ColinOpinionHow society unfairly casts women and what we can do about it

Knowing all the things you know about Scarf Boy, the mental picture is pretty clear. He wears scarves, he loves choral music, he is here — he is queer, get used to it — and he has a lot of Cobber spirit. However, Scarf Boy was not as clear-cut as Concordia folks would have imagined. He played hockey for 7 years, he used to be blonde, he played Rolf in a community production of “The Sound of Music” — lederhosen and all — and he could spit all the words to “Low,” by Flo Rida. You know. “Shawty had them apple bottom jeans, boots with the fur. The whole club was looking at her. She hit the flo’. Next thing you know, shawty got low, low, low, low, low, low, low, low.” Compelling stuff.

Once, when Scarf Boy was called out by a classmate for knowing all these lyrics, he proudly acknowledged it as an accomplishment of epic proportions. Not many had mastered the incredibly rapid parts of this popular tune, so Scarf Boy was proud to count himself as one of the few, the proud, the Flo Rida enthusiasts. Words like “Imma say that I prefer them no clothes. I’m into that, I love women exposed. She threw it back at me, I gave her more. Cash ain’t a problem, I know where it goes!” came so rapidly, he never stopped to ponder what they actually meant.

Plot twist: I am still Scarf Boy, and I have transitioned to a time in my life when I do hate the “Blurred Lines.”

Song lyrics that are degrading to women are not exactly a new or infrequent occurrence. In fact, they are so commonplace that finding a song without them can actually become a challenge. When artists like Pharell promise to give women something big enough to tear their ass in two, or artists like Lady Gaga encourage men to do what they want with her body, we are conditioned to see women as nothing more than pleasure objects for men.

As a man who has never seen a woman as a pleasure object — eww — I have never felt compelled to agree with these types of messages. As a man, however, I have consistently reaped the benefits of the societal norms they perpetuate. My male privilege makes it so I do not associate my worth with my purity or my usefulness with my ability to suck a dick. As a man, I get to define my worth based on my worth.

This is not to say that men have it perfect; in fact, there are many ways in which men are exploited that deserve to be talked about. However, with any turn of the radio dial — or choice on a Spotify playlist — women are being told to define themselves based on how appealing they are to men. This gives the man all of the power and instructs the woman to find her place beside him.

While the journey of Scarf Boy had its fair share of struggle, he never felt objectified when he got “Low” with Flo Rida. The ability to recognize privilege gives us the chance to correct injustices on a large scale. When the media perpetuate these horrific messages, they only reach popularity with consumption. We, as consumers, must be conscious of the inequalities we are supporting with each and every song we play.

Colin Sullivan

My name is Colin Sullivan and I am currently a senior at Concordia College majoring in Psychology, Sociology, and Spanish. Along with my classes, I am the co-President of the Straight and Gay Alliance (SAGA) and also participate in Student Government Association (SGA), Cobber Forensics (Speech and Debate), and Choir. My passions reside within issues of social justice and critically analyzing the ways in which Concordia and society on the whole supports diversity initiatives. I long for an environment within which one's minority status does not pre-determine their likelihood for success. Some other random facts about me: I am a Pisces with an inability to digest gluten. I have a debilitating fear of clowns and public restrooms and refuse to ride bicycles. I am 100% Irish, a recovering scarf addict, and my speaking voice is as loud as the average yell. Please e-mail me at csulliva@cord.edu or tweet me @csulliva09 if you want to chat. I'd love to answer any questions you may have 🙂

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