Internalized Sexism in Country Song Form

Jaida Dreyer – Guy’s Girl

I’ll no doubt have more to say about this later, just posting it so I won’t forget.  For the moment, its existence is just making me kind of sad.  Country music isn’t exactly a bastion of progressiveness, but really.

ETA: Upon later reflection, I’ve realized there actually isn’t anything else that needs saying about this.  Except that that line about being whistled at is really, really embarrassing at best.

Rating in David Tennant “oh yes”s: 0/5

Homeland: I’ll be Watching You

I know this is really, really belated, given that the episode in question has already aired, but I think this trailer is just brilliant.  The choice of music is just exquisite: the lyrics, the way it builds.  It’s a perfect expression of the show itself, Carrie and Brody in particular, but all of it really.  I haven’t watched the season premier yet, but now I can’t wait another moment.

Rating in David Tennant “oh yes”s: 5/5

She Don’t Know She’s Beautiful

Lately when I’ve turned on the radio I keep hearing a song about a woman who doesn’t know she’s beautiful.  It’s hardly the first time, and it’s hardly just pop songs that worship the oblivious beauty.  It’s easy to see the appeal, to both men and women.  Few women, afterall, see themselves as beautiful; the idea that maybe they could be without realizing it is incredibly enticing and basically harmless.

Looking a little deeper however, and the appeal becomes more complex.  Maybe this is just me being cynical, but it seems to me that the appeal of such a woman to a man comes down to power.  In our world, physical attractiveness opens doors and counts for a lot.  People seen as attractive make more money and are more likely to get what they want, be it a job, a spouse, or a restaurant reservation.  Certain physical traits that contribute to a conventionally attractive appearance are seen as indicative of positively valued personality characteristics; for example, slenderness is seen as indicative of self-discipline, generosity, and maturity, and blondness of playfulness, good humor, and spontenaity.  Again and again, research has shown that people who are seen as beautiful are assumed to be smarter, more capable, and just better than those who are not.

This power that comes from being physically attractive is known as erotic capital (physical beauty isn’t the only characteristic that confers erotic capital: everything that contributes to a person’s sex appeal and that allows them to leverage it for gains and advantages in other areas is part of it, but physical appearance is obviously a major factor).  In many ways, erotic capital functions the same way as any other form, but it is unique in one crucial aspect: it’s highly contagious.  When a beautiful woman stands next to a less-than-beautiful man, his metaphoric stock rises.  She is assumed to be in high demand, therefore he is assumed to be rich or famous or perhaps exceptionally talented in some socially-valued arena; in other words, to possess a lot of some other form of capitol with which he has bought access to her erotic capital.  He can take advantage of that assumption, leveraging his supposed-capital toward a purpose of his choosing.  This is the meaning of the phrase “arm candy.”

Whether or not a woman is aware of her beauty has no affect on her value as a status symbol.  Her value in this regard rests on the assumptions of people who know little or nothing about her or her companion.  Where it does make a difference is in a woman’s wielding of her own erotic capital.  A woman who doesn’t know she’s beautiful doesn’t know her own power.  She is likely to undervalue herself, and thus her male companion can have the best of both worlds: he doesn’t have to worry about his “arm candy” demanding equality within the relationship, but he can still enjoy her looks and the benefits of her erotic capital.

In other words, I don’t like that song.

Bobby Untitled

There are, unsurprisingly, a lot of songs written about Bobby Sands, with varying degrees of specificity and hero-worship.  With Hunger on my mind I went looking for them, and of the ones I found, this is my favorite:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QX1zCIqWn9c

I think I like it because it’s so personal; it seems to be talking about a person, not just a symbol.  Soft and sweet.

Wild Flag

Lately they’re all I’ve been listening to.  I’ve had the tracks “Electric Band”, “Romance”, and “Future Crimes” pretty much on constant repeat.  The best way I can think to describe them is a combination of Patti Smith, The Clash, and Green Day, which is also, incidentally, how I would probably describe my dream band.  Strong, catchy melodies, smart lyrics,  dance-able but with an intimate knowledge of rocking out.  The fact that they’re all female is just icing.  So yeah, they’re amazing. Check ’em out.

Come and be my best friend, will you Rebel Girls?

I just watched the new Le Tigre tour documentary, “Who Took the Bomp” and can now say with certainty that yes, those three women really are as cool as I’d suspected, and yes, I really, really would love to hang out with them.  Pretty early on they talk about walking the line between cool and embarassing, not always being sure which side they’re on, and dude, that is where I live. They just sound so down to earth and self-aware and funny in a witty, dry way that makes me all warm and melty inside.  They remind me of the friends who’ve meant the most to me, the times when I’ve been the happiest.  Kathleen Hanna says she tries to be the role model she wanted when she was younger, and all I can say on that is mission accomplished, because she, Johanna and JD are an absolute inspiration.

“Le Tigre was about being vulnerable and openning ourselves up to failure in a beautiful way…I find myself not being afraid of failure because of what Le Tigre has taught me about being messy and how it’s beautiful.”  JD Samson