Over the past couple of years I’ve been taking a handful of CDs from my collection and having them in the car to listen to. The car is the only place where I can now play CDs so I decided to review everything and only keep the ones I’d want to play in the car.
It’s a journey I’m now nearly at the end of, and something I’d really recommend doing. (I’ve probably kept just under half of my collection and given the rest away.)
But that’s not the focus of my thoughts today. It’s on a much more personal level. And this is going to be a pretty personal article.
In my late teens and early twenties I was in a relationship with a musician who introduced me to rock/metal bands, a genre I’d not had any experience of previously. One of the bands I particularly enjoyed listening to was Whitesnake.
Listening again to those albums a few weeks ago I had a very uncomfortable realisation. The lyrics of many of those songs feature women as sex objects.
Well that’s not news, surely?
No, of course not.
But what I hadn’t previously recognised is that those lyrics subconsciously shaped my attitude to my own sexuality. Reflecting on that that time in my life I realise that I assumed I should be aiming to be seen as a sex object by the person I was in a committed relationship with. This was definitely not something that he had encouraged me to think, but I was listening to these songs so often that the language and descriptions of women were the main source of my understanding of my sexuality.
Even as I’m writing this I’m not sure why I’m sharing it. I rarely talk about such personal topics with anyone and yet I’m choosing to open up on this subject publicly.
I think that my reasoning is that I can’t be the only one affected in this way by the music I’ve listened to. There is intense focus on the potential for harm of the influence of the media and celebrities on people’s attitudes to their bodies both physically and sexually. The possibility for some genres of songs and their music videos to encourage, or at least normalise, violence again women is also often given attention.
But the affect of listening to song lyrics on negatively influencing how women see themselves? If that has been a concern then it’s one that’s passed me by.
If I had a daughter I would want to give her the skills to recognise the potential influences of the music she was listening to. Because music connects with us on such a deep level that we need to be aware of it’s power to change us in ways that we might not realise.