Girlfriend – a story about music and built-in sexism

I have exactly 13 days, 6 hours and 27 minutes of music on my computer. I know it may seem a bit old fashion at the time of Spotify and even more dematerialized playlists but I have to admit it is kind of comforting to know that I can enjoy it offline, to know that it is here. For that matter, it was even more comforting before, when it was available shaped as cartons full of burned CDs. Heh, no, it was mostly dusty and not really practical. You don’t take with you 15 kilos of CDs, plus the Hi Fi, every time you’re moving out and in, right?


Anyhow, I never really did inventory in all this music I am keeping since my early teenage years, which were coinciding with the rising of peer-to-peer sharing and illegal downloads. I know there is probably a lot of this music that would not really meet my interest anymore if I would discover it today, since my ears became more educated and that I cannot accept anymore the same bullshit than before. This music that I can now admit as being shameful, I keep it though and it is sometimes ripping off my skull when, in shuffle mode, it is coming in between a Doom metal track and traditional cape-verdean song (my last obsession).

These songs, I am keeping them more for their power of evocating memories than for their sometimes quite mediocre objective artistic quality. To keep remembering these nights, as a teen, spent talking and giggling for hours with my cousins. For this summer in the Lozerian countryside with this friend I have lost contact with since. My Erasmus party time, these crazy ends of night that I spent yelling lyrics in Hungarian that I barely understood. For this song that I couldn’t listen anymore for such a long time because we used to listen to it together, then it was over and overhearing it was not only ripping my ears off but my heart too. There was a lot of songs I had to put aside for this reason. A bit too much but getting rid of them was strictly impossible. So I still listen to them, first without choosing it, then after by choosing it and then, one day, it is over.

Then there is the ones that are shameful but for other reasons than their objective quality, about which everybody has her or his own idea. The ones that remind me these life periods when, with our life experience and openness not at their best, we had behaviors nowadays shocking the adult we became. That we are about to become. That we are part of the time. Anyhow.

This is what happened to me the other day, in the office. I am listening music in the office while working, in a kind of autistic way. Then BAM, this song that I completely forgot about came to my headphones and I got unfocused because of the rising of not exactly a nice memory. I saw myself back in my first years of college, partying with my group of friends, quite drunk, standing up with other female friends when this song was coming then break my voice on it, while dancing on a more clumsy than sexy way. I think we were doing it because it was always surprising the guys and that we were probably hoping they would like it too.

But let’s talk about the lyrics. They are… how to put it nicely? Insulting? From a woman point of view for sure. Even more from a feminist point of view. It is saying « whore » two times per sentence, talks about « putting my finger into your pussy », « suck my dick for free », « make jump your big fat ass », about sending away without any regards the girl you brought to your place the night before because « no way there is joy for bitches ».

(Allow me a particular cultural vocabulary point here: « bitch » is the most accurate word I can think of in order to translate « salope » from French but it is far from being offensive enough. I mean, calling somebody « salope » is really really rude)

« Walk straight, don’t talk, swallow and bark » (yeah)

(Now that you know what this is about, I will diligently let you judge the artistic quality by yourself)

Singing and dancing on this type of music, I assume we thought it was making us the « cool girl – not uptight one talking naturally about sex but still too good to let herself go like the so-called bitches of the song – good buddy but still sexy – not the boring type thinking than singing so happily this song may not be such a great idea ».

While trying to remember my back-then state of mind, necessarily more confuse than today, I wonder if I was actually aware of what I was singing about, why I felt so obligated to shout out loud the little consideration I had for my own gender by thinking this song was cool. Among the possible options, outside of peer pressure, the most obvious one is the integrated sexism, that would explain why we were so much to be sensitive about it. I remember even that we were making fun of this girls who were saying, with good reason, that this song was awful and didn’t want to have fun with it, they were « not funny ». Feminist lack of humor, isn’t it the best joke ever after all?

I keep thinking than deep down, I was conscious enough about how humiliating was this song. The problem is not that we were dancing on it but that it was written on the first place. It was like an open window over the uncensored point of view of many men when they allow themselves to say what they truly think about women. Adopting this point of view, making it mine by showing how appreciative I was about the way it was artistically expressed was an attempt to make people forget who I really was : a woman. Meaning entities about which we heard since we are born how little they worth. How annoying and stupid they are. « Crying like a girl », « running like a girl » is not what any kid wants to be told one day. Not funny. Who don’t know how to play soccer. Crying all the time. When we grow up a bit, hearing how little we worth outside of sex. How to get away from that, as it is so obvious than no one would want to be identified as a woman by choice? We cannot get rid of our body. Then you need to go the other way, adopting the dominant point of view. Showing by any way possible that you agree, than women worth nothing, than they can be treated like shit, than their ambitions are frivolous and their ideas pointless. That after all, they worth only the fun we can have about them. But hey, look at me, me here, I am not like that. Look at me, I am making fun of women myself, my own sex, my own gender, isn’t it cool? Isn’t it all we worth for?

In the meantime I discovered feminism, I made it mine with way more pleasure, I pointed many problems, many behaviors, I put back in perspective almost 23 years of life at that time. It is huge. And it felt good. I learned more about indulgence, self indulgence for a start but even more, I could see that, indeed, I was really not funny.

But for a feminist, is it really such a breaking new?

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