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Life Before Feminism: “It’s a shame to whip your wife on Sunday.”

I have a certain fondness for old-timey hillbilly music, the kind of stuff you can find on any number of great compilations on Yazoo records. But sometimes, alas, the lyrics to the songs reflect some old-timey bigotries that are much less charming than the music itself. Poking around on YouTube earlier today looking for the stuff I ran across this little ditty:

The lyrics:

Well, it’s a shame to whip your wife on Sunday.

Yes, it’s a shame to whip your wife on Sunday.

When you’ve got Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday,

      Thursday, Friday, Saturday

It’s a shame to whip your wife on Sunday.

 

It’s a shame to get drunk on Sunday.

Yes, it’s a shame to get drunk on Sunday.

When you’ve got Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday,

      Thursday, Friday, Saturday

It’s a shame to get drunk on Sunday.

Pity about the lyrics, because it’s got such a nice little banjo riff.

Cleanse your ears out with this song, a perky little number called “Hallelujah to the Lamb,” that I think would leave even Satan himself tapping his cloven hooves.

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Posted on November 29, 2011, in life before feminism, misogyny, music, reactionary bullshit, that's not funny!, violence against men/women. Bookmark the permalink. 80 Comments.

  1. it is always adorable when someone uses ‘you know a lot of words’ as an insult.

  2. “lately I’ve been having a hell of a time skimming through the other thread – the one where no trolls showed up, so you all turned on each other.”

    See I’m glad you brought this up, because I’ve been meaning to go on a rant about this little unwinnable situation.

    If feminists* agree with each other, they get accused of being an echo chamber or a hive mind. If feminists disagree with each other they get accused of turning on their own and being hostile. Fuck that shit and fuck you for trying it on.

    *I’ve seen the same no-win situation forced onto atheists so it’s not exclusively a feminist thing.

  3. Actually I’d say that the fact that MRAs usually refuse to disagree with each other is far more of a flaw than lots of arguing.

  4. I’d just like to point out (as the person who quoted Robert Johnson above did) that misogyny and domestic violence are pretty strong continuing themes in a bunch of folk (including blues as part of “folk”) canons.

    But the interesting thing about the Robert Johnson song (that was me; hi) is how self-conscious it is: in attributing his desire to commit DV to demonic influence, the speaker implies that he knows that this isn’t the right way to behave.

    I find the same sort of knowing darkness in a lot of Johnson’s songs, as opposed to a song like this, which takes a much more “naive” standpoint:

    Wish I was a mole in the ground
    Wish I was a mole in the ground
    Mole in the ground, I’d root that mountain down
    Wish I was a mole in the ground

    Wish I was a lizard in the spring
    Wish I was a lizard in the spring
    A lizard in the spring, I’d hear my true love sing
    If I was a mole in the ground

    Don’t marry a railroad man
    Don’t marry a railroad man
    A railroad man gonna kill you if he can
    And drink up your blood like wine

    Baby wants a nine dollar shawl
    Baby wants a nine dollar shawl
    When I come around the hill with my twenty dollar bill
    She says honey where you been so long

    Now, baby where you been so long
    Honey where you been so long
    Said I been to Caroline to see that gal of mine
    That’s where I been so long

    I said, honey where’d you stay last night
    Baby where’d you stay last night
    Said I stayed around the bend
    With some rough and rowdy men
    And now I’m goin back again

    The third verse takes violence absolutely for granted in a way that Johnson’s “artier” song doesn’t. I know Johnson wrote a lot of the songs he sang, but I don’t know whether or not he wrote “Me and the Devil Blues.” It wouldn’t surprise me, though, since it’s so much more introspective than a lot of folk music.

  5. Actually I’d say that the fact that MRAs usually refuse to disagree with each other is far more of a flaw than lots of arguing.

    Remember when DKM and Brandon were posting in the same thread, each advocating ideal worlds that the other completely disagreed with, yet they never acknowledged each other? Yeah, that is a sign of some robust discourse right there.

  6. You don’t even see an ally when he comes up to you and all but bites you on the nose!

    Meller owes me a new cute cream cableknit, this one is covered with orange juice. “Ally?”

    News flash: domestic violence happened in whatever your ideal era was, too (some sort of magical 1950-meets-1830 type of situation?) Victims just didn’t have the same chances to speak out.

    Zhinxy, I’m so sorry you had to experience that. I applaud your bravery in mentioning it in a space where idiots are free to tell you that you either deserved it, or it didn’t happen at all.

  7. If feminists* agree with each other, they get accused of being an echo chamber or a hive mind. If feminists disagree with each other they get accused of turning on their own and being hostile. Fuck that shit and fuck you for trying it on.

    Quoted for truth.

    Note that none of our usual trolls had the stones to step in that thread.

  8. MRAL did, right before it got shut down. Total vapidity, as usual.

  9. This song is really a progressive Christian song of the 1920′s criticizing people who were willing to suspend sinning (whipping your wife, drinking, gambling, etc) on Sundays but would be “Godless” the rest of the week.

    This song is certainly not an anti-feminist song. If anything, it was even more progressive than the people knew it was. The problem with Christians and others exists today – people do not practice what they preach and this song is pure satire.

    The days before feminism… this is unfair and misrepresentation of the song.

  10. I think his mistake was that he made the video without “explaining in detail”, what the song was about. The song is about religious hypocrites, people who sin Monday-Saturday and then think that because they go to church on Sunday they are without fault.

    If you study history in particular, 1800′s-1900′s ….alcohol was very much the work of the devil, people thought, because of this alcohol was looked down upon, a sinners drink, so to have a song that has domestic violence paired with alcohol, isn’t in any way linking the two as if they were to go hand-in-hand but rather to say that whipping a wife is extremely bad.

    Basically, the song is literally calling out the man on his own hypocrisy “Why stop whipping your wife on a Sunday to hide the fact that you’re a wife-beater?, The song was meant to embarrass, and to make men feel guilty for lack of accountability”

    The other thing is there is a lot of bluegrass, blues, and folk songs that depict horrible stories,you have to understand that back in those days…..songs were a way for slaves to carry down oral history, many couldn’t read, many couldn’t write, and to record the grief of those times, it was done by word of mouth, passed down from one generation to the next.

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