Friday, April 25, 2008

Blog #5 - Feminism and Popular Music

Stevie R. Bowling
WS 200 - Online
Blog #5


I chose the song “Can’t Hold Us Down” by Christina Aguilera featuring Lil’ Kim. The song was released on August 26, 2003 from the album Stripped. The song hit the #12 spot on the Billboard Hot 100’s and was also a top five hit in other music countdowns around the world. The song was written by Aguilera herself, with the help of Scott Storch and Matt Morris. Storch also produced the 2003 hit single.

When I first read the prompt for this blog, I began to brainstorm about songs that I knew had powerful messages about women and feminist issues. I knew of plenty, but just couldn’t pull one off the top of my head. So, I googled “feminist songs” and I was directed to a Wikipedia page that listed songs with feminist themes in alphabetical order by the song title. I have always been a fan of Aguilera and when I noticed that “Can’t Hold Us Down” was one of the songs with a feminist theme, I remembered that this song really did address women’s issues and portrayed how women are treated in a sexual way at in the music video.

The song starts out with a bang asking the public “So what am I not supposed to have an opinion? should I be quiet just because I'm a woman?”, a typical feminist issue and stereotype that is still placed on women today. So many people still believe that women should not have a voice about issues and just take things how they are. The song goes on to address the fact that women are often called inappropriate names like a “bitch” or a “whore” just because some speak about what is on their mind or how a woman is called nasty names if she is seen hanging out with a group of her male friends, but a man is looked as a “pimp” if he is seen with three or so ladies. These issues that Aguilera goes on to sing about address a lot of the gender differences that are stereotyped when it comes to the things women and men do. What I mean by this, is that still today, women are criticized if they express their opinion because according to some men, we are not suppose to have one, or the fact that when Aguilera quotes “If you look back in historyit's a common double standard of society, the guy gets all the glory the more he can score.” It is absolutely disgusting to me that some people think they have the right to call women names for standing up for what they believe in and hanging out with their friends.

Mainstream popular culture often ignores the fact that situations like these are still going on. For example, you have artists like Lil’ Kim and Aguilera that address these issues and try to make some awareness about these issues that women are faced with everyday. In their music they give advice to women about they shouldn’t let anyone hold them down and to “shout out loud and stand their ground.” Then, on the other hand, you have artists, mostly male, who are bringing women down sexually, left and right, by portraying them in their videos as sluts and whores and singing about how women are so vulnerable to men and that a man with many women is desirable. Do they not get the point? Do they not understand the fact that there is a battle over stereotypes that are placed on women and that women do not want to be portrayed that way?! I believe that although women’s rights and the stereotypes that have been placed on them have improved over the years, that mainstream popular culture is still egging on the bashing of women because the artists and movies that do those sorts of things are a big hit and top sellers, they are ignoring the message that these songs and videos are addressing!

When I first heard this song, it was very empowering. I think Aguilera and Lil’ Kim really help lead the way to women standing up for themselves and not letting anyone walk all over them and make them feel that their opinions do not count. “This is for my girls all around the world, who’ve come across a man who don't respect your worth. Thinking all women should be seen, not heard, so what do we do girls? Shout out loud!Letting them know we're gonna stand our ground, lift your hands high and wave 'em proud, take a deep breath and say it loud…never can, never will, can't hold us down!” I think those lyrics in particular really send the message that everyone has the right to be who they are and say what they feel. We as women should not feel afraid to stand up and speak out and I think that the artists did a very good job in this song, empowering all women to make a change in society and show those men that they do not have anything on us women!

If you really research songs that discuss feminist issues, you really do come across a lot. I am grateful for that and I really think they do send a positive message to the listeners out there. On the other hand, there are also so many negative songs that people hear everyday that disrespect women and totally contradict the message that some of these female writers are speaking out about. When young men and women watch these music videos that are often times very sexually aimed at women, they think that is the cool thing to do to treat women like that and for the girls that are watching that video may think that, acting in those ways is all that they are good for. I always hope that more writers will come out with songs like “Can’t Hold Us Down” to help women build up the strength to speak out, but at the same time, I know that everyday there are more and more songs produced by writers who portray women negatively and people see those too. To me, those negative songs have a little bigger lead and that can really effect how people feel about themselves and treat others of the opposite sex.

Overall, I think both Christina Aguilera and Lil’ Kim are role models for women of all ages out there. To me, they are strong women within themselves and really can influence others with their strong wills and experiences that they have had in the past. I applaud them for writing and producing songs like these and hope to see more from them in the future.

Wikipedia -
Loglar.Com -
Lyrics.Com/YouTube -


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