OR WHY “HOTLING BLING” BLOWS
I swear I am not a prude. I was as haughtily amused and annoyed as any teenager in the ’80’s when Tipper Gore complained about explicit music lyrics. I used to like to say at the time, and it was true, that I’d no idea what Sheena Easton’s “Sugar Walls” was about until Tipper quoted the lyrics for me. Good God, she was singing about vaginas! Okay, now I’m embarrassed.
Fast forward a few decades and now, with a young daughter of my own, I am increasingly irritated, not by the language, but by the message being sent to her in today’s music. There was this horrible song last year that was playing every time I turned the radio on, “Hey Mama” by David Guetta and Nicki Minaj with such empowering lyrics as:
Yes, I do the cooking
Yes, I do the cleaning
Yes, I keep the nana real sweet for your eating
Yes, you be the boss, yes I be respecting
Whatever that you tell me ’cause it’s game you be spitting
Are you freaking kidding me? A song, very catchy by the way, explaining a woman’s role as basically a House-Elf and then, the lyrics continue with the woman in the song also promising to be available for sex at a moment’s notice, ‘cause you know, after cooking and cleaning all day, what a woman really wants is sex:
Yes, I be your woman
Yes, I be your baby
Yes, I be whatever that you tell me when you ready
Yes, I be your girl, forever your lady
You ain’t never gotta worry, I’m down for you baby
The song has a happy, club vibe; I can see its appeal, but do we really want to be telling today’s young women that all they need to do is keep the house clean and their vaginas fresh? That’s so 1950’s.
The song currently making smoke erupt from my feminist ears is “Hotline Bling” by Drake.
“You used to call me on my cellphone,
late night when you need my love.”
Okay, his girl is a Booty Call, nothing wrong with that among equal partners in an honest relationship who are on the same page, but, then he spends the entire song complaining that the girl is not sitting home waiting for him while he is out running the streets.
Apparently, the man “leaves the city,” and I am going to go out on a limb here and say that it wasn’t to enter the priesthood, and yet, he is upset that his Booty Call has decided to have a life of her own and go out with girlfriends, and gasp (!) even date other men!
Ever since I left the city you
Got a reputation for yourself now
Everybody knows and I feel left out
Girl you got me down, you got me stressed out
Cause ever since I left the city, you
Started wearing less and goin’ out more
Glasses of champagne out on the dance floor
Hangin’ with some girls I’ve never seen before
Dude is stressed out ‘cause his former “girlfriend” is wearing a short skirt, drinking champagne and clubbing with girlfriends. Why? Because she is supposed to be sitting home in her pj’s, crying into her bowl of dinner cereal, waiting for him to show up.
That pisses me off.
He goes on to say:
You don’t need no one else
You don’t need nobody else, no
Why you never alone
Why you always touching road
Used to always stay at home, be a good girl You was in the zone
You should just be yourself, Right now, you’re someone else
Yep, that’s right Little Lady, you need to stay home and be a “good girl,” maybe even a House-Elf like Nicki Minaj. You should just “be yourself,” which is apparently a lonely person with no self-esteem who can’t have a life outside of waiting for an old boyfriend to drop by when he’s looking for easy sex without commitment. You are supposed to be faithful to a non-relationship for his sexual gratification and convenience.
Well, f#ck you, Drake.
So now, listening to the radio on the way to school every morning, I have to say to my daughter, “yes, it’s a catchy little tune, but the message sucks. You are not supposed to aspire to be a man’s servant and sex toy.” And yes, I say this to my tween daughter. Because if I don’t give her that message, this garbage will give her another one.
I am also afraid for other girls whose parents aren’t listening to the lyrics. Moms and Dads who aren’t countering the sexist, misogynistic messages in today’s music that their young daughters are listening to. So, I urge today’s parents-of-daughters to listen to music with their girls. Make sure the message is an empowering one that increases their self-esteem and does not devalue their self-worth, and if the song doesn’t do that, talk about it.