actually intelligent and well-written, and no smut either, which is why I hesitate to call it anime); in the last episode of it's second season, a leader of a refugee uprising that is being held by the Japanese government is quietly assassinated by an agent of the "American Empire", saying that what the world needed wasn't thinkers but willing consumers. I have noticed the show's writer often mentions and American or United States government and the "American Empire", which is a reference not to the nation or government, but the collective corporate interests, which seem to exercise their own agendas (not too far fetched).

Cultural Subterfuge said...

I certainly won't disagree with you. There is a large part of me that is convinced that we as a society are being groomed to be nothing more than good little worker bee consumers. If keeping women obsesssed with their looks distracts them from realizing this fact, that's what the dominant ideology will be more than happy to do.

Corey said...

Why does that 50's bitch only have one arm?

Zanmi said...

This genius! and 100% correct. There is nothing to add or argue with.

What did women fight for? All we've earned is the right to be sex objects.