And that's bad enough. But I also saw--to my disgust--women (on both sides of this debate) blaming other women for the deaths of their own children. Women who support hospital births were mocking women who lost their babies in home births. Women who support home births were mocking women who lost babies in hospital births. I have no words for that.
As is my post-modernist wont, I tried to understand this phenomenon by piecing together some disparate texts. In what other contexts are women tearing each other down instead of finding the common ground?
The first text I thought of was Nicky Minaj's "Stupid Hoe" (warning, in addition to having some pretty awful and divisive lyrics, this video is also pretty aesthetically awful (in my opinion) and the song is way more catchy than it has any right to be).
The premise of the song is a series of disses, and I feel like this line pretty much sums up the tone:
Bitch talkin' she the queen when she lookin' like a lab rat/I'm Angelina, you Jennifer/Come on, bitch. You see where Brad atAnd that's the intersection I want to examine: how do we construct narratives about women competing over a man? How do women in these confrontations interact with one another? What does popular culture tell us about the way we "should" interact with one another? And what do these messages mean for women's ability to interact in other contexts?
As I started digging deeper into this question, I found out that I had a lot of material to deal with. I've decided to look at songs about love triangles and analyze them for messages in the way women interact. I've got three different topics to cover, and I'm going to break them up into three separate posts (linked below).
- Direct Competition- Some songs demonstrate women in direct competition. Both of the women get a voice within the song itself, and each woman demonstrates her own particular perspective on the situation, which both demonstrates the complexity of human relationships and prods the listener to take a side. Representative songs from this mold are "Does He Love You?" by Reba McIntire and Linda Davis, "The Boy is Mine" by Brandy and Monica, and "The Best Woman Wins" by Dolly Parton and Lorrie Morgan.
- Offensive Threat- Some songs demonstrate women who are actively pursuing other women's boyfriends/husbands. They have the sole voice in the song and often belittle or otherwise marginalize the woman who they aim to take the man from. Sometimes, these women don't even talk directly to their competitors, but to the man they aim to take. Representative songs include "Girlfriend" by Avril Lavigne, "Don't Cha" by the Pussycat Dolls, and "If That's Your Boyfriend (He Wasn't Last Night)" by Me'shell Ndegeocello
- Defensive Threat- Of course, the flip side to the offensive threat is the defensive threat. We also have women who use songs to defend their position and "ownership" of the man in question. These women are often angry, threatening, and ready to fight for their men. Representatives include "Jane Doe" by Alicia Keys, "You Ain't Woman Enough (To Take my Man)" by Loretta Lynn, and "The Earrings Song" by Gretchen Wilson.
Are we conditioned to tear each other down? Is competition over men a metaphor for competition over other things? If so, can competition be a good thing? How do we find common ground?