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Not Giving It Up

Everybody wants you

Everybody wants your love

I'd just like to make you mine all mine

Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na,

Baby give it up

Give it up, Baby give it up

Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na,

Baby give it up

Give it up, Baby give it up

Everybody sees you

Everybody looks and stares

I'd just like to make you mine all mine

Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na,

Baby give it up

Give it up, Baby give it up

Lyrics to a popular song by KC and the Sunshine Band.  Most of us know it. Most of us have bopped to it in our lives. Have any of us really listened to the lyrics?

Upon hearing this song on Radio Two the other day, I thought "Here we go- another piece of 80's electronic music - drivel. Oh well, might as well listen to the lyrics and see if there is any inspiration there".

There wasn't.

What I did find was someone who wanted to own a woman, who only saw her as a sexual object, who was trying to convince her to have sex with him. Am I reading too much into it? I don't think so - the lyrics are right there, saying just that.

The woman in this piece is an object. Everyone wants to own her for her physical beauty. Everyone wants to have sex with her. But where is the woman herself in this piece? Surely she is more than what is offered between her thighs.  People are only seeing the surface. And then responding to that surface, with sexual overtures.  How would you feel if you were the woman in this song? Everyone seeing you, everyone looking and staring, everyone wanting to "make you theirs".

Sounds a bit predatory, doesn't it?

People cannot own people in the Western world. But this chap still wants to make her his.  I loathe this terminology. When I married my husband, I did not become his. I was not given away at my wedding. I am not chattel.  Neither does my husband belong to me - he is his own person. Yes, we have an exclusive relationship with each other based on our love for each other. That is our choice.

This song, under its catchy, sunny melodies is full of the kind of message that seeps into our culture day after day, year after year, decade after decade, century after century.  It makes me uneasy. It makes me angry. It makes me want to scream in frustration sometimes. It makes me sad that even after all the work done by men and women the world over for equality songs like this still find a way through. 

But it's just a pop song, right?  That sort of thinking is, in my opinion, what allows our culture to slip bit by bit into the dark ages of patriarchal rule and misogyny.  I'm sure there are some people out there who just think I'm being an emotional woman with a chip on her shoulder. What they don't see is the very real threat to me and to women everywhere. 

Women don't want to be pressurised for sex. Women don't want to constantly be asked to "give it up".  A lot of women hate being called "baby" as well, as I'm sure do a lot of men, finding it demeaning.  Women don't want everyone to stare at them and see them just as a sexual object.

That is why this song bothers me. There is legion of songs out there that have the same message. That frightens me to no end. All I know is; I will not give it up.

 

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Author, poet, singer, dancer, blogger and activist, Joanna van der Hoeven (Autumn Song) is a Druid and Animist who honours the natural world around her and seeks to live with awareness and compassion. She has released four books, including Zen Druidry and Dancing With Nemetona.
www.joannavanderhoeven.com
https://twitter.com/JoannavanderH

Comments

  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor Thursday, 13 March 2014

    Right on, Joanna. You do not carry that chip alone!

    Many of the songs from my era had the same message, which I only began to realize years later. Though we thought the 60's promoted equality and women's rights, the same old male-dominated themes prevailed in different clothes:

    "It's now or never, Give your love to me" - WHAT? Now or never? No pressure there! Who does this asshole think he is?

    "Take a letter, Maria, a letter to my wife. Tell her I'm not comin' home, Gonna start a new life. You've been many things, But most of all a Good Secretary to me….." Holy shit, this is a throwback to the 1950's. How did this song ever hit the top of the charts; doesn't anybody LISTEN to the lyrics? No, I guess they don't. That's not really your focus, when you're smokin' grass.

    My wife and I have an exclusive relationship, too. Though it began with great physical attraction - there is nothing wrong with that - we immediately felt something more: a sympatico vibration of personality and thought that is most often described as finding one's soul mate.

    However, just to be the devil's advocate for a moment - many young women DO want men to stare at them and see them as unobtainable sexual objects - "I'm way out of your league, Dude!" It's an ego trip. Though I think this is mostly true of inexperienced girls driven by peer pressure, who don't fully understand the message sent by spending three hours on their hair and makeup and squeezing into the skimpiest clothes they can find. (Miley Cyrus' "twerking" comes to mind.)

    As a young man I used to think, "God bless them!" But as soon as I saw them as individuals with life tracks extending into their futures, I began to feel quite differently about our whole cultural scene.

    Anyway, nice blog. These things need to be pointed out.

  • aought
    aought Friday, 14 March 2014

    It's so ubiquitous in our culture, you don't even hear it in the lyrics. I remember being quite old before it dawned on me that the love in "give your love to me" was a euphemism for sex. And, that's the danger of subliminal messages, you're not even aware of it seeping into your psyche. Unless it is pointed out and discussed with a child, they are going to absorb the overall message that a culture gives subconsciously. Then we wonder why events like the Steubenville, Ohio case happen.

  • Joanna van der Hoeven
    Joanna van der Hoeven Saturday, 15 March 2014

    Too right. There's a song called Blurred Lines that has reached number one in the British pop charts. It's a song about a drunken woman who says no, but the guy says you should just go ahead anyway. THIS catchy little ditty is what young women and men are singing on their way to school.
    Absolutely sickening.

  • Joanna van der Hoeven
    Joanna van der Hoeven Saturday, 15 March 2014

    Hi Ted! Thank you for your kind words! I wholly agree with you. x

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