Home Breakup Girl To The Rescue! - Super-Advice from Lynn Harris




Big To Do
About Us

August 16, 1999 e-mail e-mail to a friend in need


Tailhook '99, revisited

Last week I wondered: whence the bad misogynist trip at this year's Woodstock? I called; you responded -- I read everything. Sympathetic though they were, many readers suggested grimly that a certain number of rapes/assaults were, simply, statistically likely. Eeuw, but yeah.

But see, I'm also talking about the stuff that went on that is above the law, yet beneath contempt. As in (as Ann Powers wrote in the New York Times):

" ... rampant displays of vicious male behavior throughout the festival weekend that began on July 23, from the lone fan who scrawled a demand for oral sex across his chest to the many who shouted at female performers like Sheryl Crow to expose their breasts onstage...Sexy fun is one thing, but this was an orgy of lewdness tinged with hate. If only this were an isolated phenomenon arising from the primal state that concertgoers entered after three days in the dust and the garbage. Sadly, though, boneheaded sexism is on the rise throughout the rock scene. At the Warped Tour, which came to New York City a week before Woodstock '99 came to Rome, N.Y., numerous performers shouted nasty remarks at the 'ladies' in the crowd, culminating in a suggestion by Mark Hoppus of Blink 182 that female fans come up to the stage and sexually service his band mates. A few nights later, Limp Bizkit and Kid Rock shared the Hammerstein Ballroom stage. Both artists proclaimed they loved women even as they performed songs condemning them as whores."

She went on to describe the rock-chick factor: men who proclaim they love women even as they perform songs condemning them as whores, and the women who love them.

What. Is. THAT. About?

I'm not yelling; I'm just trying to get it. Many of your responses helped, like this [excerpt of] one from Aida:

"I love Kid Rock. I love Rage Against the Machine. I also love Liz Phair, Sleater-Kinney, PJ Harvey, Heavens to Betsy, Hole, and many other artists that promote feminist ideas. I love them all for different reasons. Kid Rock is a Rock Star, much like (as Ann Powers said), Mick Jagger. We're missing rock stars these days. People need a figurehead to admire and fear and want all in the same heart-pounding guitar riff/bass line. Do I like what Kid Rock says about women? Mmmmänot particularly. In fact, I'm pretty offended by it. But how can you resist the flash and the confidence in his being? Also--he happens to be a brilliant musician, in my opinion. Flash and rock-n-roll is a historic and deadly combination."

Aida also says: blame it not only on flash, but also on cash.

"...many of these kids have spent their formative years getting new cars and plastic surgery. Many parents want to give their kids everything that they can--and they did. Only now we see the repercussions, because these kids now feel a sense of entitlement--they HAVE to have everything work out for them, all the time. Remember how in Driver's Ed, they kept hounding the phrase "driving is not a right, it's a responsibility" into your head, and in the back of your head you were thinking "Whatever--I HAVE to drive myself to the mall on Saturday--that is my RIGHT" -- ? It's like that, only with everything. They can have "it" (money, fame, cheap pizza, beer, members of the opposite sex) all because the future is bright and there are no obstacles. Get a bunch of self-centered, indulged, immature, young adults together for three days, deprive them of what they're "entitled" to get at a fair price, trap them in an environment that strips them of cash and dignity, and I'm sure you'd see it happen again."

I also still say there's something about the music, at Woodstock and otherwise -- so I'm not just talking about Limp Bizkit goading fans to "start something," or whatever. And I'm not I'm not drawing a straight cause-and-effect line in the mud here. But this did make me think about -- and remember -- the intense near-opiate (or its opposite) effect of the music (not to mention celebrity) on the cranky, peaked, hormonal masses. Hey, if it happened for me with, like, Toto, surely it happens with the pounding, soul-searing,brain-throbbing tunes of today.

Point is, let's step away from the stage for a sec. As I said, I remember clearly how obsessed we were with pop music; how on one hand, we memorized the songs mutely and rotely, with no inner ear for what the lyrics actually meant, yet on the other, we used their snippets as our semafore. When I switched schools, leaving a boyfriend ("boyfriend") in the process, whom did I lipsynch in my farewell note? Styx, natch. A different boy mixed his breakup sadness onto a homemade tape; I still can't hear the unresolved (geddit?) chord at the end of "Against All Odds" without a pang.

To some degree, this taking-tunes-to-heart phenomenon has been around since, gosh, at least 1964 ED (as in SULLIVAN). I don't mean to sound too naive/faux-nostalgic, but those pop songs -- and even those that went before -- were, you know, kinda nice and wholesome. ("I get no kick from cocaine..." and all the rest.)

Now, some of what we absorb is a bit more insidious. And I'm not just talking about Judas Priest, or Barney, backwards. I'm talking about even the tamer stuff that -- duh, like tv and movies -- says that it's lame to be alone, that only a Pretty Woman gets a second glance, and oh, that women are bitches and sluts and men's worth is measured in the size of their swagger and the size of their, um, "swagger." (<-- that's supposed to be dirty; see below). You say, "Oh, I don't really listen," but you do. I did; I do.

I know there are so many counterpoints, so much excellent music; I know. But I still say -- as I have before -- sans knee-jerk He=Jerk assumptions, that all -- boys and girls, bitter and naive, Buffy and Angel -- are confused about how to behave in relationships, about what "love" means, about who we are when we're alone. And the most vulnerable people get their answers from the least reliable, yet most readily available, sources. Somewhere, somehow -- Could it be at home? Could it be at Hooters? Could it be at the movies, when Schwarzenegger shoots a woman, says 'Consider this a divorce,' and everyone falls over laughing? Could it be at HMV? on MTV? -- certain boys have gotten the idea that Being the Man is how relationships work, and certain girls have gotten the idea that they should shut up and put up. Or jump into the mosh pit and play real cool.

Yeah, we listen. So let's just listen more carefully. Hey, enjoy the music you enjoy. But make sure the songs stuck in your head, the ones moving your feet, are not on the soundtrack to Gotta Do Whatever It Takes Get and Keep A Boy/Girlfriend -- or At Least Male/Female Approval -- No Matter What, Cause Otherwise I'm a Loser.

And, as Aida writes: "A thought for these kids themselves: get a hobby; if you're a girl, make sure it's a guitar, and keep your shirt on."



blog | advice | comics | animation | goodies | to do | archive | about us

Breakup Girl created by Lynn Harris & Chris Kalb
© 2008 Just Friends Productions, Inc.
| privacy policy
Cool Aid!

Important Breakup Girl Maxim:
Breakup Girl Sez

Advice Archive
BG Glossary
Breakups 101

Web BG.net

Hey Kids! Buy The Book!
Available at Amazon