A Rant: What Makes You Beautiful?

Friday, August 24, 2012

a rant: what makes you beautiful?

I'm going to quote the lyrics of two songs I heard while driving this morning. If you will, indulge me and read them. Singing along and bopping your head are optional.


Just leave with me now. Say the word and we’ll go

I’ll be your teacher. Ill show you the ropes

You’ll see a side of love you’ve never known

I can see it going down, going down


In my head, I see you all over me

In my head, you fulfill my fantasy (my head)

You’ll be screaming no (my head)

In my head, its going down (my head)

its going down (my head)

In my head. Yeah. In my head. Oh yeah

(by Jason Derulo)




If only you saw what I can see

You'll understand why I want you so desperately

Right now I'm looking at you and I can't believe

You don't know

Oh oh

You don't know you're beautiful

Oh oh

That what makes you beautiful

(by One Direction)




Do those two snippets make anyone else FURIOUS?


Let's ignore the singer, the genre, and the music. Let's forget that both songs can easily get stuck in your head all day. The tunes are undeniably catchy--that's why they're on the radio constantly. 


The problem, for me, is the words.


The first song assumes the girl is naive and ignorant, and that the singer is going to teach her everything she needs to know, which apparently includes fulfilling his fantasy, going down, and screaming no.


Think about that for a second.


The singer is saying, right there, that he's going to make a girl scream NO. Like that's a good thing.


He's saying that her function is to fulfill his fantasy. And that "a side of love (she's) never known" mainly involves being the object of his fantasy. That song doesn't say a single thing about what *she* wants, about her needs or dreams. Just his.


And then you get to the next song, which is even newer and more unavoidable. If your kids listen to the radio, it's impossible to miss. They even play it in the mall. And the main thrust of the song is that the girl in question is lovable  because she doesn't know she's beautiful. That what makes her attractive is her insecurity and weakness. That he's totally turned on by her good looks, but what really gets him off is that she doesn't know how beautiful she is.


Sweet baby jebus, what kind of damaged waifs are our girls supposed to be, to appeal to mainstream boys? Beautiful, but can't be aware of it. Naive. Willing to learn. Willing to be the man's fantasy. And this is what we're pumping into the airwaves: the message that knowing your own value is unattractive.


Now, I'm sure that if I spent an entire day listening to the pop station, I could find hundreds of lyrics about what makes a woman attractive. And I bet the only ones that involve women being strong, independent, brave, or "wrong in all the right ways" are written by... WOMEN. And it makes me so, so angry. That our society's music is used as a weapon against the female psyche, reinforcing younger and younger that the woman's self-confidence is negligible and that if she wants to be loved, she needs to be whatever the man wants.


And I bet you can guess where I'm going with this topic. I'm not going to get into politics, but I will say that women are currently being sent a very pointed message, and I will respond at the polls. I can't be surprised that the old, rich men who make the laws would benefit by keeping women just as insecure, quiet, and objectified as possible. Let the men make the rules. Let the men decide what you need to be, what's best for you. Don't define or enjoy your own sexuality; just be the man's fantasy. And in this case, the man's fantasy is that we'll be shamed or cowed into letting them take control of our rights.


Just shut your pretty mouth. The men will show us the ropes.


Guess what, guys who want an insecure woman who knows her place?


Screw y'all. 


I'm not that kind of girl. And I'm not going to raise that kind of girl.


My next book is about a powerful woman claiming what's hers. She's willing to do whatever it takes to save her family and her country. Along the way, she falls for an equally strong man who loves her ferocity and supports her endeavors. May we all find a man like that, a man whose fantasy is a woman at the height of her powers who doesn't need anyone's permission to kick ass.

May we all be that woman.