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Media, Communications & Trends

Becoming Media Literate

Have you ever tried to reverse genders in a song? Replace “he” with “she”? Yet this is suggested by the Willy Test : you have to replace genders in songs to show gender differences, sexism or misogyny. So I tried to do this test on three  current popular songs. I tried to learn by doing this test that could hide behind the lyrics of these songs. Most of the time, people listen to and appreciate songs for their melody or rythm rather than for the mean of words. But when focusing on lyrics, this can become very interesting ! Lets do it !

I decided to do the test on three songs by three different artists :  I’m A Slave 4 U by Britney Spears, Sexy Chick by David Guetta Feat Akon and Run The World by Beyonce. I did not randomly selected these songs. First, I chose them because they are famous. But also because when I listened to them for the fisrt time, I was surprised or shocked. I chose them because even without having done the  Willy test, I knew they conveyed or defended gender stereotypes.

Britney Spears – I’m A Slave 4 U

I know I may be young, but I’ve got feelings too.
And I need to do what I feel like doing.
So let me go and just listen.
All you people look at me like I’m a little girl.
Well did you ever think it be okay for me to step into this world.
Always saying little girl don’t step into the club.
Well I’m just tryin’ to find out why cause dancing?s what I love.
Get it get it, get it get it (Whoa)
Get it get it, get it get it (Whoa)(Do you like it)
Get it get it, get it get it (Oh)(This feels good)
I know I may come off quiet, I may come off shy.
But I feel like talking, feel like dancing when I see this guy.
What’s practical is logical. What the hell, who cares?
All I know is I’m so happy when you’re dancing there.
I’m a slave for you. I cannot hold it, I cannot control it.
I’m a slave for you. I won’t deny it, I’m not trying to hide it.
Baby, don’t you want to, dance upon me,
(I just want to dance next to you)
To another time and place.
Baby, don’t you want to, dance upon me,
(Are you ready)
Leaving behind my name, my age.
(Lets go)
(Like that)
(You like it)
(Now watch me)
Get it get it, get it get it (Whoa)
Get it get it, get it get it (Whoa)
Get it get it, get it get it (Oh)
I really want to dance, tonight with you.
(I just can’t help myself)
I really want to do what you want me to.
(I just feel I let myself go)
I really want to dance, tonight with you.
(Wanna see you move)
I really want to do what you want me to.
(Uh Uh Uh)
Baby, don’t you want to, dance upon me,
(I just want to dance next to you)
To another time and place.
Baby, don’t you want to, dance upon me,
(Are you ready)
Leaving behind my name, my age.
I’m a slave for you. (Take that) I cannot hold it, I cannot control it.
I’m a slave (It just feels right) for you. (It just feels good)
I won’t deny it, I’m not trying to hide it. (Baby)
Get it get it, get it get it (Whoa)
Get it get it, get it get it (Whoa)
Get it get it, get it get it (Oh)
Get it get it, get it get it (Whoa)
Get it get it, get it get it (Whoa)
Get it get it, get it get it (Oh)
I’m a slave for you. (Here we go now)
I cannot hold it, I cannot control it.
I’m a slave for you. (Here we go) I won’t deny it, (Yeah)
I’m not trying to hide it.

First, I selected  I’m A Slave 4 U, sung by Britney Spears. This song has shocked some people because in the dance clip, Britney Spears is pretty provocative when she is dancing and she is dancing  in very sexual way. The lyrics speak of a young girl who wants to be treated no more as a little girl but as a young women who wants to dance and get into bars. Especially for dancing with a boy and be guided entirely by him. Hence the title of the song. Moreover it is not a love song but a seduction song. It is interesting to reverse genders in this song because you can see a young man could have said the same thing, he wants independence and wants to live his life. However, I do not know if the sexual part could be sung by a man. Here, the song for me is indicative of a strong stereotype of women would be willing to become a slave in offering his body completely for sex, without controlling anything.

David Guetta Feat Akon – Sexy Chick

Yes I can see her
Cause every girl in here wonna be her
Oh shes a diva
I feel the same and I wonna meet her
They say she low down
Its just a rumor and I don’t believe em
They say she needs to slow down
The baddest thing around town
She’s nothing like a girl you’ve ever seen before
Nothing you can compare to your neighbourhood hoe
I’m tryna find the words to describe this girl without being disrespectful
The way that booty movin I can’t take no more
Have to stop what i’m doin so I can pull up close
I’m tryna find the words to describe this girl without being disrespectful
Dam girl
Dam you’se a sexy bitch
A sexy bitch
Dam you’se a sexy bitch
Dam girl
Dam you’se a sexy bitch
A sexy bitch
Dam you’se a sexy bitch
Dam girl
Yes I can see her
Cause every girl in here wonna be her
Oh shes a diva
I feel the same and I wonna meet her
They say she low down
Its just a rumor and I don’t believe em
They say she needs to slow down
The baddest thing around town
She’s nothing like a girl you’ve ever seen before
Nothing you can compare to your neighbourhood hoe
I’m tryna find the words to describe this girl without being disrespectful
The way that booty movin I can’t take no more
Have to stop what i’m doin so I can pull up close
I’m tryna find the words to describe this girl without being disrespectful
Dam girl
Dam you’se a sexy bitch
A sexy bitch
Dam you’se a sexy bitch
Dam girl

The second song Sexy Chick is a very famous song, right now. You should know that the original title of the song was changed in the United States because it was perceived as insulting and sexist. However, it is very easy to understand that instead of “chick” this is “bitch”. Besides, I found that replacing a word phonetically similar by another emphasizes this word and thus retains more the listener’s attention instead of not do it. In short, this song is for me just as revealing of gender stereotypes. Here, the woman is returned to its sexual function. She seems to be a bait, a pretty piece of cake in a showcase that men would taste at all costs. The title emphasizes the fact that women are sexual objects. And it is really weird because in this song, the singer says that he won’t to insult the girl “ I’m tryna find the words to describe this girl without being disrespectful” but during the chorus he just insults her in using a kind of oxymore “sexy chick -bitch-”.  Imagine for a second to do the Willy test on this song, you will find that it would be too strange. A woman could not sing a song like this and talking to a guy in this way. Whereas today, this song does not seem to shock and it is played in every night clubs. Moreover, this weekend I observed in a night club that girls love to dancing on the words that insult them. Maybe they will not listen lyrics and just only the instruments !

Beyonce – Run The World

Girls, we run this motha (yeah!)
GIRLS!
Who run the world? Girls!
Who run this motha? Girls!
Who run the world? Girls!
Some of them men think they freak this like we do
But no they don’t
Make your cheques come at they neck,
Disrespect us no they won’t
Boy don’t even try to touch this
Boy this beat is crazy
This is how they made me
Houston, Texas baby
This goes out to all my girls
That’s in the club rocking the latest
Who will buy it for themselves and get more money later
I think I need a barber
None of these ** can fade me
Im so good with this,
I remind you im so hood with this
Boy im just playing, come here baby
Hope you still like me, ** pay me
My persuasion can build a nation
Endless power, our love we can devour
You’ll do anything for me
Who run the world? Girls!
Who run this motha? Girls!
Who run the world? Girls!
It’s hot up in here
DJ don’t be scared to run this, run this back
I’m repping for the girls who taking over the world
Have me raise a glass for the college grads
Anyone rolling I’ll let you know what time it is
You can’t hold me
I broke my 9 to 5 and copped my cheque

This goes out to all the women getting it in,
Get on your grind
To the other men that respect what I do
Please accept my shine
Boy you know you love it
How we’re smart enough to make these millions
Strong enough to bare the children
Then get back to business
See, you better not play me
Don’t come here baby
Hope you still like me
** pay me!
My persuasion can build a nation
Endless power
Our love we can devour
You’ll do anything for me
Who run the world? Girls!
Who run this motha? Girls!
Who run the world? Girls!
Who are we?
What we run?
The world!


The last song Run The World is a hope in this so stereotyped world of music. This Beyonce song is for me a step forward because this song is feminist and telling women to take control of their world and not be dominated by men.  Although much effort has been done by governments and that mores are evolving gradually, there is still a long way to go before the time that housework is shared equitably, that women’s wages are equal to men for a same work performed and that women are no longer considered only as a sex objects flesh but also as beings to love. For indeed, the most of time and overhall, men sing songs on the body and the physical attractiveness of women, and women sing on their romantic love and spiritual attraction that they have for men. So I think that popular music has to change to be less stereotyped and more progressive !

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