Masculinity and Femininity in the Language of Music

Untitled-1You might remember that some time back, I wrote a blog post about music and the liberal feminist agenda that drives it.  If you don’t have time to read the original post, here’s the gist: in my struggle to put together a CD for my fiance for our six month anniversary, I realized that while there were ample love songs by male singers, there were barely any written by women.  On the contrary, most female singers dedicated their time to singing songs about anger-driven break-up antics or women’s “rightful” position over and against men.  Love songs were rare, and I was grasping at straws to accumulate enough songs to qualify as a proper mix of love songs.  While I have not abandoned my original opposition to the liberal feminist agenda in music, I have amended it somewhat.  I still maintain that the mainstream music industry is forcing female artists into a liberal feminist box, but I have also begun to suspect that there is a better explanation for why there are more love songs by men than women.

My revelations began as I was preparing for Valentine’s Day.  For the second time in a year, I was trying to put together a CD for Andrew as a gift.  We have very different tastes in music, so we occasionally put together CDs of some of our favorite music for the other to listen to.  The selected songs are generally meaningful, and new CDs are added to a playlist that we can use when we’re in the car together and want to listen to music.  Considering how different our music tastes are, this has been a very beneficial solution to the problem of music on long car rides when we can’t agree on a music station.  If you and your significant other have different music tastes like we do, this might be a solution you’ll want to consider.

This time around, I had already learned my lesson.  I wasn’t even going to look for music written by female artists.  It had been a headache the first time around, and I just didn’t have the time or energy to search for love songs written by women that I also enjoyed.  Instead, I just chose some of my favorite love songs, regardless of gender.  In the end, out of the 15 songs chosen for the CD, 14 of them belonged to male singers (the one exception was “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri).  Instead of dwelling of my lack of female representation, I moved onto the next step of my Valentine’s Day gift.  In addition to giving Andrew the CD, I also chose some of my favorite lines from the songs and explained why I chose them.  As I reflected on the lyrics, I found that the words came easily to me, easier even than the first time around.  I was amazed.

RoseI had originally thought that the task would be more difficult this time around, seeing as I would not be reflecting on words that came from a woman’s perspective.  Instead, I would be reflecting on songs written by men about the women that they loved.  But instead of struggling for words, they flowed easily and before I knew it, I had finished reflecting on every song.  By then, it was around 1AM, and I sealed the envelope and prepared for bed.  Massive task accomplished, I was looking forward to sweet dreams.

As I lay awake waiting for sleep to come, I found myself wondering at my recent experience.  Why had the words come so easily this time around?  And then it came to me.  The words had already been on my heart, and I had even expressed some of my thoughts to Andrew before.  Instead of trying to explain why I loved Andrew (which is surprisingly different to do when there are just so many things that need to be said), I was writing about how he made me feel.  Instead of focusing on what I thought about him, I focused on how he made me feel.  And I have always been good at writing about how Andrew makes me feel.

Instead of explaining why I love Andrew, I wrote about how he makes me feel loved.  I affirmed the love that he has shown me.  How he makes me feel wanted, loved.  How he makes me laugh and lets me be myself.  How he loves me despite my ups and downs.  There are countless reasons why I love him, but none of them come from me (besides the obvious fact that I choose to love him).  They come from him.  I love him for who he is and how he loves me.  He shows me his love in so many different ways, and the best way that I know how to show him how much I love him is by receiving that love that he gives me and affirming it.

But what does that have to do with the nature of love songs?  As I reflected on the music, I realized that there’s a reason that most love songs are written by men.  Men sings songs about how they love their girlfriends, fiances, and wives.  They sing about their beginnings, their journey, and the life that they will share together.  They sing about their beloved, praising her beauty and her goodness.  They sing about their faithfulness, their dedication to the family that their love has created.  They sing about the love that they have given their beloved.  That’s why men write such good love songs.

And women?  What are we supposed to do?  Women receive that love, and they return that love by affirming and giving thanks for what they have been given.  They show their husbands, fiances, and boyfriends that they are grateful for the love that they have been given, and they offer their love in return.  But it’s harder to put that into words.  It’s harder to write songs about that kind of love.  And I think that’s why when women do write love songs, they write about the actions of their Prince Charming, how they were pursued and wooed and fell in love.  I think that’s why women write stories in their songs, if they write songs at all.  Because more often than not, they don’t write anything at all.

HeartSo in a word, why are there more love songs by men?  Because they want to show their love by serenading their beloved, by writing songs about their love.  Maybe women just don’t feel as strong a desire to write love songs when all they really want to do is listen to them.  When all they really want is to be serenaded by their lover, to fall into his arms and know how loved she is.  But maybe she should write about that, and give the radical feminist agenda a run for its money.  I would certainly enjoy listening to women singing about their love story than their dislike of men.

Mary Help of Christians, pray for us!

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