Wednesday, May 24, 2006

I should be careful, or people will say I'm being a little hard on The Beaver...

from Dubhe's post today (5/24/06) on misogyny in rock (as distinguished from misogyny in rap/hip-hop) :

"But most people who DO listen to classic rock don't know that AC/DC wrote a graphic song about running a woman over with a freight train and pushing another woman out of an airplane. It's called "What's Next to the Moon" and was on their 1978 album "Powerage". Did you know? I sure didn't. "

I'm no musicologist but I feel the need to point out that such subject matter is nowhere near novel. Murder ballads (more graphic and lurid even than "What's Next to the Moon") have been around since the earliest notes of Western musical tradition. "Tom Dooley", "Pretty Polly" and many many more!...The history of Western music is piled high and deep with dead bodies of both genders. (See this wikipedia entry for more info: Murder ballads are (dare I say) fun and compelling and popular because they're dramatic and emotionally charged and chilling, resulting in a musical catharsis, one could say. Anyway, they're everywhere, these creepy little tunes. Purge them and a HUGE segment of very relevant music history would be lost.

It's not like AC/DC were innovators in the field of lurid lyrics, is all I'm saying. Might as well string up the Kingston Trio, Steeleye Span, and Peter, Paul and Mary with the same rope.

Peter, Paul and Mary. Those unapologetic woman-haters. Shame on them.

And while we're at it, the entire point of AC/DC was to sing (loudly) dirty little songs stuffed to the last sixteenth-note with double entendre. It seems a little silly to call attention to their tasteless antics, especially since tasteless antics was their raison d'etre. It's like saying "gee, has anyone noticed the overt lesbian content of Cris Williamson's work?" well, duh, y'all.

Just in case my comment gets modded out at the Den:

Special to Elaina, who seemed fretful (she's a bassist - get it? fretful?) that her passion for four-on-the-floor cock rock would place her feminist cred in peril - my comment, slightly modified:

Honey - crank it to eleven and fuck 'em.

you already knew the general bent of AC/DC lyrics - of course you did; if you're a fan you sing along. That's what lyrics are there for. Don't be embarrassed just because someone caught you doing hairbrush karaoke. Seriously, it's okay. They're songs, not manifestos.

I'd also advise against the "two-sighted" strategy advocated by Amy at Feminist Reprise. That's a good way to damage one's mental health, in my opinion.

Remember, Australia's Finest also gave us "Whole Lotta Rosie". how many other songs out there are even remotely fat-positive? (for the record, I've counted four. always looking for more.)

For what it's worth, I spent my adolescence listening nearly-exclusively to so-called "women's music" and folk music. Lots of Cris Williamson, the complete oeuvre of Ferron, Margie Adam, Holly Near, etc.

and look how I turned out...

bless his little cotton socks.

It is good of him to solemnly warn that these lyrics "might be triggering" and then post reams of them, I feel. It's not as though links to transcribed lyrics and liner notes are that hard to find on the Internets...

For some reason, I find myself put in mind of this website:

Meanwhile, as Molly Ivins once said (in response to a claim by Camille Paglia, whom she's in the process of gleefully filleting, that feminists wouldn't let her enjoy her Rolling Stones, dammit):

"When some fellow feminist doesn't like my music, I have always felt free to say, in my politically correct feminist fashion, 'Fuck off.'"
well, one could always claim to be performing a detailed feminist analysis of the lyrics for very important academic socio-musicological purposes, and not actually grooving on the song.

I'll lend you my copy of "Licking The Love Pump: A Feminist Analysis of The Devil's Music", you know, as soon as it's published.

While we're waiting for that swinging book party, am I the only one who thinks of menstruation every time she hears "If You Want Blood" on her I-pod?
LMFAO, y'all.

"Whole Lotta Rosie" is probly my favorite AC/DC song. To be honest. Full of misogynistic objectification; fetishization of fat women; etc.

It's also got a fucking riff that's unbelievably addictive. And very easy to play.

But actually, I'm GLAD that Dub posted those lyrics on the site- mainly 'cause if you go to XY or Z lyrics site some horrible thing lays eggs in the 'ol puter, half the time. And it's good to see a bio-male deconstructing his fucked-up heroes.

There's a distinct difference in analyzing lyrical content for it's exclusively misogynistic qualities as opposed to the Xtian right-wing, who just says "sex is bad, mmmmmkay? so rock music is bad 'cause it talks about sex. Or rebellion. Or whatever. mmmmkay??" The xtian right also thinks that women shouldn't be able to make decisions about their own bodies, their reproductive health; they think and they state patently that we are inferior beings, that we need to shut the hell up and that we are "cursed," the originators of sin. Fuck 'em.

It's not adequate to say that radical feminist analysis, of any kind, aligns with right-wing xtianity.

Right wing, fundamental, xtianity degrades and devalues women, is pretty much white supremacist, and yeah. Those fundies really don't want anyone to have any fun.

As a radfem, I find it problematic to include as "fun" the suffering of other folks, whether it be in rock music or pornography, or what have you. The movement's a little bit more important than me getting my kicks or having the "escape routes" I'm used to, when there are those of us getting sold into brothels as children or starving and begging on the streets, or being raped and mutilated and abused everyday who DON'T have ANY escape route.

There's a difference in saying that we should analyze our creature comforts to see where our absorption in them actually HURTS other women, or makes it easier for the patriarchy to do so by our apathetic participation than, say, going to an abortion clinic and blowing it up because the evil women inside want to kill their children.

It's more important to me that women stop suffering than my actual connection or wish to "jam" I might have with a particular 3-minute rock'n'roll tune. It's kinda the same conclusion I've drawn with pornography and my own orgasm. There's bigger things in this world, more important stuff to solve. I'm already able to do the orgasm thing without the porno-trappings; to leave the trappings in place is stupid, shortsighted, and selfish as hell when I'm in a place of relative privilege that lets me put it down.

So yeah, in short (too late!) I'm not "fretful" of my RadFem cred. I got it, I spent my 6 years in the fucking wilderness, it ain't going nowhere. Where I DO tear myself up is where I see that the behaviors I have, or the things I do, work to polish the patriarchal marble. Self-scrutiny, for the sake of my sisters, is the LEAST I can do, and giving up certain indulgences, when there are others to be found that might not be so harmful, is just a little bit more substantial than that.

Anyways. I should go write on my own damn blog.
for those about to blog
we salute you!
re Rosie: fetishization or celebration?

the first time I heard it I was thrilled. about damn time someone sang about ME, I thought.

so far I know of only four fat-girl songs. I'd compile a whole cd of them if I could.

re religious right vs radfem: I think I mentioned in another comment thread that it's just luck that the two opposing philosophies have similar goals on occasion.

re fiddling while womanhood burns: for me it's hard to respond to that without sarcastically mentioning that all the handwringing hue and cry about misogynist song lyrics did me no good at all when my exhusband was beating me senseless (he wasn't a music fan anyway, and I highly doubt his fist would have been stayed in midair as his ear caught the dulcet tones of Sarah McLaughlin). Seriously, for me it's hard to judge what impact a personal sacrifice like that really has on the world at large. It reminds me of a mother looming over her child saying "Finish those lima beans! clean your plate! there are children starving in China!"

on the other hand, if you've subjected the lyrics to a searching and fearless inventory against your own personal development over the years and gone "eew. that's horrible. I'm never listening to that again because it makes me think of all the terrible things that happen to women all over the world and that makes me cry," that's another thing entirely.

re kicks, fun, guilt, etc. - I don't know what to say about that. as a non-musical person, I am exceedingly envious of people with musical talent. Letting your bass sit and gather dust in a corner while you agonize over whether to play "Ride On" in your own damn bedroom on your own damn time, or spend your precious free minutes doing some nebulous thing for some nebulous sisterhood, seems like a tremendous squandering of your precious gift.

Every movement needs its troubadors.
Elaina - I am glad you were not fretful (but sad that in your confidence my dumb little music joke doesn't work).
Well, see, there is the dovetailing of certain positions on certain issues wrt the religious right vs. radical feminism, yes (as per discussions below); but then there is also the evangelical zeal of the recently converted, which is not limited to any particular ideology and is more what I had in mind here, at least.

For the record: while yes, (again) I understand that the Religious Right and radical feminism are coming at the opposition to porn, etc. from different perspectives, I don't know that it's entirely accurate to say that it's a total coincidence, either. We're all more or less rooted in the same culture, after all, yes? I mean, isn't that part of the theory? that we're all steeped in our patriarchal heritage/culture?

My question is: why would one assume that one is (more) free from such simply because one has come down on the "anti" side? Radical feminists keep exhorting us pervs to take a good hard look at the roots of our pervy little turn-ons (or turn-offs) and lifestyle; my response is, I have done and do so; and I'm also looking at yours. It's a bit bogus imo to wax all wroth and righteous about the patriarchal nature of high heels or spanking videos or whatnot, without giving similar scrutiny to the philosophical roots of the ideology put forth by Dworkin and her fellow travelers.
...then again, sometimes I think: you know, the very notion that one must continually tear oneself apart with self-scrutiny (and particularly GUILT) in the damn first place is maybe rooted in something not so very useful.

I mean, I like my self-flagellation a bit more literal; it feels better and it has more clearly limned boundaries.
...and now I am wondering: what was everybody's religious upbringing/background (if any), here?
re christian right/radfem unholy alliance, such as may be:

The christian right position seems to be that porn is bad because women are involved in it and women are shameful and sinful vessels of evil and anything that women do/see/touch is stained and corrupted by womanhood its very self. Therefore we should work hard to rid the world of pornography.

On the other hand, many (though not all) radical feminists seem to be saying, in essence, that porn is bad because men are involved in it and men are never to be trusted because they are representatives of the most contemptible Patriarchy and anything men do/see/touch is stained and corrupted by manhood its very self. Therefore we should work very hard to rid the world of pornography.

pursuant to the topic - we should form a Malcolm Young/Angus Young/Bon Scott tribute band, and call it...

wait for it...

A-She/D-She. :)
re religious upbringing - none to speak of. not particularly atheist exactly, but somewhere in my youth the question of religious education and tradition got lost.

If I could get to meeting without a car, I'd be a Friend.
Well, and there is something about the *narrative* that feels really familiar, you know, esp. whenever i read dubhe. I once was lost, but now am found. I have grievously sinned; I deserve punishment; but I have been redeemed (if constantly in danger of sliding back into the darkness) and blessedly forgiven, even though I don't deserve it. Here is a structure; here is a Way; and here are its prophets. and now it is my duty to enlighten the rest of the world with the Truth, alternating public displays of dramatic self-abasement with fiery self-righteous diatribes aimed at the unrepentent and the backsliding.

me, I'm currently leaning toward paganism, but come from several genearations' worth of agnostics, nice secular Jewish liberal version, on both sides. We've got our own guilt narratives, Lordess knows, but it doesn't look like this. I dungeddit.
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(I suppose Spinal Tap's "Big Bottom" is RIGHT OUT, then...)
that's on my list!

talk about bumcakes, my girl's got 'em.
You'd think that all the Cris Williamson I listened to would crush any attempt at musical colonization by the Patriarchy.

no such luck.
Re:murder ballads, I read a really interesting book last year: Savage pastimes: a cultural history of violent entertainment, pointing out how today's media is much *less* violent than in the "good old days"
@ lis - dude, do people get smarter just by standing next to you? I am totally going to chase down that book which sounds fascinating.

do you know the song "Andrew Rose"?

"wasn't that such cruel usage
without a friend to interpose?
how they raped and mangled
gagged and strangled
the british seaman Andrew Rose!"

oh my little cotton socks! as far as I know that's from the 18th c., provided my information is not fraudulent. (mind you, it was easily 20 years since I've heard it...but it stuck in my head like a toothpaste commercial.)
Now that I think about it, no less a personage than the great Holly Near herself did a murder ballad - "Step It Out, Nancy", if I recall correctly. Man gets gunned down on his wedding day by Nancy, the reluctant bride.
@ lis - dude, do people get smarter just by standing next to you?

Aw, *blush*
I've just got a mind like a steel sieve - I accumulate all kinds of weird trivia, and then years later out-of-the-blue, it becomes relevant.

Or, to repeat my favorite quote:
"The creative person wants to be a know-it-all. He wants to know about all kinds of things: ancient history, nineteenth-century mathematics, current manufacturing techniques, flower arranging, and hog futures. Because he never knows when these ideas might come together to form a new idea. It may happen six minutes later or six months, or six years down the road. But he has faith that it will happen." -- Carl Ally

That's part of the reason I blog (and track the books I've read) -- as a memory jog for myself!

If you're interested in rebuttals to the anti-media-violence campaigns, I'd also recommend Gerard Jones' Killing monsters: why children need fantasy, super heroes, and make-believe violence (the author's a shrink and writes superhero comicbooks).
So I'm not bad for being a Nick Cave fan then?
shit, foibey - I can't even begin to judge someone based on musical taste. I have absolutely NONE. I'm still a backward-ass folkie.

but no, I don't think you're a bad person for enjoying the varied emotional experiences brought about by listening to music.
Of course, you forgot the greatest murder ballad of all: "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer".
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