by Noelle Ihli
I’m not even getting into “Blurred Lines” here. We all know it’s gross. And rapey.
These songs are the “Christmas Shoes” of feminism. So saccharine sweet. So catchy. And just earnest enough that you KNOW the songwriters were like, “Women are going to eat this shit UP.”
It’s that special seasoning of benevolent patriarchy, lovingly blended with the yeast of gender roles that made these songs rise to the tops of the charts (that’s the worst and best metaphor I have EVER made. You’re welcome).
Without further ado, here they are. (There’s a lot of country songs on this list, but I’m not just biased: Country songs are one of the worst genres for gender essentialism and the objectification of women.)
Grab a bucket, folks.
1. It’s Different for Girls (Dierks Bentley)
“When the going gets tough, yeah, the guys they can just act tough/
It’s different for girls when their hearts get broke/
They can’t tape it back together with a whiskey and Coke/
They don’t take someone home and act like it’s nothing/
They can’t just switch it off every time they feel something.”
Right. The old, “men are just big dum-dums when it comes to emotions and love, but women are inherently sensitive and sweet” rigamarole.
Tough. So tough. CAN WE PLEASE STOP INSISTING THAT EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE IS GENDERED.
2. Daughters (John Mayer)
“On behalf of every man/
Looking out for every girl/
You are the God and weight of her world.
So fathers, be good to your daughters/
Daughters will love like you do/
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers/
So mothers be good to your daughters too.”
You are the GOD and the WEIGHT of her world?
Sometimes, when this song comes on the radio in my car, I wait for that line just to feel the catharsis of yelling “NO.” What is John Mayer even saying here? Everyone be nice to the ladies because they’re gonna have babies someday?
I’m dissociating a little. Next:
3. God Made Girls (RaeLynn)
“Somebody’s gotta wear a pretty skirt,
Somebody’s gotta be the one to flirt,
Somebody gotta wanna hold his hand so God made girls …
Somebody’s gotta be the one to cry
Somebody’s gotta let him drive, give him a reason
To hold that door so God made girls”
Thank GOODNESS an omniscient being made someone to wear pretty skirts and cry and let men drive. It just makes sense. And a big thanks to RaeLynn, for really laying out what women are good at here: Wearing skirts. Flirting. Holding hands. Crying. Sitting in the passenger seat. Walking through doors. DYNAMITE.
4. Cheerleader (Omi)
“She is always in my corner
Right there when I want her
All these other girls are tempting
But I’m empty when you’re gone
And they say
Do you need me
Do you think I’m pretty
Do I make you feel like cheating.
And I’m like no, not really ’cause
Oh I think that I found myself a cheerleader.”
Always right there where he wants her in that corner, on the sidelines. And he doesn’t really feel like cheating on her with those luscious, pretty, tempting girls that want him so GD bad they can’t help but pester him about it all the GD time.
We all know you’re the star of this show, Omi.
5. Honey, I’m Good (Andy Grammer)
“These long, long legs are damn near everywhere
Hold up now. You look good, I will not lie,
But if you ask where I’m staying tonight, I gotta be like,
Oh baby, nah baby. You got me all wrong, baby …
I could have another but I probably should not
I got somebody at home and if I stay I might not leave alone.”
Another self-congratulatory, “I’m such a badass because I’m not cheating on my significant other even though I’m SUPER tempted, baby, damn look at all those long legs, and if I have another drink things are gonna go downhill FAST” song. Also, where IS he, surrounded by those long, long legs, so often that he feels the need to write a whole song about it? Why is baby at home every time? Whatever the details, it’s super romantic. Super inspiring. SUPER catchy.
6. I’ll Name the Dogs (Blake Shelton)
“You find the spot and I’ll find the money
You be the pretty and I’ll be the funny
You plant the flowers, I’ll plant the kisses
Baby, let’s get right down to business…
You name the babies, and I’ll name the dogs.”
You sit there and look pretty, baby. And maybe plant some petunias? I’ll earn a living and have a personality and be the aggressor in any kind of physical affection. But babies? Oh my god. NO. You deal with that shit. I’ll deal with the dogs.
7. Blame it on the Alcohol (Jamie Foxx)
“I hear you saying what ya won’t do
But you know we probably goin’ do
What you been feigning deep inside”
It’s the classic “girls say no when they really mean yes” trope that’s the basis for stalking and rape and catcalls everywhere. And underneath all of it is the assumption that women are, by nature, coy and indecisive and afraid to express the full extent of their desire for fear of being labeled a “bad girl,” so you’ll do them a favor and take that “no” with a wink-wink “I’m gonna do that thing anyway, since I know you’re just playing games, and alcohol is a convenient excuse for effing up if you’re actually serious.”
8. Before He Cheats (Carrie Underwood)
“I dug my key into the side
Of his pretty little souped-up four-wheel drive
Carved my name into his leather seats.
I took a Louisville slugger to both headlights
I slashed a hole in all four tires
Maybe next time he’ll think before he cheats.”
There’s an entire subset of popular music that revolves around “ladies doing bonkers things because their man cheated.” (Another personal favorite coming up next!)
And I KNOW you Carrie Underwood fans are like, “But this is EMPOWERING, she’s not gonna take that injustice sitting down!” Nope. It’s cruising straight past the trope of passive women, onto the trope of hysterical women.
She can’t even think straight with all that womanly emotion running through her veins. And she totally doesn’t give a shit about him anymore, except to spend her whole evening destroying his property and going to jail for a felony charge.
She’s probably just on her period, amirite?
9. Better Dig Two (The Band Perry)
“If the ties that bind ever do come loose
Tie them in a knot like a hangman’s noose
‘Cause I’ll go to heaven or I’ll go to hell
Before I’ll see you with someone else.”
More adorably hysterical women. She loves you SO much that she’s gonna KILL you if you ever want out. In a really sadistic, horrible way. And she doesn’t even care if she goes straight to hell for it. Add this one to your wedding playlist, ladies! Your man not loving you anymore is 100 percent worth death and damnation.
10. I’m Still a Guy (Brad Paisley)
“These days there’s dudes getting facials
Manicured, waxed and botoxed
With deep spray-on tans and creamy lotiony hands
You can’t grip a tackle-box
With all of these men lining up to get neutered
It’s hip now to be feminized
I don’t highlight my hair
I’ve still got a pair
Yeah honey, I’m still a guy.”
It totally doesn’t come across as extremely fragile and toxic that you can’t use hand lotion or get your hairy-ass back waxed without threatening your sense of identity as a man.
Not to mention, incorporating any traditionally “feminine” activity into your life is comparable to being NEUTERED? Look at you, Brad. One of the few, the proud, the GUYS.
Don’t worry—later in the song he admits that, under duress, he’ll hold her giant-ass purse and stuff. What a super trooper.
We made it to the end. Thank goodness these are the only problematic song lyrics out there.
JUST KIDDING. Which popular songs make your feminist ears bleed?