Monday, July 25, 2011

feminine domesticity in popular music

Modern American popular culture cultivates dangerously unhealthy concepts of women (also men-but we'll address that separately).  On the one hand, there is the feminist repulsion of the feminine, which includes a distaste for feminine callings like wifehood and motherhood.  Oh, women still marry, but the woman's role has been completely redefined to something more like the wiser partner.  And indeed, many do delay or even eschew marriage altogether.  It is no longer considered a necessary part of a woman's life, even of a woman's sex life.  And on the other hand, there is the oversexualization of women, starting with the sexualization of girls.  This trend is so pervasive that it requires no documentation.  Seriously, I can't even read an interesting story about the writing of Catch-22 in Vanity Fair without seeing an almost naked Emma Stone on the cover.  These trends are dangerous and unhealthy for men as well as for women, and for our culture in general.      

Perhaps some of the worst offenses are in popular music.  And when we consider the world of pop music, we must include not only the words to the songs, but also matters like the images, the dress, and the dance moves.  And the impressionable brains of our youth are being flooded with this exciting yet morbid culture of sex and liberation, so called. 

And yet, it is worth pointing out that there are amazingly positive moments even in the popular music scene.  Actually, they are not really surprising as much as they are confirmation of the fact that the traditional roles of men and women are ingrained in the very fiber of humanity, and seep out from time to time even in this depraved culture, especially when the theme an artist is going for is romance.    

One example that jumped out at me when I first heard it is a line in a song by Lisa Loeb.  In her song, "When All the Stars Were Falling", about three quarters of the way through the song, this line comes up, "But I could be restful, I could be someone's home."  It's an amazing statement, because she doesn't merely say, I could make a home, or I could be at home, but in a most ingenious way, she basically identifies herself with the home.  I could be someone's home.  If you are interested in hearing the song, here it is: 

The other example I'd like to share is a song by Vienna Teng, "Harbor", which revolves around the refrain, "All I want is to be your harbor."  It captures with great art, both musically and lyrically, the theme of a woman's willingness to embody the love and safety of the home for the one she loves.  This song, in one sense, seems like a bittersweet farewell, maybe even an amicable break-up.  On the other hand, I like to see it as a beloved saying to her lover that whatever the struggle he faces in his calling, he knows he will always have one aspect of his life that is his safe harbor, namely, her.  Here is Vienna Teng performing this song.

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