There’s a hit song on the radio by Avril Lavigne called “Girlfriend”. Each time it came on, I listened more closely, past the catchy hook in the song, to what the lyrics were saying, and was appalled. The matter of this song came to a head when my ten year old daughter asked if she could download it onto her iPod. My husband encouraged me to watch the video accompanying this song, after he’d seen it. He’d already said no to her request.
So I did. I watched the video (it’s on YouTube) and called the lyrics up on the computer, just to be sure that what I’d been hearing on the radio was what I thought I’d heard. Here’s a selection of the lyrics of this pop song:
I can see the way, I see the way you look at me
And even when you look away I know you think of me
I know you talk about me all the time
again and again(and again and again and again)
So come over here, tell me what I want to hear
Better yet make your girlfriend disappear
I don’t want to hear you say her name ever again
(And again and again and again!)
Cause, She’s like so whatever
And you could do so much better
I think we should get together now
And that’s what everyone’s talking about!
The song is all about a girl who wants another girl’s boyfriend, to the point of coming on to him and telling him his girlfriend is dumb, not worthy, etc and she is. In the video, you see the hip, dressed-in-black narrator of the song shoving the nerdier looking girl into a port-a-potty, swinging a golf-ball and hitting it on her head, knocking her out, pulling her away from her boyfriend and climbing all over him, and so forth. It’s offensive.
It’s offensive because, not only is the message pretty clear that if you want something that belongs to another girl, it’s okay to grab it by any means possible, it’s also okay to bully other girls. It’s demeaning to the girls who are bullied, and to the girls who listen to the song, thinking it’s oh-so-cool to be a bully stereotype.
There are girls like this, I don’t doubt it. But Lavigne’s audience is also made up of younger girls than the ones in the video (like my ten year old). My daughter, who’s had her own feelings hurt by other girls (and it’s going to get worse) thinks this video is extremely funny, and sees nothing wrong in the actions and words in the video and song. If it were a self-mocking song, or an ironic song, or one that knowingly addressed the issues of wanting someone/thing you shouldn’t have, then I might not have the issues I have with it. I almost expect songs sung and written by male musicians to have some sort of misogyny in their songs; but not usually from a female musician-singer.