The #metoo rallying cry against sexual harassment and abuse showed us nothing we don’t know. Harassment of women is almost a universal experience. And abuse culture is entrenched across borders and continents.
Abuse culture is not focused on incidents, but the normalisation of the mistreatment of women. If we want examples, we need look no further than popular culture. Examples are all around us, in movies and television or in advertising.
And of course, in music. Rape and harassment culture is so pervasive, we even sing along to the lyrics.
Here’s five hit songs that are actually really creepy. These songs, written mostly in the male voice, depict some seriously disturbing relationships. If the woman concerned had a voice, they might say #metoo.
#5 Jealous Guy: John Lennon
This might appear to be a poor guy pouring out his heart and confessing to having a jealous streak. But, the lyrics are dark and worrying:
I began to lose control I didn’t mean to hurt you
There’s reference to his dreaming of the past, alluding to her sexual or romantic pasts, which is behaviour many women know as a warning sign for controlling behaviour. While this is a song of apology, he excuses his behaviour, putting it back on his partner, saying “You might not love me anymore” and “Thought that you was trying to hide”. And finally, the ultimate warning that his irrational behaviour won’t change:
Watch out baby I’m just a jealous guy Look out baby I’m just a jealous guy
Listen: We discuss whether the #MeToo campaign is doing more harm than good. (Post continues after audio.)
The story behind Lennon’s hit song is mysterious. It was once thought to be intellectual jealousy about Yoko Ono’s bilingual abilities, her inhabiting a linguistic space that excluded him. Paul McCartney once said it might have stemmed from jealousies within the Beatles. But most worrying, Yoko Ono once said that Lennon asked her to write the names of her past lovers and was obsessed with the idea that she might run off with someone else. We’ll never know the real story behind Lennon’s lyrics, but for many women it depicts an all-too-familiar story with some grave warning signs.
#4 Where the Wild Roses Grow: Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds with Kylie Minogue
Did you hear that? That was the sound of Gen-X turning against me.
I get it. Nick Cave is cool. Kylie is sexy. What a mysterious coupling they were. How awesome, they did a murder ballad together. Dark Kylie. Oooh. We like.
All the while forgetting that this is a song about a man who bludgeons his partner to death with a rock, for no other reason than “all beauty must die”.