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American Women and Stupid Girls: Misogynistic Lyrics as Faux Social Critique

Mick Jagger and Keith Richards: Spokesmen for Clean Living
Mick Jagger and Keith Richards: Spokesmen for Clean Living

 

Listening to the Rolling Stones’ “Mother’s Little Helper” the other day, I was struck by how much the lyrics resembled a misogynistic MRA rant. Ostensibly a song pointing out the hypocrisy of suburban squares attacking the drug culture whilst themselves popping prescription pills, the song extends its “critique” to cover such subjects as the evil of women making cakes from mixes instead of from scratch.  (See below for videos of all the songs mentioned in this post.)

So you go from this bit of, ahem, social criticism:

“Things are different today,”

I hear ev’ry mother say

Mother needs something today to calm her down

And though she’s not really ill

There’s a little yellow pill

She goes running for the shelter of her mother’s little helper

And it helps her on her way, gets her through her busy day.

To this:

“Things are different today,”

I hear ev’ry mother say

Cooking fresh food for a husband’s just a drag

So she buys an instant cake and she buys a frozen steak

And goes running for the shelter etc etc

Yep, that’s right. Mick’s as bothered by the frozen steak as he is by the dangers of tranquilizer abuse. By the end of the song, the hypothetical freezer-and-cake-mix-using mother has died of an overdose. Told you so!

Misogynistic rock songs aren’t exactly a rarity – hell, “Mother’s Little Helper” isn’t even the worst offender in the Rolling Stones’ disography.

But unlike more straightforward outbursts of misogynistic nastiness like, say, “Under My Thumb,” “Mother’s Little Helper” pretends to be something nobler: a social critique.

The blogger behind the wonderfully arch I Hate the New York Times blog pointed out to me in a tweet that a surprising number of old rock lyrics play this little trick. Taking the form of a “critique of today’s inauthentic & hedonistic society” they are in fact “directed at [a] specific shallow hussy.”

Along with Mother’s Little Helper, IHateNYT suggested I take another look at the lyrics to Paul Revere and the Raiders’ “Kicks.” And, yep, it’s basically the same thing: a critique of drug use in the form of a patronizing lecture to a young woman in search of “kicks,” starting out with this little bit of I-told-you-so, delivered with a sneer:

Girl, you thought you found the answer on that magic carpet ride last night

But when you wake up in the mornin’ the world still gets you uptight

It turns out that the song, written by the songwriting team of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, was inspired by the drug use of a male friend of theirs – though somehow in the song this specific man became a hypothetical “girl.”

And then of course there is the Guess Who’s American Woman, a sort-of critique of America’s “war machines” and “ghetto scenes” in the form of a long, sneering diatribe against a hypothetical woman:

Now woman, I said stay away

American woman, listen what I say

 

American woman, get away from me

American woman, mama let me be

Don’t come knockin’ around my door

Don’t wanna see your shadow no more

And on and on and on for a very long five minutes and nine seconds.

One of the reasons these songs sound so much like MRA rants is that MRAs like to play the same little game, dressing up their misogynistic sentiments in the form of “social critique.” Thus Paul Elam’s faux-environmentalist attack on female consumers, and all that talk about how single mothers and/or “picky women”  are going to bring about the end of civilization. Heck, some manosphere fat-gal-bashers even pretend they fat-bash out of concern for the well-being of the women they’re ridiculing.

It might be entertaining to transform some of these old woman-hating songs into critiques of woman-haters. “Stupid Girl” by the Rolling Stones might be a good place to start. I mean, seriously?

Like a lady in waiting to a virgin queen

Look at that stupid girl

She bitches ’bout things that she’s never seen

Look at that stupid girl

Those are real Rolling Stone lyrics, not a comment from NWOslave. Have at it.

Here are videos of all the songs I mention above:

 

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pecunium
8 years ago

Not me. Shaennon has done, The Book o’ Learnin’, so it’s probably not her.

But yeah, Varpoland is a strange place. I don’t want to visit; a guidebook is probably as close as I want to get; though I can put up with the occasional eruption into Manboobz.

pecunium
8 years ago

I wonder how close it lies to Mellibertopia? It’s, of course. can’t exist on the same planet as the Antzean Paradise of the Mississippi Division.

inurashii
inurashii
8 years ago

the occasional eruption into Manboobz.

ew

Shadow
Shadow
8 years ago

I’m actually chortling out loud.

And now I’M chortling out loud. That shit’s more contagious than a yawn

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

I don’t think Varpoland could share a border with either Mellertopia or Antzartica without all the nations involved being in a constant state of warfare. Which is part of the reason the MRM is such a mess – they never can agree on what they want, other than for women to be under their thumbs.

Steele
Steele
8 years ago

“Varpoland” is, in point of actual fact, the real world.

Personally and in my own opinion, I always wonder what Feminist-world must be like. Evil, disgusting straight white men everywhere, giving off Oppression Fumes wherever they walk!

hellkell
hellkell
8 years ago

Personally and in my own opinion, I always wonder what Feminist-world must be like. Evil, disgusting straight white men everywhere, giving off Oppression Fumes wherever they walk!

Actually and in fact, it’s pretty cool, except for the occasional stupid fucker like you.

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

Why did you think we were buying all those candles?

inurashii
inurashii
8 years ago

In Varpoland, you can only prove things by decreeing that they are obvious.

Presenting evidence is still useful, however, because it instantly makes you impossible to see or hear. Telling the truth and providing examples makes you invisible to Varpolanders.

Nepenthe
Nepenthe
8 years ago

Evil, disgusting straight white men everywhere, giving off Oppression Fumes wherever they walk!

This is a fairly good description of mathematics departments, ime. Especially the part about fumes, though they aren’t necessarily oppression fumes.

cloudiah
8 years ago

Can we just go back to posting videos? I don’t feel like we’ve covered enough African music. Franco (& OK Jazz) is great if you like Congolese music:

chibigodzilla
8 years ago

Varpoland must intersect with the real world in some places. Steele seems to have an emergent awareness that the feminism he is trying destroy is not the same as feminism as it actually exists, hence his usage of “M-Feminist” and “misandrist feminist.”

With a little bit of work, he’ll be able to realize that they are, in fact, straw feminists.

cloudiah
8 years ago

And a slower tempo one (translation in the comments):

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

Meanwhile I’m listening to…

hellkell
hellkell
8 years ago

I’m listening to:

cloudiah
8 years ago

I’m really enjoying everyone’s videos!

cloudiah
8 years ago

More African pop (this stuff makes me cheerful):

inurashii
inurashii
8 years ago

And now for something completely different.

pecunium
8 years ago

Torvus: Could you clear something up for me?

When you say “Personally and in my own opinion,” I’m wondering whose opinions you usually use when you express a belief as being personal?

thenatfantastic
thenatfantastic
8 years ago

Personally and in my own opinion

No person can write this terribly. Or if you’re Steelebutt, “No and none person and humans can and manage to write and type this and that terribly and ridiculously”.

I’m listening to this (no Youtube thingies unfortunately).

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

My favorite J-pop song, with subtitles for people who hate not being able to understand lyrics.

(Yeah, I know they’re often more of a rock band, but this one is definitely a pop song.)

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

@ nat

I keep trying to write like Steele and I just can’t do it. It’s like every teacher I ever had is screaming “wtf are you doing, stop it!” at the back of my mind. It’s like someone scraping their nails down a chalkboard.

cloudiah
8 years ago

This is the album (yes, I am old enough to think of things as albums!) I listened to on my walk to work today:

thenatfantastic
thenatfantastic
8 years ago

His writing is just so hilariously redundant, all the time.

*insert hilarious joke about his personality and ideas here*

Steele
Steele
8 years ago

You know – I’m going to tell the hate-soaked Boobzers – so oppressed by the evil straight white men; might as well commit straight white maleocide – I’ll tell you all to suck it. Again – my writing has suffered due to misandry. It is in no sense my own fault.

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

Maleocide! So I guess by the rules of SteeleLanguage whatever killed the dinosaurs committed paleocide?

Amused
8 years ago

@Steele:

Again – my writing has suffered due to misandry. It is in no sense my own fault.

Did you say something about taking responsibility? Like an adult? Lead by example, dude.

inurashii
inurashii
8 years ago

my writing has suffered due to misandry. It is in no sense my own fault.

I’m still a little confused about where you got this idea, hoss.

So you had, like, what? One teacher? Who picked on you because you were a boy (probably not, but let’s pretend that you’re accurately reporting for once).

And that ruined your writing forever?

Even if we believe that somehow misandry somehow — did you ever explain how? — gave you a bad experience with one teacher

that is not a plausible excuse, you whiny diaper baby.

cloudiah
8 years ago

Personally and in my opinion, one has to work to write that badly. I, in a sense, perforce and heretofore, doff my hat to you – good sir. Whereas, may a thousand jester’s fools caper for you on your daily jaunts, as you clutch a scented handkerchief to your nose to avoid being maleocided by oppressive femino-fumes.

hellkell
hellkell
8 years ago

Again – my writing has suffered due to misandry. It is in no sense my own fault.

You can suck it, and how about taking responsibility for your shit writing while you’re at it?

cloudiah
8 years ago

More pop!

Shadow
Shadow
8 years ago

I thought you’re an objectivist, pull them bootstraps boy!!

inurashii
inurashii
8 years ago

Thus and heretofore, my fellow rank-and-vile misandrist compatriadrades; I present and show to you the following resultant video from my diurnal misandric enjoyment. Here and to wit:

http://youtu.be/If5MF4wm1T8

Polliwog
8 years ago

@Polliwog – that is so cool! Do you have a favourite/favourites among the various periods or types of music? Have you recorded?

My specialty is Renaissance choral music – madrigals and motets, mostly. I almost always sing a cappella, and love it best, but one group I was in thought it’d be a fun change to do an album with added period-appropriate instrumentation, which is when I got to learn a little bit of lute, portatif, and crumhorn from the super-awesome players we worked with. (Crumhorns, for those who aren’t familiar, look kind of like a bassoon mated with a walking stick, and sound kind of like an oboe mated with a kazoo. They’re fun.) I have no actual skills at any of those instruments beyond “look, I made a noise!” but I can at least parrot what the experts taught me about them. 🙂

That instrument looks more like an oud to me. I don’t see any of the drone strings I’m used to seeing on lutes (I don’t play lutes, but I know several people who do).

I’m even less of an expert on ouds than on lutes, but the trick I learned to distinguish the two was that lutes have frets and ouds do not, and this one seems to have frets. 🙂

inurashii
inurashii
8 years ago

@Polliwog — d’you wanna link us? 🙂

cloudiah
8 years ago

Or if you don’t want to out yourself, Polliwog, can you link to something similar?

Gametime
8 years ago

Again – my writing has suffered due to misandry.

You know that even if we believed your hilariously overblown story about your awful man-hating teacher, the fact that you had a shitty teacher for one single year of your life wouldn’t explain how you are so consistently terrible, right?

Falconer
8 years ago

Personally and in my own opinion,

Because your pants won’t stay up without belt AND braces, eh?

These phrases are redundant. Use one or the other, but never both, in the same clause.

Falconer
8 years ago

Once more and again, I am late to the party and tardy to class.

Polliwog
8 years ago

I’m not up for deciding if I want to out myself today, so I’ll just link you to some musical gods of mine doing the sort of thing I do. Here they are clearly being deeply misandric, by Steele’s definition: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7W0G1c8fJ0

Also, if the bizarreness that is the crumhorn is what you’re looking for, I can’t find any good examples of them accompanying madrigals offhand, but this gives you a decent idea how goofy they look and sound: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFWk1_XnT68 (skip to about 0:35, when they actually start playing).

pecunium
8 years ago

The major distinction I know of between Lutes (and pretty much every other plucked instrument is the presence of drone strings).

And it seems I have conflated a subtype of the Lute Family with all lutes. I am thinking of the Theorbo. Although there are a lot of lutes which have unplucked courses; which are less obvious than the Theorbos unpluckable ones.

So it’s probably a lute.

inurashii
inurashii
8 years ago

Oh my goodness Polliwog I’d heard the King’s Singers before but I’d never seen their faces while they sing before XD XD XD

Here’s a random paused frame.

Since my identity is rather unabashedly tied up with this handle, I will out myself as a gigantic nerd too. Here’s a link to me singing the beginning of Canterbury Tales to the tune of “For the Longest Time.”

pecunium
8 years ago

Mikey Butthorn: It is in no sense my own fault.

Cry of the MRA.

Again – my writing has suffered due to misandry. It is in no sense my own fault.

After all, there aren’t any other teachers in the world. There are no books to read; and emulate. No online texts.

Dude… I don’t normally commend them, because for someone who has a basic grasp of how to write they suck, but really; you could benefit from reading Strunk and White (you will like them, they are Dead White Men).

To say that being shitty at something which needs no effort but the personal to improve is some serious bullshit.

You can’t write, and you don’t care. Got it. But dude, it’s on you. Because guess what, when I was younger, I was a shitty writer too.

I worked at it. I had teachers who told me I wasn’t good at it (even female teachers). What did I do? I worked at it. When I disagreed I ignored them.

I am not good at Academic Papers. I don’t organise things that way. Guess what? I still manage to make myself understood. It means I tend to get Bs in English classes; purely on structural grounds (though I did well in my Philosophy classes, and in Logic).

Why? Because, formatting aside, my thoughts were clear, my ideas cogent and my arguments supported.

You… you refuse to do that. You refuse to provide evidence, merely asserting it’s “copius” and “everyone knows”. That’s bullshit. It’s lazy, weak-assed crap.

Imagine the scene:

INTERIOR ROOM: OBVIOUSLY A BANK, LIGHT SPILLS IN FROM THE WALL OF WINDOWS, FACING ON A BUSY URBAN STREET:

A young, up and coming member of the Entrepreneurial Class is pursiing a loan. He has a brilliant plan for a business.

The Loan Officer asks for some support for the practicality of the business model: “I’m not going to do your work for you. If you look you will see the demand is huge”.

CUT TO EXTERIOR OF THE BANK, WITH A VIEW INTO THE OFFICE. AS THE YOUNG MAN WALKS AWAY; A SPRING IN HIS STEP FROM THE SUCCESSFUL SESSION, WHERE HE CLOSED THE DEAL WITH HIS BRILLIANT RIPOSTE TO THE LOAN OFFICER’S POINTLESS QUESTION, THE LOAN OFFICER TAKES OUT A STAMP IN BRIGHT RED LETTERS STAMPS Rejected ACROSS THE APPLICATION.†

You suck at writing because you don’t give a damn, and you aren’t grown up enough to admit it. You’d rather pretend it’s a conspiracy on the part of women to “keep men down”.

And you don’t even have the will to show them up. Assuming (arguendo) that it’s true, you are being complicit in their vile oppression. You are collaborating with the Feminist Conspiracy.

†(Later in the film we find out the bank president is a woman, and it was all MISANDRY. /sarcasm)

pecunium
8 years ago

I like crumhorns, and shawms, and cornettos.

inurashii
inurashii
8 years ago

I know those are instruments but they seriously sound like British snack foods.

I’m a Hurdy Gurdy fan myself. Especially the creme-filled kind.

cloudiah
8 years ago

@Polliwog & inurashii, Very cool!

pecunium
8 years ago

Hurdy-gurdies are great, as are all the various concertinae. I am font of chanter music, as well as bagpipes and any number of esoteric Balkan woodwinds.

I just like music. Sometimes in Samisen, with singing.

thenatfantastic
thenatfantastic
8 years ago

I know those are instruments but they seriously sound like British snack foods.

They are:

(Sorry, opera fans)

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

Well, cornettos are traditionally associated with singing…

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

Curses.