A few days ago I was riding in the car listening to the radio with the children I nanny when the song “Same Love” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis came on, at which point Ava (10) and I (22) began to talk about same sex couples and equal rights. The song sparked a really great talk. Her maturity has always impressed me but what struck me most was how subconsciously (and consciously at times) influential music is, especially to children.
Although this scenario was a positive example, it prompted me to think further about the impact of songs containing negative messages. Most mainstream music is telling Ava and the rest of the world that women are objects, bitches, or only valued for their bodies. The majority of songs we sing along with and dance to degrade women and further feed into the rape culture that we exist in. We know all this yet we still buy it, sing along to it, and dance to it. I know that this is nothing new to many of us, but it leads me to a big dilemma.
On the other hand, I LOVE so many aspects of music. I love listening to music by myself or with friends, I love dancing to music, I love R&B and hip hop, I love falling asleep to music, and perhaps what I love most is how music brings people together. I can’t control what is popular, or played in clubs, bars, and on the radio. But I still want to enjoy music in these many various settings. My inner struggle is balancing my love for music and standing up for what I believe in.
There are times in clubs or at parties when I have stepped out or sat down as my own personal boycott of a song that degrades me. But I would say that there are many more times that I have continued to sing and dance along with such music. I don’t want to pull myself out of society completely but I also don’t want to have double standards. I want to have fun, but I need to be respected. I am constantly debating with myself on where I draw the line when it comes to music.
To cope with the dilemma, I have focused more energy on seeking artists and DJs who avoid the degradation of women in their art. A few examples:
- Kelly Rowland’s “Dirty Laundry” which discusses her experience with abuse and “Kisses Down Low” which promotes female pleasure!
- Janelle Monet’s “Queen” which also has a super duper dope video.
- I love jamming to music selected and mixed by a good friend of mine, DJ Keezy. Her first mix was even made up of all female artists, titled “WHERE MY WOMEN AT” which is incredibly fun to listen/dance/sing to
There are so many more examples out there so feel free to share!
I want to hear from others who are confronted with the same or similar struggles. I am wondering, do you draw a line when it comes to music? Where do you draw that line? Have you ever thought about it before? What have you thought about it?
As my experience listening to the radio with Ava shows, the content of songs is highly influential. It is important that we think about what we are supporting and celebrating when we listen to, support, purchase, sing along with, dance to music.