So as we know I’m doing a PhD in Music, in the area of Theomusicology & Feminist Musicology and some other things, with a practical element to it. So one of the things I’m looking at is how women and sex is represented in music as my project is interested in sexual politics (in a metaphorical sense) but in a literal sense sexual politics is also about sex. In response to my findings I’m going to produce some songs on the topic. The practical portfolio will have songs on various topics relating to women and music and theology. It will make sense when you read my thesis. Here’s a paraphrased summary of what I’ve learned, the full academic essay will come later.
I chose the topic of marital sex as a context for my section on women, music and sex. My intended outcomes for this song are to present women/wives as strong, mutual/equal with men/husbands, sensual/emotional beings that enjoy sex and have their own opinions and sex drives and sexual desires that are just as important as the man’s within the context of marital sex. Furthermore, as I am a woman of colour, I am writing from the perspective of a woman of colour and I hope that my piece along with the values therein, will address the negative stereotypes about women of colour that perpetuate within Western contemporary songs about sex. In Western popular songs about sex, women of colour are usually represented in the most abased and course way. Furthermore, songwriters have an irritating habit if sexualizing the ways in which women of colour are often discriminated against, race, gender and class, by presenting them as the hot abused poor baby mamas *rolls eyes*, or one night stands, never anything good etc. Instead I, have written and performed a song, from the perspective of a woman of colour about being in a sexual relationship within the socio-economic status and security of being a wife, the lyrics talk about saying “I do” and rings etc. (you don’t have to be some guys baby mama, why are we always shown as the baby mama and not the wife?) and not a victim in sexual activity but a willing, consensual, active and committed participant. (N.B. I am not and have never been married this is just in the fictional narrative of the song).
As mentioned earlier, this song is about the joys of marital sex, as experienced by two fictional newly-weds. It follows the metaphor, imagery and form of ‘Song of Songs’ which is also called Song of Solomon, my favourite book of the Bible, (talking about gardens, fragrant spices, greenery, little foxes, having sex outside, it’s all in Song of Songs lol). Song of Songs is actually about the love between a dark skinned woman and King Solomon.
Song of Solomon 1:5 [NLT]
I am dark but beautiful, O women of Jerusalem- dark as the tents of Kedar, dark as the curtains of Solomon’s tents.
It also represents a counter-cultural approach to romantic relationships between men and women, as it is in fact the woman who pursues the man. I tried to reflect this in arranging it for a female singer and making the tone of the lyrics, that of someone who is a pursuer and initiator of physical intimacy. I also show the woman as initiator as well as mutual consenting participant, instead of a passive participant or victim. The lead vocal (the woman/bride) vocalises decisions about her own sexual desires and needs. You can find the woman in Song of Songs doing the same thing. The theomusicology comes in the narrative of the lyrics which implies that now they’re married they can have sex when and wherever they want to lol (within reason), which is a Christian theological standpoint (I’m a Christian btw). So it implies restraint and commitment before coitus, not after.
I also decided to make it walking pace because I found that most songs about sex and women, especially sex with or about or by women of colour, have quite a strong beat and lyrically emphasise the fun of sex with chauvinistic, misogynoir lyrics that often contextualise the woman and the act within the erotic, encouraging male brains to switch to autopilot, focussing entirely on the physicality and pleasure of sex, not the love. My piece is a response to these negative things I found. It is slow(ish) to be meditative, slow down the heart rate and give the listener space to clear their minds and think. The listener should not get carried away by eroticism but instead wrapped up in the sweetness, sensuality, thoughtfulness and intentional nature of the act of marital sex. Looking forward to adding this to the the final portfolio! So this is a sonic, feminist, womanist critique of pop music about women and sex, using the lived experience of a woman of colour as an analytical tool for reflection. I am trying to promote the knowledge of women by uncovering the lost narratives of our experience, like a Foucauldian genealogy.
Well done for reading, here’s the track! It’s called “I Hope The Neighbours Don’t See”
You can also listen on SoundCloud. Follow this link to play or play the embedded player below:
I have a playlist on YouTube. Follow this link to play or play in the embedded player below:
The Middle 8/Bridge is inspired by a conversation I had with a middle aged man who told me that when he first got married as a young man, he gave his wife a Hickey on her neck and someone from his church saw it and told him, “now you’re married you can do that where it don’t show” hah! lol
Lots of love