Why There Can Be No Male Equivalent to the Jordin Sparks Song “I Am Woman” or “Independent Women” By Destiny’s Child

I’m so vain, I probably think this song is about me…  

Thursday night on American Idol I watched Jordin Sparks perform her latest single, “I Am Woman.”  In the likeness of so many popular songs celebrating the empowerment of (single and independent) women, the lyrics of the chorus go like this:

I am (I am) woman (woman)
I am (I am) woman (woman)
I’m a woman
I’m a woman
Yes I am
Ain’t nobody else can do it like we can

But what if instead of Jordin Sparks singing the song, it was the dreamy Scotty McCreery, and he changed to lyrics to be masculine?  No one would hear, “I am man, yes I am, ain’t nobody else can do it like we can.”  Instead, the song lyrics would be perceived as “I am conceited, I am narcissistic.  I’m a jerk.  I’m a sleezebag.  Yes I am.  Ain’t nobody more of an a-hole than guys like me.”

Is this a double standard- that women can sing songs about being proud to be independent and successful, but if a guy did the same thing, he would either A) not be taken seriously or B) become despised by women?

No, it’s not a double standard.  Because only in recent decades has it truly become acceptable to desire for men and women to be socially equal.  Women have had to struggle to get where they are in society today, but men haven’t had to play the underdog gender throughout history.  So it’s ironic to the point of extreme arrogance for a man to boast about his successful independence.  I’ll illustrate this further my “masculinizing” the lyrics to “Independent Women” by Destiny’s Child.  I’ll emphasize the very worst parts in bold print:

What you think about a guy like me?
Buy my own car and spend my own money
Only ring your celly when I’m feeling lonely
When it’s all over please get up and leave

Please don’t call me baby
Cause I’ll call you
Don’t mean to hurt you feelings, got a lot to do
Cause I am my number one priority
No falling in love, no commitment from me

All my independent men
Throw them hands up at me
And all my sexy men
Throw them hands up at me

All my money making men
Throw them hands up at me
All my baller men
Throw them hands up at me

How you feel about a guy like this?
Try to control me, girl you’ll get dismissed
Do what I want, live how I wanna live
Buy my own golf clubs, and pay my own bills

Where my males?
Where all my men?
How did you feel about this groove I wrote?
Hope you got the message men take control
Don’t depend on no woman to give you what you want
Keep that in mind next time you hear this song

If you’re independent
I congratulate you
If you ain’t in love
I congratulate you
Do them girls like they used to do you
If you pimp her
I congratulate you

Of course, there are exceptions to the rule that guys can’t/won’t/shouldn’t brag about their gender in a song, like Brad Paisley’s “I’m Still a Guy.”  But hopefully most people would realize that song was meant to be an innocent, humorous caricature of men.  Maybe another exception would be so many of Kanye West’s songs- but even then, he’s bragging about himself being awesome, not about men in general.

‘Obviously, it’s important that women are socially and economically equal to men. But do women also want to be A) physically equal and B) emotionally equal? And C) does it help a woman in the business world to “act more like a man” by “being less emotional?” And D) do I sound like a jerk or at least naive for asking any of these questions?’

I asked the above questions word-for-word on Facebook for some input.  Based on the answers I received, here is how I would answer those questions:

A)  No, there is no desire to be physically as strong as a man.

B) No, there is no desire to hold in emotions the way men do, or at least they way they seem to do.

C) It can.  And this is a good example of an actual double standard between the sexes.

D)  No, because the motives are sincere in asking the questions.

The most sober and sobering thoughts I can learn through this social survey is that men and women are different for a reason.  They both have their own strengths in which they can compliment each other with.  Imagine how life would be in this world if men and women were truly equal in every way.  Scary, if you ask me. I would have to give birth, express my emotions, and never be able to truly “think about nothing.”  My mind would never stop and I would constantly be thinking about at least 10 different things at once, all the time.

That’s way too exhausting even for a strong, confident man such as myself.

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Country Music vs. Rap Music

There are two kinds of people in the world- those who are more prone to listen to Country, and those who are more prone to listen to Rap.  Either way, I do think that those who equally like them both are kinda weird.

My hometown is Fort Payne, Alabama.  When I was born, the town wasn’t even on the map yet.  But Fort Payne had a secret weapon that would shortly change that for us- a country music band that by 1983 would be a force to be reckoned with: Alabama.  The lead singer’s son was in my grade (192 graduating seniors for the entire city) and Randy Owen and the other band members would often drop off their kids at school themselves.  And even today, my parents’ house is only a few miles away from a few of the band member’s houses.

Needless to say, I grew up listening to Country music.  Not only Country music though- it was just something that got thrown in the mix with everything else.  Sort of like the way country music is perceived in Australia and other foreign countries that have a large country music fan base.  It’s not so much a mindset that Country music is its own entity- instead, it’s just American music that happens to be recorded in Nashville and Southern-flavored.

The Closer You Get (1983)

And that’s what Country music is to me.  Just like any other genre of music- some of it’s really good, some of it’s okay, and some of it is pretty horrible.  Some artists are classier, like George Strait and Lady Antebellum; while there are also the self-proclaimed rednecks like Hank Williams, Jr. and Toby Keith.  And just for the record, I like certain Country artists from each level of the spectrum.  I’m not too sophisticated for “Let’s Talk about Me”, assuming the song is meant to be funny.

Something I have observed is that when you ask a person what kind of music they like, you’ll generally get an answer like this: “Oh, I like pretty much all of it- classic rock, oldies, Motown, hard rock, alternative.  I even like a little (Country or Rap), but definitely not (Country or Rap).”

The people who like a little Country music tend to be the ones that will not listen to Rap; the ones that tend to like a little Rap music typically won’t listen to Country.  In other words, both Country and Rap music are polar opposites of each other, but the thing they both have in common is that they are both on the edges of mainstream.  Of course, there are people out there who pretty much only listen to Country, or only listen to Rap, but I’m talking about everyone else- people like me.

Downtown Fort Payne

Of the two examples I mentioned, I personally am the kind of person that will say, “I even like a little Country, but definitely not Rap.”  It’s not that I don’t think Rap sounds good or that rappers don’t have real talent because they typically don’t play instruments.  It doesn’t even bother me that Rap songs often use the choruses of hits from the ‘80’s, instead of coming up with their own.

For me personally, the lyrical content of Rap music is largely irrelevant to my life.  It comes across angry, violent, degrading to women, and obsessed with material possessions (I’m overaware I’m not the first person to say that).  But for all the millions of Rap fans in the world, there are obviously themes that ring true and connect to their listeners.  Rap music is relevant to millions; I’ve just not one of them.

South End of Fort Payne

While I didn’t grow up on a farm and wear Wranglers, there is much I can relate to in Country music, like its common themes of love, family, God, and simple living.  And as content as I am to listen to John Mayer and Guster and Phil Collins on a 4 hour road trip, it’s always a given that I have to slip in a Brad Paisley album into the mix.  Country music provides a lyrical grounding for me in the midst of rock songs which I love, but are better left vague in their meaning (like pretty much anything by Stone Temple Pilots or Smashing Pumpkins).

So there’s my biased opinion.  Which is it for you, though?  Which musical extreme do you identify with most- Country or Rap?  (You can either answer quietly to yourself or in the form of a passionate and/or angry comment below.) I think it’s a pretty interesting and revealing question to ask someone.  Like simply asking a person “Batman or Superman?