THE BLOG
04/17/2012 03:45 pm ET Updated Jun 17, 2012

How Women Accept Offensive Songs

Since I went to a high school with more than two-thirds girls and now attend a school with a vast majority of women, I have had many opportunities to get answers to this question: "How can you stand to listen to songs that reduce your entire gender to bitches or hoes?" I was always shocked to see women grooving along to songs that attack their gender whether it was "The Whisper Song" or "Pussy Crook." (These aren't even the worst ones.) After sorting through many responses, I managed to reduce the data to three common justifications and attitudes that women seem to hold towards these offensive songs.

The first attitude supports Festinger's Theory of Social Comparison, which states, in part, that people make downward comparisons in order to boost their self-esteem. I believe these downward comparisons can be made to fictional characters such as prototypical "hoes" or "bitches" featured in songs in addition to actual people. Many of the women I have informally interviewed have said something akin to: "I'm not a bitch. I'm not a hoe. They're not talking about me so it doesn't really matter what they say." It seems to be even easier to look down and detach oneself from members of the same category if the other members are not named and even dehumanized in a song.

The second attitude is similar to the attitude people hold when they are the butt of a particularly cruel joke. If you attack the person who is making a joke about you, it often acts as a reward for their efforts and encourages them to continue. Sometimes attacking the person who makes the joke even gives them new material and continues the vicious cycle. It is even more difficult if other members of your category, your friends, or even just your peers are enjoying the joke. This creates a social pressure to just let it slide so your discomfort doesn't ruin their fun. "It's just not worth making a fuss over. What they say doesn't really affect me unless I let it," is another response I have heard frequently.

The last perspective is perhaps the most simple and candid of the three. "I know it's offensive and attacks my gender but I just like how it sounds enough to tolerate it." This answer surprised me the most. I actually talked to a particularly intelligent female friend of mine today who said, "Sometimes I won't really even process the lyrics. They'll go in one ear and out the other and I'll just groove on the beat and backings. There's something about the way the lyrics are spoken too that sounds good even if the content is offensive." I'm not a big rap or hip-hop fan but this response resonated with me the most since I realized that my cognitive ability to recall a hip-hop or rap song often depends on how catchy and well-written the instrumental backings were rather than how salient the lyrics were. When it comes to lyrics in these kinds of songs, I honestly can't remember much other than the chorus (if that) even if it's a song I love and do not view as offensive such as "Dear Mama" by 2pac.

I wonder if the existence of these offensive songs is really even a problem that needs solving though. I wanted to offer an understanding of why women accept these songs but I won't go so far as to tell them whether or not they should do anything about these commonly accepted attacks on their gender. It is their choice. The argument I am making also applies to any number of songs and categories/groups (race, religion, nationality, etc.). If you are on the fence though, I suggest listening to "Slob On My Knob." Perhaps you will change your mind then.

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