May 14 2006

Mad Pop

From the indescribably awful “When You’re Mad” video: Ne-Yo prepares to sex one of his several mad girlfriends.

Let us now fix our gaze upon the torrid world of cutting-edge Top-40 teen pop music.

I am not precisely a music critic, but several of my acquaintances are, and I once got a piece published in which I expostulated that bombastic classical music should never be played in restaurants where raw oysters are served because it alarms the oysters, causing them to die agitated deaths, which agitation ruins the post-mortem taste.

I have also danced about architecture. So rest assured that I am thoroughly credentialed in this quarter. Not that I’m actually going to do any music criticking.

I refer your attention to the following stanza of clumsy, bonerized drivel excerpted from a hit R&B song in which the narrator enlarges on one of the tiredest and misogynist-est themes in popular music (“you’re beautiful when you’re angry”).

baby don’t think i don’t take you seriously
but i just can’t help the fact
your attitude excites me (so exciting)
and you know ain’t nothing better
than when we get mad together and have angry sex
oh, i blow you out then we forget what we was mad about, oh

[Complete lyrics here. iTunes snippet here. Thirty seconds of awful video here.]

These compelling lines gush forth from the stunningly derivative, popular, semi-literate dreamboat singer Ne-Yo. I have not seen young Ne-Yo perform, but if he isn’t one of those vapid man-boys who repetitively taps his hairless chest with his fingertips to indicate that his heart is bursting with passion for all his special laydees, I’ll eat a Homophobe Meat Fetish Pie at TGI Friday’s and afterward attend a special Terri Schiavo service at a Baptist megachurch. Which would be quite a hardship for me, because they station a guy at the door of those things to ensure that all female supplicants are encrusted, as Jesus ordered, in at least a half an inch of Maybelline products, and then they X-ray your uterus to check its serial number against their database of fallen women (supplied to them by the NSA).

They do this at the megachurches, too.

Before addressing the patriarchal domination fetish inherent in the aforementioned sexy-anger theme, I propose to present all the proof required by any spinster aesthete that (a) grammar is what separates us from the invertebrates and (b) banality in media, e.g. Ne-Yo, is the gateway drug to imbecility, e.g. the anonymous half-wit who writes the following bio:

At the tender age of twenty-two, the lyrical and musical talent that Ne-Yo posses [sic] are far beyond his years. […] Ne-Yo is taking the music industry by storm, as he graces and challenges popular music with his writing & vocal talents. Much more than today’s male singer, Ne-Yo is a rare artist; expressing creativity thru drawings, paintings, martial arts and song. He is distinguished by youthful energy with in-depth lyrics that touch the soul.

All band bios are physically painful to read, but this writer has packed into the boilerplate such hackneyed, meaningless crap, such gruesomely butchered syntax, and such agonizing unintelligibility with so comprehensive a Stepfordish torpor that I cannot help but wish upon him—if not a disagreeable death—then at least a crummy summer.

But back to the you-so-sexy-when-you-mad-I-just-gotta-fuck-you leitmotiv. Ne-Yo, whose “tenderness” I am inclined to dispute, is parroting a pervy narrative convention which, since the dawn of pervy narrative conventions, has sought to invalidate legitimate female outrage by ridiculing it, minimizing it, and recasting it as a sex behavior.

Ne-Yo’s narrator tells his irate receptacle that he takes her seriously, but we know this is a horndog lie, because does he say, “What’s bothering you, honey? Let me get you a glass of sherry and rub your feet while you tell me all about it.”? No. Instead, he swiftly and dismissively informs her that she’s “the cutest thing” and “so damn sexy” when she’s mad, and that her “attitude” is wholly responsible for the inevitable blue-veined swaybacked throbber with which he has no choice but to “blow [her] out” during the “angry sex.” He also admits to a preference for this scenario. What modern girl could resist the winning combination of infantilization, appeals to her vanity, and rape? He just fucks her pain away, I guess.

Look, I get that these are pop lyrics, and as such cannot be held to any kind of standard whatsoever, but nevertheless the cold clammy hand of patriarchy tries to high-five me whenever I think about little girls internalizing the you-are-nothing-but-pussy dogma promulgated by crap like this Ne-Yo tune.

Likewise, I always want to puke when this scene shows up in the movie I’m watching, which it almost always does, which is why I keep a bucket and some Lysol next to the lime green recliner. With slight variations, the tableau is a staple of romantic comedy and melodrama alike: Dude commits some assholic irresponsible act. Woman gets pissed off. Dude trivializes woman’s legitimate anger by telling her she’s hot when she’s pissed. He grabs her by the wrists. Woman struggles a bit, whines, “let me go, you’re hurting me” (this line appears verbatim in every such script ever written), and immediately submits to forcible advances of dude, whose inclination to rape her she suddenly finds irresistible. If it’s a comedy, they get married. If it’s a drama, dude ditches the dirty ho. But one thing never happens. The woman never maces the asshole, walks out, and moves to Alaska to start her own lesbian whale-watching business.

The entriplified bogus message of the you’re-beautiful-when-you’re-angry theme:

• All female behavior is seductive behavior.
• Fucking is always more important than any piddling intellectual or philosophical point an otherwise properly sexed-up female might raise.
• Females are always turned on by physical force, especially if you tell them they’re pretty.

[Gracias, AAG]


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  1. At first, I thought this was going to be a continuation of the ‘mentally ill girls are hawt’ thing.

  2. tuckova.com

    “Maybe I just wanna touch you for your warm inside again
    Maybe I just wanna hurt you the sweetest pleasure is pain
    I don’t know why why but I love to see you cry
    I don’t know why why it just makes me feel high”

    -from Enrique Iglesias, who can fuck away not only anger but also sorrow. So talented!

  3. politblogo.typepad.com

    Never heard of Ne-Yo. Just when I figure out what a “P. Diddy” is and why he needs to drop the P to be closer to his fans, now you tell me that I should know about Ne-Yo.

    And [pregnant pause] there are enough lesbian whales to start a lesbian whale watching business [trails off meaningfully]?

  4. Twisty

    “there are enough lesbian whales to start a lesbian whale watching business?”

    MandosX3. We’re everywhere.

  5. rosiesriveters.blogspot.com

    “But one thing never happens. The woman never maces the asshole, walks out, and moves to Alaska to start her own lesbian whale-watching business.”

    I think I just fell in love with you.

  6. politblogo.typepad.com

    How do you know that the whale is lesbian anyway when you watch them?

  7. Twisty

    Gaydar, fool. Next.

  8. “Don’t you know how sweet and wonderful, life can be
    I’m askin you baby, to get it on with me
    I aint gonna worry, I aint gonna push
    So come on, come on, come on, come on baby
    Stop beatin round the bush….

    Let’s get it on”

    First it’s “I ain’t gonna worry…” then it’s “stop beatin round the bush”. I don’t think Marvin was prepared to take no for an answer. I know this is an oldie, but I don’t really listen to current music so this is the first song I thought of.

    I’ve been lurking for a while, this is my first comment. I really enjoy your writing Twisty.

  9. guerillawomentn.blogspot.com

    Mandos: This is a hyphenation matter. If Twisty had meant that the whales themselves were lesbian, she would have written “lesbian-whale-watching” instead of “lesbian whale-watching.” Now see? This further proves Twisty’s point about literacy and the importance of punctuation. Try to read more closely next time and it’ll save us all a lot of time.

  10. I used to date a guy who liked it when I got angry because it excited him.

    I sometimes wonder if I misplaced my brain during my early twenties.

  11. eugeniaandino.com

    I think this question also has to do with the way patriarchy predicts who is dangerous. Anger in a man is very dangerous. I don’t know of any culture in which men are considered sexy when they are angry. Violent, yes, angry, no. Everyone is scared of an angry man. On the other hand, women are only dangerous if and when they are devious, cunning. Openly angry women are never a threat.

    On a personal note, I’m easily angered and I have had terrifying attacks of mad rage. I have learnt to control the mad rage bouts (because it is destructive, hurts others and leaves me exhausted) but it’s still very easy to piss me off. No one has ever said to me that I’m attractive when I’m angry and no one has ever tried to calm me down in a patronizing way. This post makes me think that my capacity to be so angry it scares people, the way I lose all superficial cuteness, can be a very good thing.

  12. grannyvibe.blogspot.com

    What’s really hot is when a lesbian killer whale gets mad. Could it be the cute little wrinkle over her nose when she makes her angry face? I dunno, let’s throw this rare artist into the middle of a pod and let him decide!

  13. dykotomy.blogspot.com

    I’m now a card-carrying IBTP fan member (and it only took one visit). Thanks Twisty for your fabulous sense of humour!

  14. beerandcarnations.blogspot.com

    I LOATHE that song. I’ll admit a shameful love of hip-hop, but when that song comes on, I get most definitely uncutely enraged and slap myradio buttons violently. My poor car radio, unwittingly a tool of the patriarchy.

  15. hedonisticpleasureseeker.wordpress.com

    That was so timely, given my personal situation these days. I’ve been wanting to blog about something for about 2 weeks now and I haven’t figured out a way to do it yet. This might be just the kick in the shorts I needed!

  16. kakamak.blogspot.com

    Twisty, you so sexy when you write angry critique!

  17. “…the lyrical and musical talent that Ne-Yo posses [sic] are far beyond his years.”
    I must admit to chortling over this bit. I’m thinking he was trying to find a positive way of saying ‘this poser is infantile’. Then I read it again and was disappointed. Please excuse the need for the dreaded ellipsis.

  18. Was that a blatant Nokia product placement style ad right in the first 30 fucking seconds of the video? Rare artist my ass.

  19. Egads! Exactly what I wanted to spout off about. For millenia friends had been telling me about this film I absolutely had to see, the flick that altered the course of film history, etc., etc. So, I plop down in my college theater-seat, and imagine my heartbreak as– just as I’m beginning to enjoy myself– I’m forced to swallow the hott scene Twisty’s described above (w/ maximum wrist-grabbing action!) Only she forgot the part where the uber-man growls, “Tell me you want me. Tell me I’m you’re everything,” at which she, glassy-eyed doll she is, complies as is her end-of-second-act duty. Seriously, I hate conventional narrative structure that makes sex in film compulsory. Surely there must be a way to get the third act started without raping (at least) the female lead?

    So, yeah, anyway: Fuck you Harrison Ford, and fuck you Blade Runner.

  20. That was probably the only scene in that movie I liked. It made it crystal clear. Whoever wrote that bit, whoever conceived it–betcha was a woman saying “here’s who we are”. Only the fish scales were fictional.

  21. unsanesafe.blogspot.com

    The only way to turn this whole thing around (and I suppose I’m talking about this patriarchy thing) is to promote the development of perspectival lenses which will enable more and more people to see things (patriarchal things) as they, in fact, are.

    I realised how easily (albeit with some education) this can be done with things (patriarchal and more general) recently. In Australia (I don’t know about the US), there seems to be a wide-ranging cultural affectation which can be properly understood as “obsession with a pecking order”.
    It’s basically an implicit faith in the efficacy of sado-masochistic dynamics as the ultimate ordering principle of social realms. According to this faith, one’s position in any social hierarchy is based upon the amount of times one can viciously degrade other human beings, as compared to the amount of times one is viciously degraded onself, by to others. In effect, one’s value as a human being is based upon an internalised, psychological ration of one’s own empirical achievements in the realm of abusiveness versus one’s own sense of having been abused.

    Obviously, the lengthy analysis I have made above, concerning a disease afflicting Australian culture, is not going to help anybody who is caught within the dynamics of this particular mind-set to understand why it is wrong and stupid. Nonetheless, I firmly believe that if enough observers started to perceive this culture of the pecking order as nothing more than human beings pretending to be chickens, the power which has pertained to this dynamic up until now will begin to fade.

    No longer will such denizens perceive themselves to be powerful creatures representing “the law of the jungle”. Instead, they will quiver in shame, realising that they are merely chickens in a barn yard, and that this isn’t a glorious place for human beings to be.

    I’m sure that a reframed perspective on monkey-ape Ne-Yo can also be discovered, in the same fashion.

  22. Gaydar, fool. Next.

    But Gaydar doesn’t work in the water! The gay wavelength light refracts wildly when it hits water to form rainbows – as anyone who remembers their highschool physics should know.

  23. I’ve been fortunate enough to have escaped Ne-Yo’s particular brand of hip-hop misogyny in both song and video form, despite the huge amount of music tv I sit through every day.
    I’ve recently been enraged to a ridiculous extent over the rather bizarre self-censorship policies that music channels in the UK have when it comes to the content of music videos. Swearing is always edited out (even at 2am), some drug references are removed (although from my limited and totally non-scientific observances whether a song is edited in this way seems to depend on the skin-colour of the artist) and more bizarrely, all references to cigarette smoking are starting to be pixelated out of music video history. All of this is being done supposedly with the well-being of ‘the kids’ firmly in mind. But the huge number of videos that show women as little more than vacant, bikini-clad, oily, meat-bags who wash cars with their tits and are supposedly desperate to fuck such studly specimens as Notorious BIG are left intact. Little Jimmy shouldn’t hear the word damn in case it melts his little ears, but lets pile on the t n’a for his viewing pleasure.

  24. Scrathy888: If I understand you correctly (I think maybe I do after reading that three times) I think what you have described as being the norm in Australia is my view of American culture, especially as compared to Canadian culture. Wasn’t there a book published recently on the topic of argumentation passing as conversation in American culture (she said drawing authority around her like an invisible cloak.)

    I’ll now leave.

  25. lapplander.blogspot.com

    I got nothing smart to say except Twisty Rules.

  26. cypress.typepad.com

    Nia wrote: “I think this question also has to do with the way patriarchy predicts who is dangerous. Anger in a man is very dangerous. I don’t know of any culture in which men are considered sexy when they are angry. Violent, yes, angry, no. Everyone is scared of an angry man. On the other hand, women are only dangerous if and when they are devious, cunning. Openly angry women are never a threat.”

    I think this is a very important point. Reading this made me think of the words which have likely stopped so many lesbians, and perhaps lesbian whales too, from coming out to their fathers or mothers: “don’t tell your father/mother, it will kill him/her.”

    Sometimes we are killers/dangerous when we are just who we are. IBTP.

    [I’m struggling to fight my serious case of anti-capitaliteness.]

  27. politblogo.typepad.com

    MzNicky: Pendant!

  28. janetiswriting.blogspot.com

    I was particularly taken by your comparison between the street’s view on women and a church’s view on women: the only difference is that in Ne-Yo’s car, sex is for pleasure while under the biblical sense it is know as “creating children.” Did I want a vagina? Now I have a whole bunch of expectations involving sex whether I become an entertainment whore or a cross-wearin’ congregation member.

    This sucks. And so does Ne-Yo’s lryics. Grow a brain you perv.

  29. unsanesafe.blogspot.com

    If I understand you correctly (I think maybe I do after reading that three times) I think what you have described as being the norm in Australia is my view of American culture, especially as compared to Canadian culture. Wasn’t there a book published recently on the topic of argumentation passing as conversation in American culture (she said drawing authority around her like an invisible cloak.)

    That’s interesting, Pony. I know there have to be more civilised ways of behaving, somewhere in the world. I know that because whenever I encounter yet another manifestation of sado-masochistic inflexion in the community, I simply breathe a deep sigh. I am so unimpressed with the idea of human indignity that this “philosophy” seems to imply. “There must be something of a higher standard of intelligence, elsewhere,” I am caught muttering to myself.

    I don’t know the book to which you are referring. Would love to, though.

  30. unsanesafe.blogspot.com

    Mandos May 14th, 2006 at 7:54 pm

    MzNicky: Pendant!

    A pedant that is worn around the neck? Like an albatross?

  31. guerillawomentn.blogspot.com

    scratchy888: Dang, you beat me to it! I wanted to taunt Mandos! After all, I’m the pendantic one here.

  32. Here it is Scratchy888. I haven’t read it, but as soon as I saw the title I thought how apropos. I think I read her first book many years when I was studying linguistics.

    Anyway, the internet seems to be overwhelmingly populated by our lovely American friends. I mean that sincerely. And when I first came to the internet I thought moje cris tabernac, or something like that. I’ve never known people so fucking argumentative.

    You agree with me right? Choose your ground carefully if you don’t because I can call you on each point. I’ll make you look a fool and you’ll wish you’d never logged on. I’ve got a database of cites says I’m right.


  33. Misogyny when correctly applied is a divide-and-conquer strategy that goes a long way in pacifying young black men, and ensuring that their discontent is never directed towards the system that oppresses them. I would argue that Ne-Yo is just another useful idiot of the corporate patriarchal establishment, who functions as a willing and unwitting propaganda tool for his white CEO masters. It is unlikely that this poorly educated and naive “artist” has any real control over the content of his music or videos. He’s just another record company minstrel act, dancing to the tune of the millions he has signed away to his delighted bosses.

  34. sisterhood-and-solidarity.blogspot.com

    Hey, Scratchy888 and Pony, I think there is an increasing prevalence of conflict-as-normal-interaction in Australian culture, and as well as blaming the patriarchy, I blame Hollywood! I watch movies and tv shows of the past decade and am struck how almost every situation is resolved through conflict rather than cooperation. Two people on a desert island with different ideas on how to proceed? They argue, and one of them wins. Negotation and compromise isn’t just deprioritised, it doesn’t appear as a possible behaviour.

    And don’t get me started on kids TV and the constant relentless aggro – even in non-agressive shows! And what little brats my nieces turn into when they watch it!

  35. Exquisite Twistylemic! Brava, brava!

    yr obdnt srvnt,
    B. Dagger Lee

  36. politblogo.typepad.com

    Hahaha. You fell into my pendant trap!

  37. I believe you’re right Violet. And in time (very little, likely) he’ll be replaced by a nearly indistinguishable clone.

    That’s why I only listen to non-profit radio. I don’t buy what I hear there either, but that’s not a political issue.


  38. mycrust.livejournal.com

    And let us not forget the Ying Yang [sic] Twins and their touching “Wait (The Whisper Song)”.

  39. Say Pony,

    How about those of us who are trying to move in the other direction and gain some insight about it? I am headed for Canada before the year’s out and would love to have the advice of a fellow-blamer on a good source or two to help me feel like I know where Canadians are coming from, socio-historically. I did a few years of Grad school in Vancouver some time back, but I was cheerfully oblivious to all of that back then. This time I’d like to be semi-conscious about it. Also if you’re the same person who wrote about Canadian vs. American lit a while back, I would love to get some fiction refs as well as non-fiction.


  40. Twisty,
    That song is so disturbing and insulting. Count me in among the station-changers.
    I am glad you did your number on it. Dig.

  41. What other direction? Are you in Oz or the States? Canadian Literature? I don’t remember the post. And, I’m not typical. Well who is–Canadians differ a lot geographically, and cuturally because we are not a melting pot as is the States. Here, everyone’s a hyphenated Canadian: French Canadian, Polish Canadian, Western Canadian, Maritimer, from The Rock (NFLD/LA), Northerner. Like that. We all hate each other. Just kidding. What would you like to know?

  42. Having said all that about Americans and their unique conversational habits: I personally am said to be confrontational. Do you believe THAT? At least, that’s what Mr. Ex told me. chortle snort.

  43. unsanesafe.blogspot.com

    Hey, Scratchy888 and Pony, I think there is an increasing prevalence of conflict-as-normal-interaction in Australian culture

    Hey you two.

    Pony, I looked at the book. Seems interesting.

    Alecto Erinyes, I don’t know if it is even conflict, per se, which is normalised. It seems to me that what often goes on is simply spitefulness for the sake of petty oneupmanship.

    Of it was just conflict that was normalised — sort of like the two party system or the court system — then that, alone, wouldn’t be so bad. But the point is that a lot of the time there are all sorts of people making very vulgar and often vicious attempts at domination, through criticising another’s looks, manner, behaviour or anything at all. If the person that is being criticised is harmed by this, then the abuser puts that as a feather in their cap. Ot corroborates their own sense of themselves as mighty lion in the law of the jungle.

    The only thing is, that this is as far from lion-like behaviour as you can imagine (in all sorts of senses, literal as well as metaphoric).

    Yet, this is what people do, and it is what people know, and if only they saw themselves through my eyes, they would think better of it.

  44. unsanesafe.blogspot.com

    Ouch! I meant “IF it was just conflict that was normalised..”
    (sorry for the after-dots).

  45. unsanesafe.blogspot.com

    Oh, malice! I did it again. “It corroborates [after-dots]”

  46. I only had about 3 hours sleep last night owing to party animals below me. So I’m not reading with any sensibility now. Marshal your questions antelope et al, I shall try to answer tomorrow, when I’ll desperately be looking for reasons to make a leisurely deadline more exciting.

  47. wina- I’m looking forward to my twenties ending for exactly that reason. I’ve been told sense hits sometime soon. Can’t wait.

  48. unsanesafe.blogspot.com

    I only had about 3 hours sleep last night owing to party animals below me.

    Nice to be on top?

  49. Alecto Erinyes wrote: “I think there is an increasing prevalence of conflict-as-normal-interaction in Australian culture, and as well as blaming the patriarchy, I blame Hollywood!”

    It’s the double-blame: you get your outright patriarchy and your Hollywood-based patriarchy. If the stories of The Patriarchy (TM) are in the Bible, the pictures are Made in the USA.

  50. This is on a tangent, but check out the Nokia product placement in that thirty second clip. Apparently Nokia thinks that associating their product with these sentiments is going to be a sure-fire winner.

  51. Another fabby piece of writing.

    Gaydar in the water switches to sonar setting, obviously. Gonar. Or some such.

    Does one hail lesbian whales ‘Thar Xe Blows’?

  52. Late to the discussion, but, my 2c:

    Anger in women is culturally perceived as a sign of weakness. And, any sign of weakness is an opportunity that maybe the doors to the pussy have been left unlocked and ‘whoops, she dropped the keys’.

    The smug “you’re so cute when you’re angry” bit is a ploy to lay claim to an advantage.

  53. kwillz.blogspot.com

    I saw another video of his in which he had an argument with a girl. He grabs her by the shoulders and slams her into a wall. All this while she’s wearing a sweater and panties.

  54. Thanks Pony for mentioning the differences in culture/communication between Canada and the States. As a Canadian who has spent far, far too much time in the States, far too much time reading mostly American blogs and far too little time in the real world, I spend alot of time thinking about our divergent cultures and to what extent we follow or reject American trends. Likewise I find myself too often applying American blogular insights to Canadian culture, which just doesn’t work for a number of reasons. In fact… it kind of cheers me up when I realise how different we are. Gives me hope that we aren’t completely headed on the same path, despite current Harper-related evils.

    My appologies if this sounds Canadian-centric or anti-American, because it really isn’t meant to be.

    And on the topic of American Literature vs Canadian Literature, by the end of the summer I should be able to write something vaguely informed/intelligent on the topic, though at this point my only insight is that almost all the Canadian lit I’ve read is really, really dark/screwed up. Then again, I had to read alltogether too much Timothy Findlay. Not Wanted on the Voyage is a really disturbing book when you’re 16.

  55. What’s this awaiting moderation? I didn’t use a single elipse! honest!

  56. I’m glad that you enjoyed this song, Twisty. By “enjoyed” I mean “ripped to shreds.”

    In the typical movie you mentioned, if it’s just the right type of drama, that angry-sexy woman will eventually die a bloody death.

  57. selfresurrection.blogspot.com

    My partner and I are said to argue like Rabbis about everything under the sun, especially whether or not the car in front of us really and truly “braked suddenly.” He has yet to tell my I’m sexy when I’m angry and I agree with him. There’s nothing the least bit sexy about being kneed in the groin which is exactly what men like Ne-Yo would get for trying that on me. On the other hand, many a passionate discussion on, say, government involvement in marriage, has spilled over into the bedroom. Perhaps these he-men haven’t the perceptive depth to differentiate between the rising heat of a good debate and the just rage they get for being an asshole. You know, hope springs eternal. Dumb guy sees passion and thinks sex, even if that passion is the angry variety. Same goes for those lousy films, why can’t the rutting pair be equally aggressive in the act? I’d rather see a heartfelt session with a Pocket Rocket than any sort of sex involving a human doormat.

  58. dharmarants.blogspot.com

    Great, fabulous post! Not unexpected but this one is particularly delicious. Brava!

  59. I want to see the asshole-macing, moving-to-Alaska movie.

  60. cypress.typepad.com

    antelope – To which canadian place are you headed? Have you applied for permanent resident’s status? I am also a canadian – living on the left coast, in cottage country outside vancouver.

    My spouse and I have some considerable experience with Immigration related matters that may or may not be useful for you, but in any event I’m glad to provide some of that info if you like.

    http://www.canadianalternative.com/ is a good web sourse of information,useful links. .

    Have a look at http://www.thetyee.ca which is an on line, progressive newspaper, with some very good writers. Check out Murray Dobbin’s columns on that site for a good sense of what some Canadians think about economic and social matters. We have different kinds of conservatives/Conservatives here too and Rafe Mair writes for thetyee and has interesting things to say. Wikipedia references that might be helpful, leading to other Canadians: Michelle Landsberg, journalist; Stephen Lewis [her husband] simply amazing man who has been the UN’s Envoy to Africa on HIV/AIDS; Naomi Klein [who is their daughter in law married to Avi Lewis] who wrote “No Logo” about the privatization/branding of public space.

    For fiction – find yourself a copy of Timothy Findley’s The Wars, about World War I. He’s a wonderful writer [unfortunately deceased], and his ‘Famous Last Words’ is about fascism and WWII. Margaret Laurence – all of her books. Margaret Atwood, too. There are good mystery writers who present a picture of Canada as well, if you are interested in that genre.

    I could go on and on, and have at least gone on sufficiently, or for long enough.

    Be well.

  61. I’ll second the recommendation of “The Wars”. Had to read that for a Highschool English class – I loved it. I guess it’s a testament to how much different Canadian schools and American schools are that not a single parent in my year complained about the 4-page long gay rape scene.

  62. I asked one of my favourite writers what she recommends for you antelope, and others wanting to understand Canada better. Heather Mallick (see link) sent me this list. I wonder at how she stopped. She’s been a book editor for the Toronto Star and a regular columnist at the Globe and Mail. If I was to pick famous Canadians with whom I’d want to have dinner, she’d be first. I may have something to add to this when I have more time. I’m excited to see Arianna and Cypress ring in. Salut mes amis!

    Heather Mallick’s archived columns on http://www.rabble.ca (which is also the lefty e-zine I recommend–it has a forum on feminism surf around). The real url for Heather’s columns in archive is too ridiculously long:


    1. Anything by Alice Munro. I see Munro as Anne Tyler in short story form,
    but with a sharper edge.
    2. Anything by Atwood, but her Selected Poems, short story collection
    Wilderness Tips and Bluebeard’s Egg are my favourites.
    3. Bear by Marian Engel is a classic, a woman alone at a cottage having sex
    with a bear. Extraordinary.
    4. Unless by Carol Shields, her finest book perhaps.
    5. Charlotte & Claudia Keeping in Touch by Joan Barfoot. She’s wonderful;
    this one is her funniest.
    6. If they want a sort of spiritual understanding of the Canadian landscape,
    try The Perfection of the Morning: An Apprenticeship in Nature by Sharon
    Butala. I tend not to like things like that, and I was entranced by it.
    7. Highways & Dancehalls by Diana Atkinson is a brilliant novel about a
    stripper. Hope it’s still in print. Came out in the Nineties. Highly
    8. Anything by Rohinton Mistry.
    9. I liked the graphic novel/memoir Dragonslippers by Rosalind B. Penfold,
    about wife-beating.
    10. Doug Coupland’s City of Glass, and my favourite Shampoo Planet. I think
    they’d really like this last one.


  63. No. I did not like The Wars. Yes, probably required reading. I logged on to say no I don’t know why Heather’s columns are duplicated in the Rabble.ca link.

    I plan to read Joseph Boyden. Soon.

    Everyone’s raving about Mirian Toews new book A Complicated Kindness

    I like Aritha van Herk:
    From critical analyses of her work in:
    “The essay by Suárez {…} links feminist criticism, psychoanalysis, and class analysis to illuminate the ways a number of van Herk’s uncollected stories ‘explore the connections between work and desire,’ particularly as work relates to family and gender.”

  64. I am going to put my little dagger between my teeth and climb up the ladder of comments and cut out “monkey ape” and “minstrel act” from this thread. Then, like Errol Flynn in Captain Blood, I’ll slide back down the thread to my comment box, tie those phrases to an arrow, set it on fire and shoot it far far away.

    Yrs, B. Dagger Lee, a.k.a. “Captain Blood”

  65. Ugh, Pony, I can’t live up to that list with anything I’ve read! No fair consulting a professional :P

    This list comes with the qualifier that I’m only 21, and only 2.5 courses into my English degree, and haven’t taken Canadian Literature above the highschool level yet. I’m also going to avoid listing anything that Pony already listed, as the purpose of this exercise seems to be variety. Appologies if this list turns out male-dominated, but Pony already took my favourite female writers.

    1. Robertson Davies. Most people I’ve encountered think he’s a snotty, pretentious, Toronto-centric know-it-all, but I like him, and I’ve only been to Toronto twice. Most people who like him tend to favour his Deptford Trilogy, with an emphasis on Fifth Business [the first book of the Triology], but I prefer The Cornish Triology, with emphasis on What’s Bred in the Bone [second book].

    2. Joy Kogawa – Obasan. I read this for an English class and loved it. It’s a little dry at first, but I remember being really moved when I read it, especially because I’d never learned about the history of the Japanese Internment Camps in Canada before I read it. It’s also interesting reading as a perspective on immigrant identity in a Canadian context.

    3. Will & Ian Ferguson – How to be a Canadian. This might not actually be as funny if you aren’t Canadian. I suggest it as a means of getting acquainted with the Canadian sense of humour, which tends to be rather self-deprecating. In that vein, see if you can find some way to watch Rick Mercer. He’s our Jon Stewart.

    4. If you want nonfiction, particularly Canadian History, read anything Pierre Burton has ever written, ever. I especially loved his treatment of the Great Depression, in the obviously titled, The Great Depression.

    I’ve been staring at this page for way too long trying to think of more to add, so I’m going to post now and just add more as I think of it.

  66. Oh! I just realised Pony actually didn’t have Timothy Findley on her list. Seconding Cypress again that The Wars is highly recommended. Not Wanted on the Voyage is a really excellent novel of his, a take on the Noah and the Ark story that is um, rather disturbing, to say the least. There’s a rather triggery scene, if that’s a concern. I’m never going to be able to scrub the unicorn scene out of my head, for any of you who’ve read it.

  67. suziehulahoop.blogspot.com

    Have you seen the movie “A History of Violence”? There is a truly disturbing anger/sex/rape scene that I think one is supposed to laugh off as a part of the couple’s “healthy sex life”. I too think she should have kneed him in the balls and moved to Alaska.

  68. Twisty

    Hello! Yay for Canada and all, and it’s great to find out that Canadians have actually written some books, but today’s topic is actually misogynist narratives in American pop music.

  69. Mad props to your mad pop analysis. (I can’t believe I’m the first to say that. Just color me obvious.)

  70. I don’t listen to misogynistic pop music, American or any other. So what I did was turn my back on it as protest. I dismiss it in its entirety. How much more diss could you get?
    Yes. Ok. We’ll have to meet somewhere else, Canucks and wannabe Canucks.

  71. Ok as antidote to MPM, I am now listening to Joan Baez. New. Wow. She hasn’t lost anything.

  72. tigtogblog.blogspot.com

    Personally, I follow the example of Sybil Fawlty when dealing with men who are titillated by female anger, and always have an umbrella handy.

    [Sybil is berating Basil about hiring shiftless builder O’Reilly instead of reliable builder Stubbs. O’Reilly is watching her display of temper with a big grin.]
    Sybil: And what are you so happy about?
    O’Reilly: Oh, I like a woman with spirit, Mrs Fawlty
    Basil [covers face with palm and whimpers softly]: Oh don’t say that.
    O’Reilly: I do like a woman with spirit!
    Sybil: You do, do you?
    O’Reilly: I do, I do, I do.
    [Basil cringes expectantly in background. Sybil starts hitting O’Reilly with the umbrella, her thwacks punctuating the next lines. He stops grinning.]
    Sybil: Well smile then! Aren’t you enjoying this?
    [O’Reilly looks to Basil for help. Basil avoids his gaze. O’Reilly starts to halfheartedly beg for her to stop.]
    Sybil: C’mon then! Smile!
    [Sybil stops hitting Mr O’Reilly with her umbrella. He lies crumpled defensively]
    Sybil: O’Reilly, I have seen more intelligent creatures than you lying on their backs at the bottoms of ponds. I have seen better organized creatures than you running round farmyards with their heads cut off. Now collect your things and get out. I never want to see you or any of your men in my hotel again.

    Unfortunately, Sybil never ran off with her friend Audrey to set up in business together. A pity.

  73. Sorry Twisty :(. I also don’t listen to misogynist pop music, American or other. Hell, I don’t listen to pop music, regardless.

    If anyone wants to continue the Can/Am Lit/immigration discussion, we can pop over to a blog I’ve left empty for a while and just stuck an open thread on canuckfem.blogspot.com. I’m always meaning to bother blogging, and then I just don’t get around to it. I just spend all my time commenting on other people’s blogs :P

  74. At the risk of further Canadian drift to the comments here, I’d like to correct something that cypress wrote in her second post above: Naomi Klein, who wrote NO LOGO, is the daughter of Bonnie Klein, who made the anti-porn film NOT A LOVE STORY, and Michael Klein who arrived in Canada as a Viet Nam resister and is a member of Physicians for Social Resposibility (from wikipedia).

    This is the virgin post of a new blog reader who has been lurking here for a couple of months. I love IBTP – thanks, Twisty, for the mental stimulation, the laughs and the opportunity to give my head a shake every day. It is sanity restoration for this feminist after a long dry spell.

  75. bigbalagan.typepad.com

    Not only is an angry woman sexy to an angry man, but according to stellar journalism in the Washington Post, aggressively sexual (het) women are causing an epidemic of erectile dysfunction in college men.

    It seems that for a sizable number of young men, the fact that they can get sex whenever they want may have created a situation where, in fact, they’re unable to have sex. According to surveys, young women are now as likely as young men to have sex and by countless reports are also as likely to initiate sex, taking away from males the age-old, erotic power of the chase.

    “I know lots of girls for whom nothing is off limits,” says Helen Czapary, a junior at the University of Maryland. “The pressure on the guys is a huge deal.

    Ah, the age-old, erotic power of the chase, now so sadly reduced to a mere poke into a bottle of Bud Lite.

    Adam Skrodzki, a tall, redheaded senior at the University of Maryland, bench-presses a respectable 280 pounds. He fights fires in Howard County as a volunteer and plans to join the Secret Service in the fall. In short, he’s a man’s man.

    Or so he thought until last fall, when he hooked up with a sophomore — at her urging.

    The girl really wanted to make a go of it with him. On learning earlier that he had no interest in pursuing a relationship, she had offered to be his “friend with benefits,” and he had agreed. In his mind, that decision was a no-brainer.

    But on this night, their first in bed, his body was telling him something else. She used every trick she knew, with no success. Adam panicked.

    So I guess when we can’t get it up in a situation where, large, football-player-and-Secret-Service-like, we don’t feel connected (“felt no interest in pursuing a relationship”), female anger is perhaps a substitute for affection in calling forth the male erection, denied as it is the age-old, erotic power of the chase.

    The article at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/06/AR2006050601206.html is so self-revealingly stupid on so many levels.

  76. Not A Love Story: now that is one sensational feminist look at the porn industry. It’s not new. But what exactly has changed there?

  77. justbetweenstrangers.blogspot.com

    I dunno — how tuned into street lingo are you? are you sure that “blow her out” refers to ejaculation, or could it refer to the equivalent of a “blow job” (mmmmmmeaning quite the converse)?

  78. Twisty

    I don’t know about your part of the world, acm, but where I’m from, the kind of girl who gets a blow job isn’t actually a girl.

  79. Read this exciting info from Ne-Yo today:
    “You can go to the strip every night and find Becky and her 9 friends from Wisconsin and do whatever the hell, crazy, wild, freaky sex thing you want to do to them.” — Rapper Ne-Yo Talking About His Sexploits With Fans
    A young man after my own heart. Or um, panties, I guess.

  80. Can I look forward to a continuation of this dissecting-Patriarchal-pop-songs? If so, I have a number of recommendations. Among them: “Shake That” by Eminem and Nate Dogg. How can you not like a song with lyrics like “I’m lookin for a girl that will do whatever the fuck I say, everyday she be givin it up,” “I want a bitch that sit at the crib with no panties on,
    knows that she can’t but she won’t say no” and also references fellatio and date rape?

    (Complete Lyrics: http://www.elyricsworld.com/go/e/Eminem-lyrics/Shake-That-lyrics.html)

    As a side note, why is Eminem following up a song called “Shake That” with a song called “Smack That”? I can think of a couple reasons, and none of them are “creativity.”

  1. Liberal Serving

    “Meat Fetish Pie… half an inch of Maybelline”…

    I hope Twisty’s not wrong:[If I’m wrong,] I’ll eat a Homophobe Meat Fetish Pie at TGI Friday’s and afterward attend a special Terri Schiavo service at a Baptist megachurch. Which would be quite a hardship for me, because they station…

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