Remember 2006-2009 when you were in middle school, went through that emo-punk-hardcore (whatever you want to call it) phase, and things were easier? I was 12-15 during those years and loved bands like Taking Back Sunday, Paramore, Cute is What We Aim For, The Maine… the list can go on. You know which bands I mean.
I used to burn playlists on CDs and listen to them in my room. All of these bands just mentioned are held dearly to my heart, because I grew up with them. I also grew out of it, but let me tell you that a couple of weeks ago I found these burned playlists in my room and now I listen to them in my car. Suddenly I felt 13 again and excited as the first (and only) time I went to the Warped Tour.
As I sang in my car, ’cause of course I still remember the lyrics, I did something I never did 10 years ago; I listened to them. I wasn’t shocked about the content but more on how I never notice how misogynist they were and filled with slut shame.
Since middle school I’ve been someone that reads lyrics carefully. This makes me think that I didn’t miss the sexual connotations. I had a very different opinion on female sexuality and a low opinion on “whores”, back then. (In my defense I was 13.)
In 2006 Cute is What We Aim For came out with their debut album The Same Old Blood Rush With a New Touch. By the time I was a freshmen in middle school the album was already a must hear. These are the lyrics to their most recognizable song “The Curse of Curves”:
I’ve got the gift of one liners
And you’ve got the curse of curves
And with this gift I compose words
And the question that comes forward
Are you perspiring from the irony
Or are you sweating to these lyrics
And this just in
You’re a dead fit
But my wit won’t allow it
The song is about a kid that has a crush on the school’s slut, but he is too good for her. He’s actually smart and good with words; I mean he has the gift of one liners and she’s extremely attractive she’s a dead fit. The speaker is trying to stay good and not surrender to shallow things like looks, but this girl GOT CURVES. As the speaker says on the chorus he is looking for something with more substance:
I want someone provocative and talkative,
but it’s so hard when you’re shallow as a shower.
From what I’ve heard with skin you win.
So, is a song about a guy who thinks “easy girls” are not worthy of him, yet he writes a song about one. Actually a whole album. This is the cover of the album; a provocative figure of a woman pulling down her skirt and the lost boys stranded behind.
Here are the lyrics for another song “Newport Living”,
Everyone’s a let down
It just depends on how far down they can go
In every circle of friends there’s a whore
The one who flirts and does a little more
But who’s to say?
This is a social scene anyway
And everybody wants to explore the new girl
Caught up in her own hard liquor world
But liquor doesn’t exist in my world
But liquor doesn’t exist in my world
You are a sell out
But you couldn’t even do that right
So your price tag has been slashed
And now you’re chillin’ on the half price clearance rack
I’ll say it. His lyrics are actually clever. Another recurring theme in his lyrics is alcoholism, or in his case the lack of drinking. In those years being “straight edge” was hip. This is a subculture in which alcohol, smoking, and drugs are avoided; a response to the excesses of punk culture. Apparently shamming on those ones who drank and smoked was also hip and cool.
This song was the first in which I notice the slut shamming, and surprised me because it was so cleverly hidden in plain view.
Medically speaking you’re adorable
And from what I hear you’re quite affordable
But I like them pricey
So exaggerate and t-t-t-t-t-trick me
Pretty please, just trick me
So he admits it. He likes them when they’re harder to get and more “pure”. For someone who’s not into sluts he sure spent too much time writing about easy girls. In 2016 the band’s vocalist, Shaant Hacikyan, said that rape culture “wasn’t a thing”. Could we expect more from the writer of those verses?
The Maine is one of those bands that I still listen to today. They’re my babies. I saw them one time live when they opened for Taking Back Sunday. I could have made excuses for my favs, but they do have a slut shamming song… “The Way We Talk”.
She’s fresh to death
She’ll be the death of you
Seduction leads to destruction
She’s fresh to death
She’ll be the death of me
She’s fresh, she’s but not so clean
“She’s fresh, but not so clean” can refer to a girl who doesn’t play fair and by that I mean a cheater or a girl that takes advantage of boys. In that case I would say, “Yes John O’Callaghan, call her on it”. But later in the song it says “Sex sells, and your sex cells make all the lost boys drool”. With that in mind I believe the “not so clean” refers to an STD.
Remember Paramore? Remember their iconic music video of “that” girl that wears too much makeup, that breaks up a couple by kissing the guy, and cuts a girl’s blond hair? First, with the school dress code policies she would’ve never made it past the front door wearing what she was wearing. Second, remember how Hayley Williams wipes the makeup off the “sluts” face? She wears as much makeup as her, like what the fuck Hayley? I’m just going to wipe all that heavy black eyeliner, orange eyeshadow and pull on you orange extensions. Third, check the lyrics:
Second chances, they don’t ever matter, people never change
Once a whore you’re nothing more
I’m sorry, that’ll never change
And about forgiveness, we’re both supposed to have exchanged
I’m sorry honey, but I passed it up, now look this way
Well, there’s a million other girls who do it just like you
Looking as innocent as possible to get to who
They want and what they like
It’s easy if you do it right
Well I refuse, I refuse, I refuse!
You refuse to what Hayley? Take advantage of others to benefit your own image? What would Josh and Zac Farro, ex band members say about that?
Perhaps out of all the bands only Forever the Sickest Kids asked the right question, why is purity so important? These are the lyrics for “The Party Song”
You’re such a flirt
To every guy that you meet
And why is purity so beautiful to me?
A filthy rag, a dirty whore
I have been captivated as the prisoner of my sin
Then here’s this one by Mayday Parade. “When I Get Home You’re So Dead” is a song about a cheating girlfriend, but still do you have to put her under a table to… you know what they mean…
So say hello to all the boys at the top
Of this table that you’re under
This is sorry for the last time
And baby I understand that you’re making new friends
This is how you get by
The moral this time is:
Girls make boys cry, and I…
Also “baby I understand that you’re making new friends, this is how you get by” sounds like a Drake song…
The recurring theme on this songs is that boys are placed as victims of a girl’s sexuality and don’t take responsibility for their own horniness. I’m not saying is wrong if they desire these girls, just own it boys.
Finally here’s a last song by Cute is What We Aim For from that same album in which Hacikyan is obsessed with the school’s “slut”.
So what made you think
That he couldn’t find a door in the morning?
When he found that bed so easily
In the dark
“The Fourth Drink Instinct” is about a girl that goes to a bar, gets drunk, and goes home with a guy. Girls will always be accounted for their sexuality, but the guy is never to blame.
Now I’m mentioning the famous song by Metro Station “Shake It” not because it was misogynist; just because it’s hilarious. Is this song about sex? It begins with “I’ll take you home if you don’t leave me at the front door”, then the chorus…
Now if she does it like this, will you do it like that?
Now if she touches like this, will you touch her right back?
Now if she moves like this, will you move her like that? C’mon
Shake, shake, shake, shake, shake it.
Shake WHAT? You don’t shake it like that. It’s not about dancing… they’re already at the front door, and as he said “your body is cold but, girl we’re getting so warm.”
So yeah, things were easier in the early 2000’s. Good thing that slut shamming stayed there. Right?