Rihanna’s “Rude Boy” belongs under one category: the Trash!

When I was in High school, I had the kind of mother that played her music in the car: Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennet, Schubert, and Beethoven, to name a few, but you get the point. It was the kind of music that represented style, talent, and real artistry. It was definitely not this crap that gets dished out to the public and that the public in turn swallows in fistfuls with the complacency of drones. But let’s face it. With the exception of Harry Connick Jr., artists such are these are old school, and consumers under thirty-five don’t rush their fingers all over their iPhones or Blackberry’s to download their music onto their iTunes library. Instead they rush out to download drivel, like Rihanna’s “Rude Boy.”

I’m the kind of mom that listens to current music. The windows in my car are all down, my sun roof is open, and my radio blasts the voices of Fray, Carolina Liar, The Veronicas, Pink, Joss Stone, Kelly Clarkson, and most of today’s current pop stars. But when Rihanna’s  dirty and nasty “Rude Boy” lyrics crash through the child-proof spaces of my car, polluting my children’s senses, I turn her off with great repulsion. What repulses me about this song is that it reduces her – the woman, the artist – to a sexual object. In her video, she is dressed like a prostitute, moving her hips and legs seductively, puckering her lips in oral sex fashion at the male viewers of her video – only men would find her slithering slime sexy.  Only men would find her lyrics inoffensive and a challenge to prove her wrong. Here is the Chorus, and I’m trying very hard to look past the horrific grammar, also:

Come here, rude boy, boy; can you get it up?
Come here rude boy, boy; is you big enough?
Take it, take it baby, baby
Take it, take it; love me, love me

What is even more offensive to me is the next stanza:

Tonight I’ma let you be a rider
Giddy-up, giddy-up, giddy-up babe
Tonight I’ma let it be fire
Tonight I’ma let you take me higher
Tonight, baby, we could get it on, yeah, we could get it on, yeah

“Giddy-up”? What the hell is that all about? If he’s the rider, then she is a horse?

Women are not whores. Women are not the size of their breasts, the size of their butts, or the kind of sex they like to have.  Women are not animals to be mounted and ridden by “captains.” Women are not here to provide men with erotic fantasies they cannot derive from their wives or girlfriends. Women were not created to provide physical pleasure for men. There was a time when women were revered and worshiped. Men sculpted female deities out of clay and fell, like supplicants, to their knees in prayer, not in lust. But all that has ceased, and no one remembers. Today, women– at least, as the media portrays them– exist only to supply visual and physical pleasure for men. They are second-class citizens, their own desires dimly lit and unrealized. Today, if women want the money, power, and fame that men can get with ease, they need to undress, surgically remove evidence of fat and age, and sex themselves up.

Example: Rihanna. What Rihanna does not get is that, by making these songs and videos, she is reinforcing the social construct of women as sex objects, as commodities, as secondary to men. She doesn’t get this because she is young and naive, and it doesn’t help matters that she is getting filthy rich by producing music and lyrics that not only degrade the English language, but also degrade her and all women. She is beautiful and sexy and talented, but if she had one brain cell in her head she would realize that the one that has the talent has the power – not the men behind the desks, behind the labels, that promise her fame. They are interchangeable – not her. She does not have to sell herself that hard, parading her sex without agency or self-respect for the pleasure of her male fans between the ages  of 11 and 35.

It is disgusting that we live in a society that thinks it is OK for lyrics with such intense and vile sexual content be distributed to our youth – our girls and our boys – because the girls begin to believe that they have to act this way to get the boy – and the boys believe that it is OK to treat girls like sexual content. It is not OK. It is disturbing. And this kind of media cannot be looked upon as harmless entertainment because it is not harmless. The way we depict women and young girls is shameful, degrading, and harmful. It’s as shameful as our complacency because we think nothing of it.

What do you think? Too much?

Feminist Gaze: Rihanna’s “Rude Boy”

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