Monday, March 9, 2015

Song Lyrics I Never Want to Hear My Children Singing Out Loud

Regular readers of O.H.M. know that I generally reject censorship. In my opinion, censorship is a slippery slope that leads straight to democracy's erosion, which is why I practice bluntness and don't generally try to shield my kids from the written or spoken word.

That being said, popular song lyrics have come a long way since the 1952 hit, "How Much is That Doggie in the Window?" Now when you turn on the radio, you never know what you're going to get, but you can bet it's going to be something disturbing, especially something disturbing sung by and about women and girls.

Despite my condemnation of censorship, I find myself turning down the dial on my car radio when I am shuttling my kids around, because I frankly don't want to invite a conversation about (or repetition of) lyrics like this, all of which I've heard on the radio in the past week alone:

From "Habits" by Tove Lo

I eat my dinner in my bathtub
Then I go to sex clubs
Watching freaky people gettin' it on
It doesn't make me nervous
If anything I'm restless
Yeah, I've been around and I've seen it all

I get home, I got the munchies
Binge on all my Twinkies
Throw up in the tub
Then I go to sleep
And I drank up all my money
Dazed and kinda lonely

You're gone and I gotta stay
High all the time
To keep you off my mind
High all the time
To keep you off my mind
Spend my days locked in a haze
Trying to forget you babe
I fall back down
Gotta stay high all my life
To forget I'm missing you

Pick up daddies at the playground
How I spend my day time
Loosen up the frown,
Make them feel alive
Oh, make it fast and greasy
I'm numb and way too easy ...

I'm pretty sure my kids have heard this song several times and have asked why someone would be barfing up Twinkies in a bathtub. Thankfully, they haven't yet asked about picking up daddies at a playground or drinking up all their money or staying high all the time or making quote-unquote "it" quote-unquote "fast and greasy." Because children are very literal-minded, to the extent they are even listening to these words I suspect they're imagining literally drinking money, being high up in the sky, and physically picking up dads on a playground. It's probably just nonsense to them at this point. Still, I don't want either of my kids getting any ideas about their future conduct from this song. It's bad enough to contemplate the prospect of them doing one semester of community college after knocking someone up/getting knocked up at 17. Terrifying!

From "Milkshake" by Kelis

My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard
And they're like It's better than yours,
Damn right it's better than yours,
I can teach you,
But I have to charge
I know you want it,
The thing that makes me,
What the guys go crazy for.
They lose their minds,
The way I wind,
I think its time.

Suffice it to say that I really don't want my daughter bringing ANY milkshake to any yard. Especially not a milkshake from McDonald's, because they are full of sugar and chemicals. And I definitely don't want her bringing her metaphorical milkshake and using it to summon boys to a yard. And then I especially don't want her charging a fee for Christ's sake, so that she can teach all of her peers her solid milkshake game that will make guys "lose their minds." Again, terrifying.

From "Don't Cha" by The Pussycat Dolls

Ya see this shit get hot
Everytime I come through when I step up in the spot (are you ready)
Make the place sizzle like a summertime cookout
Prowl for the best chick
Yes I'm on the lookout (let's dance)
Slow banging shorty like a belly dancer with it
Smell good, pretty skin, so gangsta with it (oh, baby)
No tricks only diamonds under my sleeve
Gimme the number
But make sure you call before you leave

I know you like me (I know you like me)
I know you do (I know you do)
That's 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 on with me (babe)

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?

Now. Aside from the serious grammatical problems with this song, it doesn't exactly send the best message. I don't want my daughter out there bragging and competing for male attention, much less by bragging about being a hot, raw, "freak." That scares the living crap out of me. I kind of want to write to the parents of all The Pussycat Dolls so I can figure out where things went off the rails here and do whatever it takes not to repeat it.

From "All About that Bass" By Meghan Trainor

Because you know I'm all about that bass,
'Bout that bass, no treble
I'm all 'bout that bass, 'bout that bass, no treble
I'm all 'bout that bass, 'bout that bass, no treble
I'm all 'bout that bass, 'bout that bass
Yeah it's pretty clear, I ain't no size two
But I can shake it, shake it like I'm supposed to do
'Cause I got that boom boom that all the boys chase
All the right junk in all the right places
I see the magazines working that Photoshop
We know that shit ain't real
Come on now, make it stop
If you got beauty beauty just raise 'em up
'Cause every inch of you is perfect
From the bottom to the top
Yeah, my momma she told me don't worry about your size
She says, boys they like a little more booty to hold at night
You know I won't be no stick-figure, silicone Barbie doll,
So, if that's what's you're into
Then go ahead and move along
I'm bringing booty back
Go ahead and tell them skinny bitches hey
No, I'm just playing I know you think you're fat,
But I'm here to tell you,
Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top
Yeah, my momma she told me don't worry about your size
She says, boys they like a little more booty to hold at night
You know I won't be no stick-figure, silicone Barbie doll ...

Paige actually loves this song and asks me to find it and play it for her, even when it's not on the radio. She tells me she wants to hear "that song about having a big butt." Obviously she gets the basic message of the song, which celebrates a positive body image, and I certainly support that. 

Still. Do I need my child contemplating having "junk in all the right places" and condemning "skinny bitches" and thinking about boys holding onto her "junk" at night? Uh, no! For fuck's sake, I do not need that.

I'm not sure what the answer is, or what it says about our culture that all of these very popular songs seem to create and celebrate a highly sexualized version of women and girls that I plan to do everything in my power from validating in my own kids' lives. 

I mean, where is the song about the nerdy girl who grows up to be a civil engineer? I want a song about how a girl aced her statistics final and celebrated by filling out a Fulbright application!

Accordingly, the next time I hear one of these songs, I'll just dust off my old 2 Live Crew tapes and load 'em up. 

That should help matters. Right?

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