Fighting with the Sky

No One Can Be Perfect 100% of the Time

Posted on: August 17, 2009

With the introduction of Sing-A-Long Saturday, I have been thinking a lot about the music that I listen to. Most of the time when I listen to music, I am in my car and it is usually the radio. In Grand Rapids, there aren’t too many radio stations, so I usually land on one of two stations that play popular music. I listen to these stations a lot so I’m fairly familiar with the songs that they play, even to the point that I know the words to most of the regularly played songs.

But because these stations play popular music, a lot of the songs that I know the words to reinforce gender stereotypes and/or are just plain offensive to women. But I still enjoy listening to these stations and a lot of the music that they play. Thinking about this, I went into my iTunes library to look at my top 25 most played songs. I was kind of surprised (but kind of not, don’t judge me…) that the most played song* was “Don’t Trust Me” by 3oh!3.

I actually enjoy this song (as well as many similar songs) despite its offensive lyrics to oh so many groups of people. I think it’s catchy and has a good beat. But this doesn’t excuse the lyrics that tell us to “do the Helen Keller and talk with our hips,” that promote violence against women, etc.

So how can I like this song (and songs like it) with the feminist values that I have? I could say that I like to dance and this song has a good dance beat. But then why can I sing along with the entire song? I could say my interest in pop culture makes me want to know what is popular in the world of music (“Don’t Trust Me” has been topping the charts for a while). But I don’t really think that holds either.

So what is it then? I think it comes down to no one can be perfect all the time (I’m not intending to say that I am perfect at other times, because no one is). In a society that promotes sexism, racism, homophobia, ableism, transphobia, ageism…and all other -isms, it is hard to always 100% uphold your feminist beliefs in the activities you partake in. There is always going to be something that you do that does not 100% align with your feminist beliefs. It’s impossible to do in a society like ours.

And all I can say is, at least I’m aware that my taste in music is at some times problematic, my preference in movies and tv shows is definitely problematic at times, etc. I am always trying to analyze how I fit into the patriarchal society and part of that is looking at my investments in pop culture.

So for all you feminists out there that have problems reconciling some of your activities or investments in pop culture, just remember that while none of us can be perfect 100% of the time. And being aware of these problematic investments is one step ahead of many people. I’m going to keep analyzing my problematic investments in pop culture and society as a way to strengthen my feminist beliefs.

*This probably doesn’t excuse it, but it is important to note that my harddrive had to be replaced, thus wiping my iTunes library clean, this past January. So this is the most played song since January and I do a lot of my music listening in my car (both cd and radio).

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2 Responses to "No One Can Be Perfect 100% of the Time"

I am ALWAYS saying to people that your entire life cannot be a cause. Sometimes you have to just let it go and enjoy what you've got, regardless of how it goes against your principles.This also is interesting to think about in relation to my vegetarianism post from today. You're right, and I should take my own advice. Just because it's a good cause doesn't mean I need to do it 100% of the time. So thanks!

I agree. No one is a "perfect" feminist, if for no other reason because people don't agree on what is or isn't feminist or anti-feminist, sexist, etc. But everyone makes concessions. For some, that may be wearing make-up, for others it may be listening to sexist music or watching tv shows that reinforce patriarchal notions. We each decide where we draw the line, what we will not do under any circumstance, and what we can let go. For me, that's watching some not so great tv and listening to some really horrible rap and r&b (though sometimes under the guide of "research"). Whether it's about feminism, vegetarianism, or any other politics in life, we all decide what we can live with.

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