So I find this song really relevant. In case you weren't sure what it's about, let me break it down for you.
It's about a young woman that gets seduced by a guy that convinces her to have unprotected sex*, and then she deals with the competing discourses she's bombarded with after becoming pregnant. In the end, she keeps the fetus and hopes it's a girl, but not because she thinks she'll burn in Hell if she gets an abortion, but because she sees it as an opportunity to take control of her own life and wants to raise a daughter that is able to make her own choices more freely than she herself was. Of course, not all of it is explicit- it's mostly metaphor and thematic parallelism. Symbolism, allusion, etc. IT'S LITERATURE.
I feel like I have some things in common with the gal in the song. I fall into a lot of traditional gender roles, but I don't think I was conditioned to do so, per se. I was drawn to girly stuff as a little girl, and I'm still drawn to them now. But my parents gave me lots of opportunities to do boyish stuff- I played outside and got dirty, I rode bikes, I played soccer, I stayed home to shoot zombies with my dad and sisters. Sure, they weren't too keen on my liking some nerdy things that tended to be boyish, but it was because they were nerdy, not boyish. Hell, I was allowed to have a phase in middle school where all I wore was cargo pants and Dragon Ball Z shirts.
So it should be no surprise that while sure, I want a career and all that kinda jazz, I'm also heartset on a family. Yes, I'm a sucker, I want the 'Murican Dream.
But there are other reasons the song has salience.
He sang me the life to which good girls aspire
Where men in white coats give us
Pills to tame the horses that stomp on our floors
And pills for when the horses have bolted out the door
First, there's the fact that society at large tells me what to do and how to act. There are certain things I'm expected to do and accomplish. I'd say in some ways, it's the opposite of "traditional" roles, but still, ultimately, just as confining. I'm expected to have this amazing career and make a bunch of money because I'm so "smart" and crap. Never mind whether I actually want to or not- I'm just supposed to. My parents wanted better for me, so that means I'm a quitter if I don't go all the way and get a Ph.D. But just because I can, doesn't mean I should. A friend that's very dear to me has asked me more than once, "If it makes you so miserable, why are you still there [in grad school]?" I can never give her an answer other than that I don't want to disappoint anyone or be another statistic (see related post). And that's dissatisfying for both of us.
Second, the "men in white coats."
So let's discuss the current situation with women's health issues a little. Or, rather, I'm going to rant at you about it. Because this is highly personal for me, and I encountered some mansplaining earlier today and need to get this out of my system before I esplode.
There have been more anti-abortion bills proposed in both the national and state legislatures between the 2010 election and now than there were between Roe v. Wade and 2010. Here, PICTURES (this is of enacted ones- imagine all the ones that failed)!
And let us not forget that in the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform's hearing on birth control, no women were on the committee or allowed to testify.
It's fucking bullshit that up until a few years ago, a woman like me that needed birth control pills in order to have a regular cycle needed her doctor to fill out a form or call the insurance company to inform them that it was for regulatory, not recreational, purposes every time she got a new prescription; but a dude with E.D. that needed an erection to last wouldn't need his doctor to do anything more than write the prescription. It's fucking bullshit that male enhancement drugs are covered by some plans, but that breast augmentation is only supplemented when it has to do with surgery post-cancer operation.
Who's making these decisions? A bunch of rich, usually white, dudes.
Don't you dare say you're upset about possibly paying for some whore to have sex when the plan you're already signed onto covers erection medication, you asshole. And don't you dare say your insurance shouldn't have to supplement breast surgery when it's systematically your sex that demands women's boobs look a certain way.
I like men, but sometimes, I hate them.
So anyway, the stuff about pills.
It also speaks to how our society is so quick-fix-cure-all today. We want a diagnosis for everything because then there's a pill to solve the problem and POOF PRESTO we're normal again. Well, sorry, but bullshit.
There's no such thing as "adult ADD" or "adult ADHD." You're born with that shit, you just went undiagnosed until you were a grown up.
Restless leg syndrome? Please. They're cramps.
People are lazy and don't want to work at their problems.
Now, this isn't to say I'm entirely anti-medication. Fuck, I'm on anti-depressants. But I'm also seeing a therapist. I'm for comprehensive care- do what needs to be done in every realm, and don't assume only one thing will or will not work. Because some people respond to meds, some don't. Some respond to therapy, some don't. Some need both. Some need none and can cope by themselves.
I need both. Does that make me less of a person? I should hope not. And I'm sure the people I'm close to don't think so, but 'Murican society writ large thinks I'm broken because I need help and can't pull myself up from my bootstraps and make a million dollars on my own wits and ingenuity.
Fuck that shit. I'm a socialist. I'm not against profit, but I'm also a fan of giving to others in need. And I prefer giving the benefit of the doubt and leaning toward the side of generosity than scrupulousness- I hate it when that one person that cheated the system gets harped on and so a thousand other legit cases get ignored. And it wouldn't be a problem if we had a more giving system in the first place.
But I digress. This was about women's issues, not the social safety net (although, arguably, the two are intertwined- 'nother post).
So what I love about this song is it embodies a kind of post-modern version of feminism, one to which I adhere. It's about a gal that does what she wants and FUCK ALL THE REST OF YOU ARSEHOLES. A woman should be allowed to be a wife and mom without getting accused of being an anti-feminist. At the same time, she should be able to not be a wife and mom and not be accused of being a FemiNazi.
While I would never tell another woman not to get an abortion, I don't think I could. And while I'd never tell a woman she's making a bad choice by not getting married and having kids, I know I want a husband and a
And like the woman in the song, I'll raise whatever kids I have to be happy in their identity. To love themselves more than I love myself. To trust themselves more than I trust myself. And sure, to love themselves without the need of love from someone else- but that wanting the love of someone else is perfectly acceptable. Humans are social animals. It's okay to want others, even to need others. Just as long as there's some ability to love oneself irrespective of others. That's something I need to work on a little more, but something I hope my progeny will find easy.
Because, as the next song I plan on analyzing a little says, "I've got a lot of love to give. And that's enough."
*I'm avoiding saying this is rape because the "river of sighs" and some other imagery indicates she was convinced by his sweet words that everything would be okay, not that she was forced violently into intercourse. That's a different kind of coercion, a passive aggressive manipulation that can lead to regret. But. Regret and rape aren't the same, I understand that. There are myriad songs about rape, though.