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 (P.S. Her new album is really good!) . 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.
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 romantic ballad “Best I Ever Had” by Drake that not only uses the F word 6 times in the chorus alone but covers oral sex in such detail that hookers are suing him for disclosing their trade secrets. Lest you think it’s just the men, Lady Gaga’s “Love Game”- a song that cutely name-checks the male anatomy that rhymes with “block” in a description of no-strings-attached sex – is number 6. Next on the list is Pitbull’s “I Know You Want Me”, another ode to anonymous sex that has the distinction of describing sex acts in two languages. I probably don’t need to add that Pitbull is not interested in the nameless “mami” for her intellect or ability to cook a souffle. But who needs talents when you have an “a$$ like a donkey”?
Hypocrite confession time: Pitbull is hands-down my favorite music to workout to. And I speak Spanish so I can’t even claim that I don’t understand what all he’s saying (although frankly the dude is so unsubtle, martians would show up to his concert with condoms). Lady Gaga? Saw her in concert and loved it. Yet, 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 sh*t 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. Even pregnant, 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? Are you a lyrics or music person? Anyone else suffer from the same inner conflict I do with workout music or do you just stick to musicals and NPR? (Side note: I cannot listen to “Wait, wait, don’t tell me” whilst exercising or I’ll fall off my treadmill laughing.)
PS> Speaking of body image issues – some of the fitosphere’s brightest luminaries (i.e. MizFit, Roni’s Weigh, MamaVision etc.) have launched a new body image website for women called We Are The Real Deal. Definitely check them out, they are one smart group of ladies and they have a lot of good things to say!