Monday, November 7, 2011

Boys, Music, Rape - the Usual Suspects

I babysit two absolutely lovely boys, aged eight and ten. (The older one has been my “boyfriend” for a number of years now.) Their parents are also very sweet people who. I know the family through synagogue and from around the neighborhood. They try really hard to observe halakha (Jewish law), and send their boys to an Orthodox school. (The fact that I’m willing to babysit for them is a testament to how great these two kids are, because I’m really picky about my clients.)

The last time I was babysitting them, one of the boys was messing around on his dad’s iPad and playing music. His first choice was Ke$ha’s “Crazy Beautiful Life.” His second was Katy Perry’s ET. I asked if his parents mind if he listens to that music, and he said that the only reason he doesn’t usually play it out loud is because his mom is in the yearlong mourning period and can’t listen to music.

It kinda surprised me that his choices were those particular artists and songs. I know a lot of people don’t understand my problem with Ke$ha, but I’m sticking to my guns here. A lot of her stuff has sexual overtones or are downright explicit. Right now I’m thinking of “And they turn me on / when they take it off / when they take it off / everybody take it off” and “Just turn around boy and let me hit that / Don’t be a little b***h with your chit chat / Just show me where your d**k’s at,” among many other Ke$ha lyrics. In “Crazy Beautiful Life,” she uses the word douche in the chorus, as well as the b word and s word, and talks about being high. It’s just not appropriate for little kids. Yes, I know they can hear those words and worse on television, especially cable, but curb it where you can, you know?


I find the fact that they were listening to “ET” absolutely unacceptable, though. The song, as stated in several feminist blogs, is a violent rape fantasy. Katy says in the chorus “Kiss me, kiss me / Infect me with your love and / Fill me with your poison / Take me, take me / Wanna be your victim / Ready for abduction.” It’s not like it’s hard to understand or anything. The lyrics are blatant. Then Kanye West comes in and raps! Surprising that a guy who enjoys raping dead white women would collaborate on a song like this, huh? Well, he does, stating that “Imma disrobe you / Then Imma probe you / See I’ve abducted you / So I’ll tell you what to do.” Again, completely blatant. No double entendres or sexual innuendos here. Katy and Kanye like telling it like it is, apparently.

And so, I think that anyone with any sense of appropriateness will agree with me that this song is completely not anywhere near the realm of okay for children. Two young boys, listening to a woman say how she wants to be raped and hearing a man describe how to rape her? I’m sorry, that doesn’t jibe with me. I know the nuances of the song are totally lost on kids that little, and they probably don’t listen to it that hard and don’t understand it if they do, but it’s still in their heads. I know that I’ve still got songs stuck in my head that I listened to when I was their age and haven’t heard since. What a way to raise future feminists!

It’s not their parents’ fault, since they weren’t home when they were playing these songs. However, the incident still really bothered me. I know people will think I’m overreacting to this and say that I’m making a big deal over nothing, but I really think this is an issue. There are links between violent, sexualized video games to murder and other violent physical crimes. I don’t know of any identified link between music with violent descriptions to crime, but is it so far-fetched? I really don’t think so.

It’s absolutely crazy, to be honest. There are hundreds of great organizations out there that are working to change this, but it’s still the reality women and men face. It certainly has to be changed.


  1. Katy Perry's "ET" genuinely terrifies me. While I'm pretty adventurous in the bedroom and have had my fair share of dominance/submissive fantasies, it's a really triggering song as someone who's also experienced sexual abuse. There is a huge difference between the fantasy and where it goes too far. The song just brings up really bad memories where I had no control, and someone did take advantage of me just because I was "theirs." The song is an assault itself when it comes on the radio or at a party and I have to listen to Kanye's part especially. I think Katy can get away with her parts, but Kanye really reinforces that yes, this song is about a fantasy rape. And if people have that fantasy, then I'm not going to judge. But I don't really think it's fair to put that in a song to be played to millions of people and be all "lulz it's sexi!" because it's actually really scary and it can be difficult in this case to separate fantasy and reality.

  2. I totally agree. I look forward to the day that songs like this aren't on the radio.