Some love songs are supposed to make a woman feel all empowered and strong. But there are many that just make me feel the opposite. Instead, they seem to suggest that a woman can, and should, put up with anything from a man, even emotional, and possibly physical, abuse. Here are a couple of examples from the 60s, still held up as some kind of Love Anthems because iconic women recorded them.
When You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me was released by Dusty Springfield in the 60s, women and girls embraced the song, believing it showed a 60s female could be as emotionally ‘cool’ as any man in the era of free, unconditional sex. But the opening lines gave it away.
When I said I needed you
You said you would always stay
It wasn’t me who changed but you and now you’ve gone away
Don’t you see that now you’ve gone
And I’m left here on my own
That I have to follow you and beg you to come home
Barefoot over rough and rocky roads, of course – is there nothing a woman won’t do for her man? This was just the same doormat woman who let a man walk all over her then walk away so she could crawl after him. Another line sealed the deal – You don’t have to stay forever I will understand.” Of course she will, that”s what women do, right? Apart from the crawling after them bit. No wonder women decided to get serious about liberation in the next decade.
Then there is Take Another Little Piece of My Heart, which just about everyone recorded, including Janis Joplin. Faith Hill, and even Pink… must be harmless if they sang it, right? One of the lines in the lyric is “I’ll show you a woman can be tough.” Really? Did any of the women who sang this song ever really listen to it? All of them were actually inviting a boyfriend to inflict more emotional, and possibly even physical, damage on her. Uh uh. That’s not how a tough woman acts. When the going gets tough, the tough get going – out the door. A tough woman stands up for herself, and doesn’t beg a man to abuse her more so he won’t leave.
Even men have recorded it, and deal with the ‘tough woman’ line by singing something like “I can be tough” which is a bit ridiculous. It is always described as a ‘romantic’ lyric and its self-abusing tone is down to two male songwriters, Jerry Ragovoy and Bert Berns, who probably thought they were paying women some sort of musical compliment.
Listen carefully to those song lyrics, ladies. They fooled us, they can fool you too.