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If I Were a Boy: A Word On Female Pop Singers

Can I talk to you for five minutes about female pop singers?  I approach this topic with a measure of trepidation due to accusations of misogyny and chauvinism, which have recently been directed my way.  Let it be known that I am not presently, nor have I ever been (to the best of my knowledge) a female.  I do not have any sisters, I have had only one serious relationship, and my mother never subscribed to Cosmo, Glamour, Vanity Fair, or any of the other female almanacs.  That being the case, I recognize I have little authority from which to address this issue.  But it is an issue that I must address, if for no other reason than to provide a bit of male perspective.  Feel free to get upset and call me a monster; just know in advance that I feel really bad about it.

Our current crop of pop starlets are vociferously praised for their independent spirits and the wonderful examples they provide for young girls.  This, of course, excludes people like Britney Spears, Heidi Montag, Lindsay Lohan, and The Pussycat Dolls.  I’m talking about singers like Taylor Swift, Beyonce, Rihanna, Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, et al.  Many of them have risen from humble beginnings to produce hit records, star in movies and commercials, win awards, and date super hot dudes.

By consistently outperforming and outselling the men-folk, these impressive women have shattered any remaining perceptions of masculine superiority in the entertainment industry.  They have pride, they have power, they are bad-ass women who don’t take no crap from no one.  Seemingly, they would be perfect role models for kids growing up with nothing but an iPod and a dream.

There’s something I don’t understand though.  Why is it that these modern flag-bearers of liberated femininity fill their portfolios with songs that are all about men?  They are praised for the ways they stick it to their exes and keep their boyfriends in line, but the fact remains that they are constantly talking about their exes and singing about boyfriends.

Breakups, unrequited love, cheating boyfriends, Disney-princess romances, and perfect fantasy marriages comprise fully 90% of the super-edgy subject matter these brave ladies cover.  It is as if nothing of note ever happens in their lives besides men coming through, at first fulfilling and then crapping on their dreams.  Think I’m exaggerating?  Let’s peruse an abridged anthology of Songs by Women about Men.

  • Beyonce: If I Were a Boy, Irreplaceable, Single Ladies, Baby Boy, every song by Destiny’s Child
  • Carrie Underwood: All-American Girl, My Last Name, Before He Cheats, Ever Ever After
  • Taylor Swift: Love Story, Our Song, Tim McGraw, Tear Drops on My Guitar, Should’ve Said No, Picture to Burn, everything else she’s ever written
  • Kelly Clarkson: Behind These Hazel Eyes, Since You’ve Been Gone, Because of You, A Moment Like This
  • Miley Cyrus: See You Again, 7 Things, If We Were a Movie, Let’s Get Crazy, Let’s Do This (Note: I’m only familiar with the first two songs on this list. I’m speculating on the content of the other three based on their titles.)
  • Katie Perry: I Kissed a Girl (close enough), Hot and Cold

As I mentioned in the intro, I am in no way qualified to speak on behalf of women, but all the same, this one-dimensional portrayal strikes me as a bit offensive.  These starlets present a portrait of a woman whose life revolves around men.  Not exactly the empowering image of womanhood we are supposed to be embracing these days.

And that’s another thing.  These are five of the most beautiful women in America!  Are we to believe that they are constantly dreaming about and pining for men they can’t have only to eventually be cheated on and broken up with?  Gimme a break, Beyonce, you’ve been with Jay-Z for, like, twenty years!  I appreciate your efforts to relate to the trials of us common folk, but this obvious charade is a little demeaning.

And Taylor?  You’re killing me sister; I don’t doubt that breaking up with Jonas-bot #3 is the hardest thing anyone in the world has ever had to live through, but surely you can remember a few moments of your conscious existence that did not involve a boy.  Try writing a nasally, country-pop ballad about that, and please try not to make it about how lonely you were without a boy.

Now I’m not saying male singers are immune from the occasional love-sick lullaby; I’m just saying it’s a heckuva lot more common with the ladies.  I’m also not saying that these boy-crazy songs aren’t flattering.  The idea that every woman in the world is concerned only with discovering new ways of getting into my pants is quite appealing.  It’s just that personal experience has provided strong evidence to the contrary.

These pop stars are trafficking myths and perpetuating archaic stereotypes, and I say they’ve been allowed to peddle their drivel for long enough.  This is 2009 and it’s time we demand a higher caliber of lady-singers.  Of maybe I just miss the good ole days of Mandy, Britney, and Christina.

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