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If You Don’t Like Men…

If You Don’t Like Men…

After a number of positive music reviews, I think it’s time to do a negative one.

The song in question, which has serenaded me over the radio a few times now in the past week, is “You Might Not Like Me” by Brynn Elliot:

For starters, the comments section has an interesting breakdown in types:

This is deffinitely a feminists’ anthem and I am LIVING for it.

The commenter is correct, it def[f]initely is a feminist anthem. Maybe a little early to correlate feminism with bad music, especially only three years after Carrie Underwood released her feminist and excellent “Church Bells.” Nevertheless, there’s definitely a general trend. Perhaps we’ll get to why shortly.

One of the best songs released in 2018! So empowering and energetic! I feel those lyrics, it’s time for girls to stop blaming themselves for a failed relationship and start realizing their strength and qualities

Another supportive feminist comment. This one in particular (stop blaming themselves) is illustrative of the mindset of the lyrics themselves.

I love the lyrics to this song i wish u could come sing this song to a couple boys at my school but 4real #girlpower

But then, there are the criticisms…

i don’t like girls……with airplane sized egos who proclaim themselves awesome without proving it. This makes KPOP look appetizing…..

Really? That’s so weird… I could have sworn that the most attractive qualities in women were ego and  snark (sometimes mistakenly described as “wit”). But what do I know.

It’s a nice song but internally I’m like, “he probably doesn’t like you cause your telling him he sucks at everything compared to you and he needs to get over it and ‘be a man’. ” Which is a pretty valid reason anyone wouldn’t like you 😓😓😓😓😓

It does have a catchy beat going for it.

And if you don’t like cats that are cuter than you. Well then you might not like mine well then might like mine. You might not like mine! Dog lay down your pride wipe the tear from your eye , I’ll be your friend I’ll be your friend.😂

I’m not sure if it’s intentionally mocking the with a subtle cat-lady reference, but it was a little amusing nonetheless.

Honestly (as a woman) I just want to say that there is nothing wrong with a man who likes a woman who is “weaker” than him. If that is what you like then that is what you like. No one complains about a woman who likes submissive men. There are plenty of dominant women who would be intimidated by dominant men the same way as a dominant man is intimidated by a dominant woman. It’s fine to be intimidated by another dominant person! Guys shouldn’t have to like every single woman type out there to be accepted. Everyone has their own personality and preferences. A dominant personality often prefers a submissive one by their side. They balance each other out.

Misogyny! If a guy doesn’t like a girl, it’s clearly because of her good qualities! What right does he have to his own taste???

Anyway, enough foreplay. Let’s dive into the song itself.

The music starts with a choir singing a quick, staccato “ba-ba-ba-ba-ba.” The rhythm isn’t particularly remarkable, but the notes are distinctly melancholy, which gives an appropriate backdrop to the opening lyrics:

You broke up with me and for the life of me
I couldn’t figure out what I did wrong
I’m so sorry, I’m usually the first one
To admit that I did wrong

Charity requires us to accept the premise for now. Certainly, the problem can be the guy’s, so I have no real issues here… besides the fact that it’s a bit of a cheat to rhyme “I did wrong” with “I did wrong.”

However, from a statistical perspective, the idea that you are usually the first one to admit you did wrong might be a little suspect. Possible, but suspicious.

Get over yourself, it’s no big deal
If I run a little faster than you on the playground
Get over yourself, what’s your problem
What’s your problem?

That’s one hell of a transition. “I’m usually the first one to admit I did wrong… Get over yourself!” I get that there isn’t a lot of room for build-up in the tight confines of a song, but even by song standards, the turn is pretty sharp. For me, this suddenness of the transition from introspective humble-bragger to externalizing critic makes the authenticity of one of these two sentiments sound a little questionable. Which one? Well, let’s wait for the chorus and find out.

Also, on the playground? Is this for elementary school kids?

Well if you don’t like girls that are stronger than you
And if you don’t like girls that are faster than you
And if you don’t like girls that are smarter than you
Well then you might not like me
You might not like me

…and there it is.

Musically, this is actually an interesting and clever bit of composition, although it is motivation-revealing. While she is singing “don’t like girls,” the words are punctuated by a distinctly female background choir and the percussion section, like melodic underlining for the phrase. Emotionally, the effect is an accusation: her ex-boyfriend broke up with her because he doesn’t like girls, period. Obviously, the line continues (…that are harder/better/faster/stronger than you), but these are clearly qualities the singer is — and should be — proud of.

The percussive, female-choir “don’t – like – girls” might very well be the sound-track of the feminist movement as a whole, who believe men simply don’t like women, especially if the clear superiority of women makes men feel ashamed of themselves. It’s an attractive, self-vindicating and self-exculpating way to look at the world, isn’t it? Unfortunately, it’s also a sure-fire way to never get what you want, as the song indicates, and also as what successful men tell each other indicates.

Now that we’ve reached the chorus, what are the odds that those third and fourth lines about “usually [being] the first one to admit that I did wrong” are true?

We had chemistry and you’re one that got away
And I’ll never forget you
You were beautiful, you were perfect as you were
And I didn’t want to fix you

Now we see a deeper layer in the motivation. She clearly liked this guy, and is upset that this possibly misogynistic man broke up with her. How exactly feminists can square that circle, I’m not sure, but look at the wording here: “[the] one that got away;” “beautiful;” “perfect.”

All of these are phrases usually used by men to refer to women — “beautiful” in particular. Even while admitting her sadness, she can’t stop herself from snarkily trying to flip the script and putting on the proverbial pants.

She may as well have called this song “Might Not Like Men,” since the attributes she seems to be most proud of are masculine traits, rather than the feminine ones that men actually tend to find attractive

Get over yourself, it’s no big deal
If I swim a little faster than you in the neighbor’s pool
Get over yourself, what’s your problem
What’s your problem?

Well if you don’t like girls that are stronger than you
And if you don’t like girls that are faster than you
And if you don’t like girls that are smarter than you
Well then you might not like me, you might not like me
And if you don’t like girls that are tougher than you
And if you don’t like girls more darin’ than you
And if you don’t like girls braver than you
Well then you might not like me
You might not like me
You might not like me
You might not like me and that’s fine by me

What’s tragic is the projection. Projection is usually thought of as a negative trait, where we have some pathology or negative trait, and we see it in other people rather than in ourselves. But projection can happen with positive traits too (what is empathy, after all, if not a lite form of projection?), and here, the singer is clearly flummoxed that men aren’t attracted to the same traits in women that she is attracted to in men. It’s an easy, sometimes innocent mistake. Girls like men who are athletic, intelligent, courageous, tough, and above all, confident.

This song is an attempt to embody everything that the woman finds attractive about men in herself, on the assumption that men and women are equal.

It’s common to hear people say that they don’t disagree with feminism per se, only with third-wave feminism specifically. But regardless of whether you believe the third can be separated from the first, I think a great deal of harm comes from the first alone — from the idea, in other words, that men and women are equal. If you believe men and women are equal in their capabilities, proclivities, and preferences, and that all sex-specific deviations are the product of nurture, not nature, you are going to set yourself up for immense disappointment.

As Ms. Elliot has done here.

Boy, lay down your pride
Wipe that tear from your eye
I’ll take you back, I’ll take you back
Boy, lay down your pride
Wipe that tear from your eye
I’ll take you back, I’ll take you back, boy

As if the projection wasn’t clear enough before. How are we to believe the boy who broke up with you is crying? How is the listener supposed to forget that he broke up with her, that she thought he was “beautiful” and “perfect?” And of course, he’s the one who’s supposed to lay down his pride and get over himself.

Well if you don’t like girls that are stronger than you
And if you don’t like girls that are faster than you
And if you don’t like girls that are smarter than you
Well then you might not like me, you might not like me
And if you don’t like girls that are tougher than you
And if you don’t like girls more darin’ than you
And if you don’t like girls braver than you
Well then you might not like me
You might not like me
You might not like me
You might not like me and that’s fine by me

The temptation, of course is to come up with alternative lyrics for the catchy chorus. Perhaps something like this:

If you know YOU’RE. A. GUY. and you know what you like,
If you know YOU’RE. A. GUY. and you won’t date a shrike,
If you know YOU’RE. A. GUY. who keeps his head off a pike,
Well you might not like Brynn, you might not date Brynn
If you know YOU’RE. A. GUY. who likes feminine girls,
If you know YOU’RE. A. GUY. who’s not clutching his pearls,
If you know YOU’RE. A. GUY. with no patience for churls,
Well you might not like Brynn, and that’s fine by him

Music is always a poor source for worldviews, but that does not mean that lyrics can’t be used to illustrate a point or a perspective arrived at through reason or experience. That point may be the misogyny of masculine men who always need to be better than women, and who shake in their boots in the presence of strong and competent women. Or it might be the unfortunate side-effects of swallowing feminism whole: transforming an otherwise beautiful woman into a twisted female impression of what it means to be a man, inevitably embodying all of the worst masculine qualities and none of the best, and leaving the uncomprehending woman wondering why men — who quite like girls, but don’t fancy other men in that way — reject her when she flaunts her most masculine qualities.

It must be because they just don’t like girls.

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