As I become older and understand feminist concepts more thoroughly, there’s a lot of pop culture stuff I used to like that I can’t unsee as being misogynist and gross now.
On a recent car trip, girlfriend and I were discussing the old “Beatles vs. Stones” parable (which was “Beatles vs. Elvis” in Pulp Fiction but I think the Stones are a better litmus test). I.e. that you’re either a Beatles fan or a Rolling Stones fan, and that says something about your personality.
I’ve always hated the Beatles, which to so many people is like saying that I enjoy murdering kittens, but since it’s come out that John Lennon was a total abusive asshole, I catch a bit less flack for it. So I always answered that question with “Stones,” by default because I hated their music a little less, and it seemed like the edgier choice. But honestly, when I listen to their music now, I can’t help but feel a little horrified by how fucked up and misogynist it is:
-“Under My Thumb,” an anthem to abusive, controlling relationships
-“Brown Sugar” (originally titled “Black Pussy”), a song about raping WOC
-“Backstreet Girl” a song in which Mick Jagger lovingly tells his working class Mistress to know her place (i.e. totally sexual available but hidden from the public’s eye)
It’s easy enough to say, “well, it was the sixties/seventies, everything was misogynist.” But after this discussion, Rod Stewart’s “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” came on the radio, and I kind of realized that this song is awesome, because it’s all about asking consent before fucking.
Think about it:
“If you want my body and you think I’m sexy
come on sugar let me know.
If you really need me just reach out and touch me
come on honey tell me so”
If that’s not a request for enthusiastic consent, I don’t know what is.
I also love the fact that after the characters in the song hook-up, they hang out and watch TV together, instead of feeling all awkward and shameful:
“They wake at dawn ‘cos all the birds are singing
Two total strangers but that ain’t what they’re thinking
Outside it’s cold, misty and it’s raining
They got each other neither one’s complaining
He says I sorry but I’m out of milk and coffee
Never mind sugar we can watch the early movie”
Thank you Rod Stewart, for keeping it real, and being sexy AF.