Look, people should be able to like whatever music they like. And I have no quarrel with Kitty Pryde whatsoever, beyond her co-opting the name of one of my favorite X-Men, and I have nothing to say one way or the other about her skills as a songwriter or rapper.
My only thing is that this is a song where a guy is treating a girl with disrespect and the girl is singing about how she’s OK with it, and even likes it, and his jerkiness is feeding into her marriage fantasies about him. And for a YA author, one who I really like and admire and am inspired by, one who holds a position of power and influence over a certain demographic, to come out and say I LOVE THIS SONG, was kind of a boner killer for me. The end.
They should have handed the microphone to the chick in the back lifting her Boba Fett mask to take a sip of a tall boy.
But seriously: I was “a girl her age” once too, and I have journals filled to brimming proving that I spent months following around the WORST guys like puppy dogs, I felt flattered to be insulted by them, because it meant they knew I existed and were giving me some form of attention. I certainly don’t think this is okay now. I read those journal entries and actually sigh over the fact that I was like that. How could I be? I can’t say for sure if there were any outside influences that made this seem okay to me. I was listening to Luscious Jackson and The Breeders and PJ Harvey and knew how powerful women could be through the example set by mothers and grandmothers and aunts and teachers and yet…
It was probably just hormones. But because I have that girl in my past, I have to be a bit forgiving of young women who write things like this. They don’t know any better; they’ll learn. (And, very likely, halfway through the experience, maybe even when the guy starts paying real attention to them, they’ll be all WTF am I doing with this douche? and face palm and develop a crush on a sweet, nerdy type who’s really into making films. Because teenage girls, if nothing else, are totally fickle.) What I can’t forgive as easily is older women who write things like this (yes, you, Stephenie Meyer) and the older men who find this adorbs and sign up to produce it. They’re the ones who should know better by now. So: a long-winded way of saying I agree with Mr. Fanning. Just with a big ol’ asterisk on the side.
It’s probably indicative of something pretty tragic in our culture that I actually find this song super refreshing, particularly as a corrective to Taylor Swift’s damsel in distress/knight in shining armor/Romeo and Juliet as romantic fairytale brand of shiny, regressive pop-country. As long as we’re going to have a misogynistic culture that teaches women that their desires are dirty and that they shouldn’t ever ask for what they want, can we at least also have songs that acknowledge that reality? I know that part of the reason I let boys treat me so badly as an adolescent (and, um, more recently than that) was because I felt like I would never be as pretty or pure as I needed to be to be loved, to be loveable, and I assumed I was the only one who felt that way.
I get not wanting to hold it up as an ideal, and that younger girls might mistake what I take for tongue-in-cheek acknowledgement (“you’re a tool again / but you’re the one that I’ve chosen”) as an endorsement of staying up waiting to be called by a drunk guy, but quite honestly, I’d rather that than a generation which believes that romantic love is going to solve all of their problems. Because I’ve seen many more women grow out of wanting to be treated like shit than I have women who don’t still kiiiiind of want to be a princess.
(The difference is that one fantasy is obviously ugly whereas the other is so well packaged; ultimately, of course, they can be equally destructive.)
Both Zan and Zanopticon (no relation?) weigh in with stellar Additional Perspectives.