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Saturday, January 22, 2022

Commentary: A beginner’s guide to women-hating-women music

Internalized misogyny in the music industry has provided us with some truly hateful bangers 

 

By ANGIE CUMMINGS — arts@theaggie.org

 

As a woman myself, I condemn any form of misogyny, internalized or otherwise, but when it comes to that one brand of impassioned music made by women which consists primarily of tearing other women down…I definitely have a weak spot. Many times I have found myself happily singing along to some of the most blatant manifestations of internalized misogyny, usually revolving around a stolen boyfriend and a general disdain for women.

Some may argue that the simple solution is to never listen to these songs again, or even stop supporting the artists who made them. But are we really going to boycott the genius that has come from Blondie’s music because of the (almost comically) rude lyrics in “Rip Her to Shreds”? The reality is that while these songs are offensive, they’re almost inevitable.

It is well known that in order for women to succeed in almost any industry, especially the music business, they often must deal with and adhere to the extreme sexism all around them. Producing music as a woman is hard enough in any genre, and we notice the internalized misogyny reaching extraordinary levels in those that are especially dominated by men. The perfect example of this is the pop-punk genre that was all too popular in the early 2000s, providing us with icons like Avril Lavigne and Paramore (led by Hayley Williams). “Misery Business” and “Girlfriend” are arguably two of the most exciting songs to sing along to, and yet they are rooted in everything progressive feminists work against.

These songs showcase the ultimate mid-2000s trope of winning over a guy simply by hating a girl, and essentially being the “cool girl” — the kind of girl who says she prefers to hang out with guys because “there’s way less drama.” Of course, pop-punk is not the only genre that caters to the misogynistic fantasy of women-hating-women. We can’t talk about women hating women without mentioning the woman at the top of headlines, who has had a very public, very drawn-out journey to accepting feminism and correcting her incredibly misogynistic past.

This is of course none other than Taylor Swift, and her honorable mention anti-woman song would have to be “You Belong With Me” (not Taylor’s version), which had young girls across the country priding themselves on wearing sneakers (nothing wrong there) and hating on those who wear short skirts (there it is). Disguised as an anthem for those who don’t fit the rigid mold of what a girl should be, this song sparked many girls’ (and I was absolutely guilty of this) hatred for anything girly and allowed us to all start the self-serving cycle of shunning girls for enjoying anything traditionally feminine.

For some, this “not like other girls” epidemic was only furthered in middle school with the discovery of the Marina and the Diamonds song “Girls” in which she opens with what had gone unsaid for so long: “Look like a girl, but I think like a guy.” This catchy song is all about hating girls and everything they think or talk about, made by another woman who has changed her ways as she has matured. Taylor and Marina, who have left their “pick-me” days behind and have opted for a much more feminist image, both share their experiences with sexism in the industry and in life through their art as well as generally speak out to use their platforms for the better — which just might make up for the damage done in so many girls’ formative years.

The truth is that the blame is not just on these individual women, since the existence of these misogynistic songs are of course due to the sense of competition between women created by the patriarchy. Basically, there’s no need to dox these artists who succumbed to the allure of putting women down in exchange for confidence, male attention and even commercial success (there is an overwhelming amount of direct advantages to hating on women) — it is just important to know what these songs are really doing and put in the effort to unlearn our own internalized misogyny. That being said, we can unlearn while still enjoying the music that taught us these flawed ideas.

 

Written by: Angie Cummings — arts@theaggie.org

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