Sexist Songs 2014: CHRISTMAS EDITION!

Mariah Carey forces her dog under some mistletoe so she can snog him

So I’m going home in a few days and I’m beginning to feel quite Christmassy! This seems to be the year that “feminism” has entered social media, I don’t know if its just the people I’m friends with on Facebook but every other link I see shared is about sexism and feminism and emancipation of the fairer sex. Even buzzfeed is at it. At the beginning of the year I wrote a bit about sexism in the Top 40. In these times of festive fun its very important not to forget that sexism is still a problem and so I thought I’d take an analytical look at some of our favourite Christmas songs, and ask the question we’ve all been dying to know the answer to… are Christmas songs sexist?

Is Mariah Carey, “All I want for Christmas is You?” sexist?

My favourite thing about a good Christmas song is it stops me from worrying about those popstars who don’t have careers anymore. Whenever I think of Mariah, I can smile and think, oh she’s going to be fine in her old age, because she sang (possibly) the best Christmas song there is. This festive classic reflects the classic princess/prince idea that we were all taught by Disney, basically, you’re going to be just fine as long as you find your Prince. In fact, your Prince is all you need to be happy! I don’t like that stupid stereotype that sets us all up for failure because klet’s be honest, ladies (and gentlemen!) no matter how great your partner is they can’t make you happy if you don’t know how to be happy already!! #PREACH! But I do like that Mariah focusses on festive love instead of festive consumerism.

Verdict: You just can’t criticise a song that uses sleigh bells with such reckless abandon,.

Is “Santa Baby” sexist?

Whereas Mariah is pining for some fireside loving, Marilyn, Kylie, Madonna and all those other wonderfully beautiful ladies have got something a bit more tangible on their minds. “Santa, I really want a nice gift this year, and I think I deserve it because I’ve spent the last 12 months not kissing people…”. Santa Baby really embraces the idea that women want material goods and that they will use their wiley, sexy ways to get them. If you don’t think this song is gendered, wel firstly you’re being a bit dumb, but secondly have a look at Buble’s version. Whereas the ladies want some kind of fur garment (“slip a sable under the tree”), some decorations from Tiffany’s and a ring, Buble wants a Rolex, some Canucks tickets and some decorations bought, quite inexplicably, from Mercedes… I’m not sure that makes the song a misogynist´s anthem but it is some strong proof that Michael Buble is a moron.

Verdict: It clearly plays on “Gold Digger” stereotypes, but it could arguably be ironic?

Is “It’s Cold Outside” sexist?

On the subject of Buble, here’s another song he’s murdered recorded with Idina Menzel. But I will always remember the version by Tom Jones and Cerys Matthews because it has been forever forged in my brain as The Creepiest Song Ever. Cary Mattews’s voice sounds so young in the recording, coupled with her saying “my father will be pacing the floor…” makes you think she’s about 15. I think the creepy McCreepy highlight is when she says “Say, what’s in this drink…? I wish I could break this spell”. What IS in the drink, Tom!? What spell have you poisened her with!? She goes on, “The answer is no.” But thankfully he is not perturbed and keeps pressurising her to drink and smoke until finally agrees to stay.

Verdict: I don’t know if its cold outside but this song sends a freezing cold shiver down my spine.

Is East 17, “Stay Another Day”, sexist?

Christmas seems to be littered with needy men attempting to convince women to stay with them. East 17 choose to emotionally blackmail their loved one: “Baby if you have to go away, don’t think I can take the pain… don’t leave me alone like this”. Also, in a vaguely innappropriate gesture of affection, he says “I touch your face while you are sleeping”. I find this very offensive as first of all its an invasion of personal space while somebody is unconscious. Secondly it reflects this awful idea that women look good when they’re sleeping, which is cruel as some of us dribble when we’re sleeping and we can’t help it.

Verdict: I’m going to be honest, this may well be my favourite Christmas song so I refuse to criticise it.

Is Slade “Merry Christmas Everybody” sexist?

No, its not, its the best song ever written and should be played all year around.

Seasons greetings!!!

Blollings xx


The Veet ‘Don’t Risk Dudeness’ ad, body hair and sexism

Is the Veet ‘don’t risk dudeness’ ad sexist?

(I don’t like jumping on bandwagons, but I guess I just really like thinking about body hair???)

Everybody knows that hair-removal ads usually place themselves in luscious tropical waterfalls with hairless, bronzed models dragging sharp razors over their hairless, bronzed legs and armpits. They’re silky, pink, feminine and gorgeous and they are the epitome of the feminine ideal.

Veet: Don’t risk dudeness

Veet has decided to take a different approach. They are excited because ‘this is the first time the brand has taken a comedic approach to address women’s hair removal’I like comedy and I know you shouldn’t take it too seriously, but I think this ad is awful. I suppose Veet decided most women don’t spend that long at tropical waterfalls, and so instead of showing the product in an aspirational, dream-like location they instead have focused on women’s normal life. And in doing so attempted to persuade us to buy Veet products by encouraging us to feel shame and disgrace in our everyday lives.

The situations are absurd: lying in bed trying to cuddle your boyfriend, absent-mindedly hailing and taxi and going to to the pedicurists. That’s what women spend their days doing, right?! Unable to drive, we catch a cabs to get between the bedroom and the beauty parlour. And with all the extra time that leaves us in the day, while our menfolk are out working and being productive, its no wonder they greet us with complete repulsion because we haven’t managed to at least shave today, I mean for god’s sake.

The stupid problem with the ad is that this brand, that is aimed at women (that presumably employs women? Right?), is so wholly and completely out of touch with women’s reality. The most startling reality check for them might be that if you don’t shave for a day, literally nobody cares. Literally nobody notices. Your boyfriend, your housemates, your taxi-driver, your pedicurist….they don’t care.

The problem with hair removal ads in general is that they perpetuate the cruel and damaging myth that women’s bodies (especially women’s natural bodies) are repulsive. It shouldn’t be okay for people to say they are disgusted by female body hair. But it is okay for people to say that, because in our society female body hair is such an abomination that it incites repulsion and shame. If we’re shameful of the very nature of our bodies, how will we react in relationships with others – especially with men, whose bodies (we are taught) are more important than our own?

I don’t care if people shave or not, I quite like it when they don’t because its nice to see somebody valuing their own desires about how to spend their time and treat their body above the ridiculous expectations imposed on them by society. I understand some people find a hairless leg sexier than a hairy one, maybe for most people it does look better. But hairless leg doesn’t look that much better. Its the same body. And hopefully the purpose of existence is more than just looking sexy to everyone all the time.

All that anger and I haven’t even mentioned the homophobic and transphobic problems with this campaign!

I like this article about body hair:
Vagenda: Hair

cya later gonna go shave

The Sun "Page 3 vs. Breast Cancer" makes me feel weird

I signed the No More Page 3 petition a year and a half a go. To be honest, I kind of expected Page 3 to have become extinct by now, but its still there, and this week – in a surprise move – its trying to encourage women to check their breasts for lumps.

I’ve had a look at the campaign. It leaves a funny taste in my mouth. It makes me feel uncomfortable and weird. I actually find that the idea of the The Sun trying to give me medical advice and encourage me to cop a feel of my own breasts left me feeling a bit invaded. I agree with the New Statesmen – they focus on breast cancer because they’re obsessed with breasts. Of course breast cancer worries them – you can’t be a page 3 model if you’ve had a mastectomy! I feel like they’re telling me to make sure I keep my breasts nice and healthy, so they’re still nice and healthy to be oggled at by men. That’s how shallow this campaign appears to me. 
I do think in the cover photo of Rosie Jones saluting, she looks beautiful. It does reflect what they’ve claimed is to be celebrating natural beauty, youth and freshness. But it shouldn’t be in the newspaper. That shouldn’t be were you find pictures of beautiful, naked women. What’s more, the cheeky photos sexualise the activity of checking breasts for lumps…its not a sexy activity. Its like trying to sexualise breast feeding. It just feels inappropriate to me, and I don’t want to associate The Sun and David Dinsmore with checking my breasts for lumps!
In the Guardian, Gaby Hinsliff seems to think the ends justifies the means, but I find her opinions patronising when she says the cheeky tone of the campaign is probably a good match for the mood of young women who still feel too immortal to heed conventional public health campaigns” . I’m a young woman and I can tell you – it’s not a good match. In fact, I find it patronising that the Sun thinks it can use a sexist feature to try and educate me about my breasts. I know about my breasts, and I know about the Sun, and I don’t like page 3.
It is a bit of a tricky conundrum, as in the end, page 3 doing this has reminded me about checking my breasts for lumps. Which is a good thing. But the Page 3 vs. Breast Cancer campaign doesn’t make me feel empowered or enlightened or helped out by the friendly newspaper, it makes me feel queezy. 

My fave sexist pop songs of 2014 (SO FAR!)

Blurred Lines was criticised a lot last year. Its lyrics “I know you want it” earned it the reputation of being a ‘rape anthem’. It also has a catchy little hook, and although it’s banned in many universities and condemned by modern, forward-thinking people, it’s still played on Radio 1 with reasonable regularity.

So now we’re in 2014 I thought I’d have a look at the some of the chart music available for the enjoyment of men, women and children, and see if those cheeky pop stars have learned from Thicke’s mistakes. ASK YOURSELVES: are pop songs on radio 1 sexist?
Is Jason Derulo: Talk Dirty to Me (ft. Chainz) sexist?
Current position in the chart: 38 (17th week in the top 40)
There’s a little known rule when it comes to identifying pop music sexism: the catchiest songs are usually the most offensive. Jason, bless him, manages to undermine my entire languages degree by reassuring me that it doesn’t matter whether or not he understands what I’m saying as “our conversations ain’t long … but you know what is ;)” [winky face my own]. It’s a high tempo romp around the world that disregards women’s need to talk, express themselves, be appreciated for anything other than their bodies, or even have names (“Chainz” has got his lucky girl “saved in my phone under “Big Booty”), but at least he manages to show an admirable lack of xenophobia.
Verdict: I love this song, but it’s so sexist, I have tell myself that I like it ironically.
Is Lady Gaga: Do What U Want (ft. R Kelly) sexist?
Current position: no. 12
Lady Gaga, sometimes described as a feminist icon and generally an advocate of liberation and gay rights, has incomprehensibly united with R Kelly on her latest single. The title sounds awful, but it is possible to argue that her lyrics aren’t quite as bizarrely sexist as they seem: “do what you want with my body” she says, because “you can’t have my heart and you won’t use my mind”… she could be being a bit defiant in the face of the objectification of celebrities in print…? She could be! But then R Kelly steps on the stage, somebody we’re all confused how we feel about since the court case, and tells Gaga he will “do what I want, do what I want with your body! Do what I want, do what I want with your body!” What about what she wants, Kelly? 
Verdict: No, R Kelly, no.

Is Pitbul: Timber (ft. Ke$ha) sexist?
Current position: 2
Ke$ha and Pitbull. Excellent.
Incredibly catchy chorus: check.
Instructions to do dance moves that are inappropriate in public places: check (“Face down, booty up! Timberrrrr!”)
Assuming a woman wants to sleep with you when she tells you she doesn’t: check (“I’m slicker than an oil spill. She say she won’t, but I bet she will.”)
Verdict: creepy as hell.

Is Kid Ink: Show Me (ft Chris Brown) sexist?
Current position: 32
Well alarm bells are already ringing because Chris Brown is out and about. Actually this song just seems like some straight forward hip hop where Chris promises to give me (the listener) “what you need”, clearly expecting whichever female he’s ogling at to bow down to him with reverence as soon as she hears what he’s saying. It includes a nice touch of objectification: “Go on the floor like a doormat”. Great.
Verdict: reasonably creepy

Is Katie Perry: Roar sexist?
Current position: 19
Katie Perry, what a babe. Apparently, people tried to shut her up but now she’s broken free and transformed into a series of empowering animals. I like this song because she describes herself as a lot of things that could traditionally be seen as ‘masculine’: “I got the eye of a tiger, a fighter, dancing through the fire, cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar.” She tells us a harrowing tale of being downtrodden (“I guess that I forgot that I had a choice, I let you push me past the breaking point”) but she came out fighting.
Verdict: excellent jungle sound effects and empowering lyrics make for a top anthem for boys and girls.

Is Beyonce: Drunk in love (ft. Jay Z) sexist?
Current position: no. 10
Beyonce has recently ‘come out’ as a feminist and says one of her main aims is to empower women. Everybody has to admire her, if simply for her ability to dance for so long like a machine. Unfortunately she let Jay Z spit some verse on her new release, and he claims he might have to serve some time once he’s had sex with his wife because he will “beat the box” like Mike Tyson did. Mike Tyson is a convicted rapist, but the facy Jay Z then says “In ’97 I bite” suggests he’s referring to whenTyson bit off Evandey Holyfield’s ear. Then he quotes a scene from Tina Turner’s biographical film, where her abusive husband forced her to eat cake then beating her. This article talks about the song quite well.
Verdict: get Jay outta there. 
Conclusion: I have obviously chosen a range of offensive songs for this summary, but these are also the songs chosen to be given ample airtime by publicly funded BBC Radio 1. In many ways a publicly funded radio station probably shouldn’t be promoting songs by sexists, nor should it be normalising sexist attitudes that trivialise the gravity of domestic violence and the importance of sexual consent. I suppose for Radio 1, catchy chourses and high production values actually are able to polish a turd (the turd being the sexist slurs).

Any other sexist songs I should add to the list? Comment below! 🙂

Related posts: Sexist Songs: Christmas Edition

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Travelling Alone in Mexico as a Woman

If you have the chance to go to Mexico, go! If you have nobody to go with you, GO ALONE! Before I went to Mexico I talked about it to my friends, who supportively told me more horror stories than you could shake a badger at, and also some advice that ranged from “you do realise Mexico is THE most dangerous country in the WORLD?” to simply “DON’T GO!” Being a deductive kind of gal, I soon realised everyone who was telling me not to go, had never actually been themselves. I did an on-line search and these articles by Vagenda and Sarah Hepola convinced me that not only was travelling alone an option, but in the struggle for female emancipation, I basically had a duty towards womankind to get myself out there and see some Mayan ruins!

Chilling with feminist golden gal Frida at the Frida Kahlo museum

It’s not silly to be nervous, and a lot of people might wonder if it is safe for a woman to travel through Mexico alone. But there are so many advantages. Travelling alone is like living the single girl’s dream: you can do what you want, where you want and when you want. You can tailor everything to your tastes and budgets. Sometimes this is actually quite a challenge, at first I found it stressful making decisions and getting the impetus to keep packing up and moving. But in Mexico there was always something new to see, and once I got into the swing of things, wild horses couldn’t keep me in my hostel room!

Without friends to encourage you to get out of your comfort zone, you have to do it for yourself. When I was in Valladolid, I went to a cenote, and I decided I didn’t feel like swimming in the water. I told myself it was because I don’t like swimming. BUT after a moment of deep self-reflection, gazing wistfully at a couple floating in the middle of the pool, I realised I was actually just too nervous to go in on my own. I knew if my friends were with me, I would go in. Which was ridiculous. So I forced myself to change into my bikini and get in the water to splash around a bit. As I was swimming (well, hanging onto the rope. I can’t swim), it began to rain, water filtering through the rocks and vines above onto my head. I had overcome my nerves!!!!! Suck on that!

I was travelling alone for the first time, which can be a bit intimidating, especially as the other people in the hostels might have fancy backpacks and money belts and earthy jewellery. I naturally assumed that all backpackers were probably dickheads (which admittedly makes no sense because I was backpacking too…). This is a Negative Attitude and I warn against it! After talking to like three people I realised that perhaps I was being a bit judgemental, and I began forcing myself to approach people. If you don’t, you might get lonely. I found people were so friendly, and the Mexicans were friendliest of all. 

If you want to go to Mexico alone, and are nervous, before I went I made a clear plan of where I was going to go and when, what hostels I could stay at and what I could do. I followed a popular route and stayed in busy hostels (that were full of other travellers, like me). I tried to follow all the safety advice you can find about travelling alone, but sometimes you have to relax a bit and enjoy yourself, and I think as long as you’re using common sense then you have to be unlucky to get into trouble. I met a lot of people who I never would have spoken to if I hadn’t been alone, my Spanish improved more in that month that it did in five months in Cuba, and I’m really proud of myself for doing something even though I was scared, and doing it all on my own.