It’s probably indicative of something pretty tragic in our culture that I actually find this song super refreshing, particularly as a corrective to Taylor Swift’s damsel in distress/knight in shining armor/Romeo and Juliet as romantic fairytale brand of shiny, regressive pop-country. As long as we’re going to have a misogynistic culture that teaches women that their desires are dirty and that they shouldn’t ever ask for what they want, can we at least also have songs that acknowledge that reality? I know that part of the reason I let boys treat me so badly as an adolescent (and, um, more recently than that) was because I felt like I would never be as pretty or pure as I needed to be to be loved, to be loveable, and I assumed I was the only one who felt that way. I get not wanting to hold it up as an ideal, and that younger girls might mistake what I take for tongue-in-cheek acknowledgement (“you’re a tool again / but you’re the one that I’ve chosen”) as an endorsement of staying up waiting to be called by a drunk guy, but quite honestly, I’d rather that than a generation which believes that romantic love is going to solve all of their problems.
Zan on Okay Cupid. Very tangentially related: last night at the that dog show I found myself thinking again about how different my brain would have been if my teenage years hadn’t coincided with a high point in the acceptance of women making all kinds of music. All kinds of music but, you know, especially music with honest, introspective, sometimes gross assessments of what really goes on in “romance.” In other words, I was thinking again about what kind of person I might have become had I not received that Bikini Kill I Like Fucking/I Hate Danger split 7” for my 15th birthday.
In a lot of that dog songs and a lot of songs in general the band is singing about how it feels to be powerless over a crush on someone who doesn’t care about you. But watching a bunch of rapt faces turned up towards a woman who is doing this joyfully and masterfully onstage makes it clear that this is actually a way of claiming power, not giving it away.
I remember a conversation I had with Kanye every time I sit down to write now. Every single time I sit down, I remember him asking, ‘What is it that you wanna say? It’s not about rhyming words, it’s about what you really wanna say.’ The fact that he wasn’t even looking at me when he said it—he was on the computer looking at naked girls, I think—it was just a life-changing experience.