The Accidental Music Critic

Warning:  This post is sort of a rant & may contain graphic language.  If you prefer your blogs PG, click away now.

Music today.  *sigh*  I never thought I would get to the point where I would have the same reaction as my mother about music but I have recently found myself doing just that.  There are some songs that I’ve heard in the top 40 recently that I’ve literally stopped in my tracks just to carefully listen to the words & then gone on, borderline horrified at what I’ve heard.

The first is called Black Widow by Iggy Azalea & the lyrics contain the phrase “I’m gonna love you, until you hate me & I’m gonna show you what’s really crazy”.  Talk about a woman scorned…I mean, this is the modern version of a bunny boiler.  Apparently the guy who inspired this song decided he changed his mind & didn’t want to be in a relationship with her anymore (can’t imagine why) and she thinks she should…destroy his life.  Makes sense.

The second is called “Habits” by Tove Lo & the lyrics say “I’ve gotta stay high all the time to keep you off my mind”.  This song is about a girl who is heartbroken & her response is to self medicate through food, sex, drugs and alcohol to forget about the person who broke her heart.  Again, a totally rational response and EXACTLY what I would suggest.

Except, NO.  This behavior is bat shit crazy and I mean that in the nicest way possible.  But, I care too much to sugar coat bullshit & tell you it’s candy.  Yes, I get that this is “just music” but studies have shown repeatedly that repeated exposure to song lyrics that normalize “bad” behavior tend to desensitize the listener.  So when a young girl is hearing a top 40 song that is encouraging stalking & self-destructive behavior, that behavior seems less & less unhealthy.  I mean, it’s a hit song!  If it’s good enough to be on MTV, it’s probably not that bad, right?

Wrong.  These songs, (and there are many others but these two stick out to me right now) are the antithesis of what we, as a society, should be teaching our girls and young women.  Songs like this are teaching young girls that it’s ok to be co-dependent & to sacrifice your well-being for a relationship.  The catchy beat disguises what the songs are really saying which sounds something like “I have no sense of myself & am going to latch onto you.  When you fail to sustain me, I will either go completely Fatal Attraction on you & hurt both of us OR I will try to fill this empty pit inside of me with something else.”  What girls/women need to know is that their identity can’t be tied to a relationship–that their sense of self MUST come from within & must be sustained by that which only they can fuel.  They must know how to exit a relationship with dignity & composure.  They must know that the message that society is giving is dead fucking wrong.

An Open Letter to Janay Rice

Dear Janay:

I’m writing this, first, to say I’m sorry.  I’m sorry that your personal life has been made so public and that people who don’t know you or care for you in any way are dissecting your choices, your lifestyle, your motivations and your culpability.  I am sorry that a very dark moment for you has become a national topic of discussion.  I’m sorry that you must relive that pain, embarrassment, suffering so often and that your name will forever be linked to this event in our world’s history.  

None of us really know what happened that night–what circumstances led up to the brief scene we have all witnessed.  We don’t know what happened in the moments prior to you coming into view, much less the weeks, months and years before.  We have no idea what your life might have looked like behind closed doors.  The world has witnessed a tiny moment of your existence, yet have collectively decided to be judge, jury and executioner, somehow thinking that 30 seconds gives us enough information about who you are. 

My heart breaks for you and for the women who have gone before you down this path.  Women who are blamed, re-victimized and whose lives have been paraded around before people who seem to think they know better.  I grieve for those who remain silent victims. My marriage, by the end, was increasingly violent and had I not asked (forced) him to leave, I might have indeed been where you were that night.   I do know that by the time the relationship reached that point I had been so emotionally and mentally beaten down that I was starting to not recognize the woman in the mirror.  I know what it is like to lose yourself, to wonder “how the hell did I get so lost?”.  I know that feeling of desperately wanting out but feeling trapped.  And sadly, this is the narrative for many women in our world today.  Some of the strongest, most resilient women I’ve had the privilege of knowing have been in abusive relationships, which used to surprise me.  Now, I am not shocked to discover that anyone has been a victim because, as the saying goes, it happens to the best of us.

So I write this letter, knowing you will likely never see it, to extend a hand of solidarity–sisterhood–support.   There are many more like you, like me, like US, in this world than we are perhaps comfortable talking about.  There are many who suffer silently, who live in fear and who will never be reduced to a statistic that is callously reported to the news media.  There are even more who are quick to judge women like us for being in the relationships that we chose, and very few of them ever take the time to know who we are which is vital to understand why we do what we do. 

Ladies who have never been in an abusive relationship–lay down your arms.  I am so, so very tired of seeing women attack other women.   Where have we gone so wrong in our world that, as women, we can look at another woman being brutally assaulted and insinuate that somehow she asked for it? Where have we gotten so off course that we don’t see another woman’s broken & lifeless body as a clarion call to stand up for women everywhere?  Why have we become so calloused that we forget that it could be us, our sisters, our daughters, for God’s sake?  Why must we be so quick to shoot our wounded?

Janay, and all women like you (me),  I will stand up for you, even when you lack the strength to stand up for them yourself.  I will continue to speak out against violence.  Most importantly, I will not judge your decisions, attempt to understand your motivations or criticize your actions.  I will continue holding space in my heart and consciousness that you-we-us will find a safe place to live in & the strength to do what is right for us individually.  I will combat the hatred and vitriol that is directed at you not by waging war but rather, by sending love.  After all, darkness can’t defeat darkness.  

Ladies, sisters, can you please join me in this?  Can we cease firing violent words at one another and start loving each other?  Can we stop competing and start complementing?  Can we, once again, meet where our hearts connect, embracing our shared humanity and let our love light the way?  

After all, we are certainly in this thing together.