Oh, to be a woman: songs that encapsulate the feelings of misogyny
May 4, 2023
To all the women and people who experience misogyny out there, you know the all consuming, pit-in-your-stomach type of pain that comes with growing up within the patriarchy’s claws. Being belittled in academic settings, called “crazy” by an ex-boyfriend who mistreated you, sexualized way too young by boys and men, realizing your worth is dependent upon your physical appearance… to list a few of the heart wrenching experiences most of us go through.
Through music, many women and people experiencing misogyny express their experiences with womanhood and/or patriarchal structures. Whether soft like Clairo’s “Blouse” or intense like the end of Lucy Dacus’ “Night Shift”, these songs carry a unique set of emotions specific to feelings of hopelessness, rage, longing, or despair.
Women & people who experience the range of emotions that come with loving a man (derogatory) know how it feels when their feelings are minimized and dismissed. They know how it feels to be called crazy for reacting to negative treatment. To long for someone who is emotionally unavailable, who takes advantage of their love. Lana Del Rey describes this feeling beautifully in her moody and melodramatic “Pretty When I Cry”. Del Rey has a multitude of music fitting for this theme, but this one is underrated so I felt the need to showcase it.
“I wait for you, babe//that’s all I do, babe//‘cuz I’m pretty when I cry” sings Del Rey in her slow, dreamy voice with a hint of longing. This line, the chorus, centralizes two main ideas that women and people face: being valued only for their beauty and committing to men more than they will ever in return.
In a similar vein, Mitski sings a powerful “First Love // Late Spring“, showcasing the inner struggles of first exposures to love at such young ages. “And I was so young when I behaved 25// and now I’ve found I’ve grown into a tall child” Mitski sings. This line speaks to the struggle of growing up as a woman, the way the patriarchy teaches everyone, including ourselves, to sexualize us. Throughout the power ballad, the music intensifies matching the pleading in Mitski’s tone as she sings “So please hurry leave me// I can’t breathe// please don’t say you love me”. Mitski writes about a feeling we may all understand, being in love and so terrified of the end.
When it comes to challenging gender norms within femininity, Florence + the Machine takes the cake. Although she provides many songs to choose from that emulate how misogyny feels, I chose “King”. “I am no mother, I am no bride, I am king” are the most explanatory and notable lyrics within the song. The patriarchal system we know and love reinforces the idea that women are meant to be caretakers and wives and mothers. We know this is not true, that the possibilities for women are as endless as any others. Florence + the Machine reminds us we do not have to fit in these slim gender roles. To take a step further, she suggests we do not even have to identify with being women.
As I mentioned earlier, women and feminine presenting people are subjected to ridiculous beauty standards. We learn at a young age that much of our perceived value is within our beauty. “Nothing New” by Taylor Swift and Phoebe Bridgers reminds me of that sentiment. Similarly to Lana Del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful”, the song expands on the deep-rooted, depressing feeling many women and people go through while aging. We are at our “peak” in our teenage and early twenties, according to society. So, aging and feeling like your worth is chipping away is frightening and difficult. As Taylor/Phoebe sing: “Will you still want me when I’m nothing new?” Women are so sexualized and fetishized in their youth that as we grow out of that time period, it feels like we have lost something that defined us.
To end on a positive note, here is a song that taps into the beautiful feminine energy we ALL have within us: “Female Energy Pt. 2″ by WILLOW. The music is beautiful and hypnotic while the lyrics speak of truth, humanity, and womanhood. Although the undertones of the song are a bit sad, the melody brings a lightness to the song that embodies femininity.
Here are a few more songs from my playlist that match this theme:
Writer in the Dark– Lorde
Paper Bag- Fiona Apple
Good Looking- Suki Waterhouse
Back to Black- Amy Winehouse
Doves in the Wind- SZA