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So last night Irene and I went to go see Ani DiFranco (which was super great especially the super cute/talented drummer) but unfortunately we found ourselves stuck listening to the opener, Hamell on Trial.

Hamell on Trial sang poorly, had mediocre guitar skills, but worse than that he was incredibly offensive. Literally everything that came out of his mouth was some sort of commentary on female genitalia, or his experience of sex, where let’s face it his descriptions projected women as simply objects rather than participants.

wash your mouth and bald head with soap, you creeper

wash your mouth and bald head with soap, you creeper

And yet the strange thing is that I think I was supposed to read Hamell on Trial as being uber cool and progressive for his crudeness. As if the fact that he says he loves to “lick pussy” shows that he’s a feminist. Or the fact that he has a 30 second song about Matthew Shepard means I’m not supposed to get all enraged about his demeaning heteronormative jokes about the fact that only the men in the audience know what he’s talking about when he talks about sex with his wife. I’m all for talking about sex more openly, for not feeling ashamed of our bodies. But it has to be done with respect. My body should not be the punchline of a joke, that’s not a part of my feminism.

I don’t understand how just because you have a guitar and talk about Obama makes it ok to demean me and my body? I don’t understand how talking about essentially pressuring your wife into having anal sex makes you hip and cool. And I certainly don’t understand how it makes you suitable for Righteous Babe Records or as an opener for Ani.

I don’t know who makes these decisions but if it is Ani, I hope next time she seriously reconsiders her choice in picking Hamell on Trial. Apparently he’s been opening for Ani for years and you’d think someone would let them know that that creeper is offending a lot of her audience.

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Lately it’s been very hard for me to watch movies and theatrical productions that forward what I think is anti-feminist thinking. But I have found I have hardly applied the same standards to my music. I worry that I might be unintentionally brain-washing myself with all the male-dominated, relationship-obsessed, female-abusive lyrics. The third might seem like something I should be able to pick up on easily, but the problem is that I’ve been listening to these songs for years, putting myself in the lead male singer’s place. So lyrics like Dashboard Confessional’s “As Lovers Go”:

“This is easy as lovers go. So don’t complicate it by hesitating.

are you brave enough to leave with me tonight?”

Which I read as an anthem from me to scared, confused, but self-identified “straight” girls… but actually just sounds like non-consensual sex out of context. Or maybe it still does in context? I own so many angry relationship songs and, while they are fun to listen to when I’m feeling down, it’s embarrassing to read the lyrics and think that I would support anyone saying, “I’m gonna make damn sure that you won’t ever leave, no, you won’t ever get too far from me” (“MakeDamnSure” by Taking Back Sunday).

So. I’ve remedied this by finding Ani DiFranco, who sings about basically everything I’ve been thinking about regarding social norms and more. I highly recommend her if you feel me on this problem at all. However, I want to know what y’all feel about music.

What role does music play in your life? When do you most listen to music? When you’re upset, when you’re really happy, when you’re doing homework, when you’re having sex…
Do you sing along? Are the lyrics things you would say? Are you ashamed of your music, are there certain songs that you play only when you’re alone? What makes you do that, what about the song are you embarrassed of?

These are the questions that come to my mind because I think we could look to our music for answers about our socialization. Songs that I’m ashamed of are usually ones that convey feelings I’m uncomfortable displaying to the public. And so sometimes I find it really empowering to play a song that means a lot to me to a friend. I know I’m one who makes a mix CD to convey my feelings to someone. I think it might be fun to analyze one of the more subtle forms of cultural training. Feel free to answer my questions or bring up your own!

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