Saturday, January 10, 2009

On annoyance with Beyoncé and the dreaded "it"

I'm annoyed by Beyoncé's current single, oh so annoyed.

It's called "Single Ladies". It seems a song calculated to try and get women up on the dancefloor in sisterhood and we've-been-dumped-but-we'll-get-by-so-neah-ishness; a theme that might include Gaynor's "I will survive" or even a previous song with Destiny's Child "Survivor", to give examples of the genre. Although whether the lyrics of these songs would stand analysis, I don't know, I'm not annoyed by them today so not looking at them with jaded eye.

The song seems to be about an ex getting shirty with the singer, for having a good time and being out with another man so she is telling him to back off as they have split and it's none of his business. So far, so bloody marvellous, not too much to complain about there really.

But you see, the refrain is "If you liked it you shoulda put a ring on it." It?!

The video shows her hand gestures and at the very end shows a very large diamond ring on her finger, so "it" no doubt is officially her finger.

But the "if you liked it"? C'mon, that "it" wasn't the finger. Hmm, yes, I like your finger so very much, I wish to give it jewellery... You have to wonder what exactly she was doing with her finger for such a result... Perhaps she's a hand-model and he's a catalogue photographer. The innocent explanation.

So what else is "it"? Well, the first verse is about a failed 3 year relationship, so "it" could be that, possibly - but it is stretching massively. For you cannot put a ring upon a relationship, being a less than tangible thingy, more a concept or emotional state. Nor can it be her sex-drive or libido, for the same reason.

The set-up of this song is of her dancing sexily with a man in a club and being disapproved of by the ex, while the accompanying dance for the video is very much about the body... Which leads me to the conclusion that "it" is her body. Referring to her body and/or on a larger scale, women's bodies as "it" gets me to feeling all tense about the shoulders. It's dehumanising. "It" is an object, not a person.

Another annoying lyric is within the verse:
"Don’t treat me to the things of this world
I’m not that kind of girl
Your love is what I prefer, what I deserve
Is a man that makes me, then takes me
And delivers me to destiny, to infinity and beyond*
Pull me into your arms
Say I’m the one you own
If you don’t, you’ll be alone
And like a ghost I’ll be gone".

Did you spot the especially irritating and wronger-than-a-wrong-thing line?

"Say I'm the one you own." What? I refer you, Beyoncé, to the sentiments of Leslie Gore. Even if the man in question had given you a ring, he wouldn't own you.

And the idea that if he had given her a ring that there'd be questions of permission, of going out or of drink in her glass?! Sure, if you're in a relationship, you keep each other apprised of your movements mutually and are answerable to each other, but this does not translate into asking permission. I can see dirty dancing with someone else as being a bit of a no-no, but come on, the rest of it? This sense I get that the song is saying if the man had committed to her in a relationship, he'd have a right to control her, is troubling.

I think what annoys me most is the way that this song seems to me to be cloaked as an anthem for independence and sisterhood, ie. its call to single women and post-break-up narrative, yet it's a rather epic fail because it reduces the woman to "it" and assumes some rather dodgy things about relationships.

* Buzz Lightyear to the rescue.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

She's a hand model and he's a catalogue photographer..... LOL! I like that explanation. I like your picture, is it based on the Proverb, "As a gold ring in a pig's snout is a beautiful woman who lacks discretion." Proverbs 11 v 22?

Perhaps the woman in the song would prefer her Buzz Lightyear. *(insert tasteless joke about vibrators here)* Joking aside, yes, the "it" in question is very questionable. Abster