Exceptional is not an excuse for misogyny

After reading AntiSocial Butterfly’s post on Necrocentrism, it got me thinking about other pop culture references to misogyny and femicide.

Critique of the modern music-videos would be like shooting fish in a barrel, so my mind wandered further afield. Back to Ye Olden Days.

My mind wandered to the The Beatles, aka “the fab four”, although nothing to do with FAABs! I will out myself as a long time Beatles fan. And old.

Whilst most of their songs, particularly the early ones, were fairly light and fluffy, with tweenties angst of “love love love” and romantic hardships, two songs from the Lennon-McCartney stable have a deeply misogynist/femicidal theme.

Run For Your Life (Rubber Soul, 1965)

Well I’d rather see you dead, little girl
Than to be with another man
You better keep your head, little girl
Or I won’t know where I am

You better run for your life if you can, little girl
Hide your head in the sand little girl
Catch you with another man
That’s the end’a little girl

Well you know that I’m a wicked guy
And I was born with a jealous mind
And I can’t spend my whole life
Trying just to make you toe the line

You better run for your life if you can, little girl
Hide your head in the sand little girl
Catch you with another man
That’s the end’a little girl

Let this be a sermon
I mean everything I’ve said
Baby, I’m determined
And I’d rather see you dead

You better run for your life if you can, little girl
Hide your head in the sand little girl
Catch you with another man
That’s the end’a little girl

I’d rather see you dead, little girl
Than to be with another man
You better keep your head, little girl
Or you won’t know where I am

You better run for your life if you can, little girl
Hide your head in the sand little girl
Catch you with another man
That’s the end’a little girl
Na, na, na
Na, na, na
Na, na, na
Na, na, na

Maxwell’s Silver Hammer (Abbey Road, 1969)

Joan was quizzical; Studied pataphysical
Science in the home.
Late nights all alone with a test tube.
Oh, oh, oh, oh.

Maxwell Edison, majoring in medicine,
Calls her on the phone.
“Can I take you out to the pictures,
Joa, oa, oa, oan?”

But as she’s getting ready to go,
A knock comes on the door.

Bang! Bang! Maxwell’s silver hammer
Came down upon her head.
Clang! Clang! Maxwell’s silver hammer
Made sure that she was dead.

Back in school again Maxwell plays the fool again.
Teacher gets annoyed.
Wishing to avoid an unpleasant
Sce, e, e, ene,

She tells Max to stay when the class has gone away,
So he waits behind
Writing fifty times “I must not be
So, o, o, o..”

But when she turns her back on the boy,
He creeps up from behind.

Bang! Bang! Maxwell’s silver hammer
Came down upon her head.
Clang! Clang! Maxwell’s silver hammer
Made sure that She was dead.

P. C. Thirty-one said, “We’ve caught a dirty one.”
Maxwell stands alone
Painting testimonial pictures.
Oh, oh, oh, oh.

Rose and Valerie, screaming from the gallery
Say he must go free
(Maxwell must go free)
The judge does not agree and he tells them
So, o, o, o.

But as the words are leaving his lips,
A noise comes from behind.

Bang! Bang! Maxwell’s silver hammer
Came down upon his head.
Clang! Clang! Maxwell’s silver hammer
Made sure that he was dead.

Silver Hammer Ma, a, an.

Run For Your Life was primarily the authorship of Lennon, Maxwell’s Silver Hammer was authored by McCartney.

Lennon did later regret penning Run For Your Life, declaring in 1973 that it was his “least favourite Beatle’s song”. It was also at one time, Harrison’s favourite song of the album. Whatever the song’s musical attributes, it is clearly misogynist and femicidal. According to the wikipedia article on Run For Your Life, Lennon’s later solo work Jealous Guy, supposedly “would revisit this theme in a more apologetic fashion”. Sadly, from the feminist point of view, this is also a fail, primarily because the song comes off as making excuses (and not taking real responsibility) for domestic violence. It is clearly too, the “honeymoon phase” of (empty) apologies during the domestic violence cycle. Lyrics below.

McCartney was still defending Maxwell’s Silver Hammer many years later (1994, 2005), claiming it “dealt with matters of fate in a kind of comical, parody manner”. Whilst the song does have one male victim of Maxwell’s Silver Hammer, and two female victims, there is an important difference between the female vs male victims. The first victim Joan, had agreed to go out with Maxwell, and he strikes her dead for no reason at all. The female teacher merely tries to enforce a fairly mild punishment (writing 50 lines) for his acting up in class. The third victim, the male judge, is about to pass sentence on Maxwell (a more serious application of authority than the teacher was doing) and gets struck down before he can do so. Note that also in the court room, Maxwell has two female fans demanding that he should go free, even though he has just killed two other women. This song is not about “fate” at all, but a misogynistic psychopath who refuses to be punished for his femicidal actions.

Jealous Guy Lyrics (Imagine, 1973)

I was dreaming of the past
And my heart was beating fast
I began to lose control
I began to lose control

I didn’t mean to hurt you
I’m sorry that I made you cry
Oh no, I didn’t want to hurt you
I’m just a jealous guy

I was feeling insecure
You might not love me anymore
I was shivering inside
I was shivering inside

I didn’t mean to hurt you
I’m sorry that I made you cry
Oh no, I didn’t want to hurt you
I’m just a jealous guy

I didn’t mean to hurt you
I’m sorry that I made you cry
Oh no, I didn’t want to hurt you
I’m just a jealous guy

I was trying to catch your eyes
Thought that you was trying to hide
I was swallowing my pain
I was swallowing my pain

I didn’t mean to hurt you
I’m sorry that I made you cry
Oh no, I didn’t want to hurt you
I’m just a jealous guy, watch out
I’m just a jealous guy, look out babe
I’m just a jealous guy

I really did not have any great summation in mind. Other than misogyny and femicide have occurred in popular culture in the past, it is not a new phenomenon.

7 thoughts on “Exceptional is not an excuse for misogyny

  1. noanodyne

    YAY! FAB Libber has a blog!!!!!!! You’re going on my blog list as soon as I finish this comment.

    This is such a smart connection between the concept Aileen is talking about and clear, but always overlooked, examples. And choosing the Beatles is perfect. I remember completely getting the intent of “Run for Your Life” even as a little girl. I’m absolutely positive that it was just one more brick in the wall that made me know for absolutely certain that I did not want to be female. It’s so important to keep calling these things out because of course, the hatred of girls and women continues apace.

    Like

    Reply
    1. FAB Libber

      Thanks Noanodyne. Certainly for me it registered (Run For Your Life) but not the full implication of it, it is a bloody catchy tune!

      Please DON’T add me to the blogroll, I want to stay quite stealthy. I cannot be arsed dealing with the riff raff. Most of the radfems will find their way here anyway, I was a bit shocked to check the stats (up from a mere 12 earlier today) to over 80 (wtf?!). So, the word seemed quick to get around. Certainly does not need any additional promotion.

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      1. FAB Libber

        No. I have search engines blocked. Bot-free zone.

        Mind you, it could be the same three people visiting 25-odd times each?

        Like

  2. veganprimate

    I have my blog blocked to search engines, too. It’s not foolproof, and I’ll tell you why. There are people (trannies, fun-fems, anti-feminists, plain ol’ men) who lurk and read at radfem blogs. So, although you linked to your blog so your awesome radfem cohorts could read it, all the lurking assholes will come over and read, too. If they read something offensive, they’ll go spread it to other blogs, facebook, twitter, etc. Then your hits go up. If you don’t allow comments (like I don’t), then at least you don’t have to read their stupid spewings, although you’ll know they’re there. One time (when I still had comments enabled) I had a post entitled “Why Women Rock.” I specifically said, “No comments about how women are just as bad as men, no Sad Sack stories about how some woman fucked you over, etc.” I got a shitload of just exactly those types of comments. There’s a spot on your dashboard where it’ll tell you if someone clicked a link somewhere to get to your blog. Apparently, someone had announced my post on reddit (whatever the fuck that is), and all the MRA crybabies came out in full force to tell me their tale of woe.

    Just don’t google yourself. I did it a few times, and I was like, “WTF?” It’s better not to know what other people are saying about you.

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    Reply
    1. FAB Libber

      Good advice, I won’t be googling myself.
      You could be right about the peanut gallery. I guess I could make it invite-only.

      Like

      Reply

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