If I’m being totally honest, I can probably think of many ways that I am hypocritical (for example, I simultaneously hate global warming and love air conditioning) but the one that is niggling most at my conscience is music.
I know, I know, in a world where children are dying in sweat shops & I still buy sandals at Wal-Mart, I choose music to get really worked up about. But here’s my problem – I love music. All kinds of music (my two favorite genres are Punk/Emo, like AFI or My Chemical Romance, and anti-folk like Joshua Radin and Regina Spektor) . And I cannot get through a workout without it. The worst part of running long races for me isn’t the hills or the heat or the surprise Gatorade on the water table (try throwing that over your head) but the fact that I can’t use my MP3 player. And let’s face it, classes like BodyPump, Hip Hop Hustle and my beloved Turbokick are defined by their great music. Music, I might add, that offers to “fold me like a pornography poster” right after rapping a list of sexual positions that would make the Kama Sutra take notes.
I’m a Hoochie Trapped in a Feminist’s Body
That song (that you are now undoubtedly singing in your head, you’re welcome) is “Low” by Flo Rida. It is not some obscure rap song purchased only by pimply, Penthouse-hiding adolescent boys; “Low” hit number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 list. It is played on almost every radio station in the country. And it is all about using a female sex worker (stripper? prostitute?) to fulfill every male sexual fantasy. But hey, “that shorty, she was worth the money.” At least he’s frugal. I know I hate it when I get a dud hooker.
Think that’s the exception? Check out the current Billboard Top 100. Number 2 is the innocuous-sounding “Lollipop” by Lil Wayne that covers oral sex in such detail that hookers are suing him for disclosing their trade secrets. I probably don’t need to add that Lil Wayne is not interested in the nameless shorty for her intellect or ability to cook a souffle. But who needs talents when you have mad blow-job skills? Number 4 is Usher’s Love in the Club. Number 6 is Ray J’s Sexy Can I. If all you knew about women was what you heard on the top ten you’d think all of us were horny, T&A popping, sex toys. We’re either strippers, prostitutes or wanna-be porn stars. We’re bought (cheaply) with drugs, booze, and fancy cars. And all we do with our time is grind on the dance floor until some man throws us over his shoulder and takes us home (or possibly, just to his car).
Turbo Jennie is in a unique position to comment on my quandry. A middle school health teacher by day, she facilitates the Young Women’s Leadership Forum. By night she teaches TurboKick and Hip Hop Hustle – grooving to the same songs that she dissects with her teen-aged students. Oh, and did I mention she has a minor in Women’s Studies? If anyone could understand my inner conflict it would be her.
Jennie says, “I find myself frequently turning the channel when I find lyrics too offensive and the offensive shit that the radio gets away with playing is shocking. A song like Low is pretty tame compared to some of the stuff I hear on the radio. I’ve had to learn to take songs at face value and listen to them strictly for the beat/fun workout tune and that it is. This is an issue that I think is so relevant and one I know would piss me off even more if I watched music videos, which I don’t.”
Other students (victims?) of my totally unrandom polling echoed her sentiments by saying that they usually don’t listen to the lyrics, just the beat. All of them seemed shocked when I repeated the lyrics for them. But then speaking the lyrics sounds a whole lot worse than rapping them. Too bad I can’t rap;)
Tonight’s my hip-hop class. I love it. Actually, I LOVE it. So I’ll be there. Grooving to the beat and trying not to listen to the lyrics. Like Jennie says, “[It] wouldn’t be the same if I popped in Celine Dion or Maroon 5. Besides Justin Timberlake’s only got 4 minutes to save the world! We must help him!!”
So now I have to know – What’s on your iPod?