Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A Sociologist Examines Life in the 1960s Based on Beatles Lyrics

You're going to lose that girl,
You're going to lose that girl.

In the 1960s, women were possessions of men. This doesn't mean they weren't valued, as these two lines imply: men don't warn other men about the potential loss of a wad of lint or a corncob. "Hey, buddy," no male would ever say, "you better drive slower or you're gonna lose that clump of bird shit on your roof."

If you don't take her out tonight,
She's going to change her mind.

These two lines give us a hint as to the root of the problematic female treatment. The female is above all fickle: despite an established, long-standing relationship, if her man disappears for an hour or two she's got her thumb out by the side of the road. Since loyalty is a trait identifiable with more developed species, this pinpoints the female's position on a societal scale to just above that of a cat, since a cat would share the sentiment but not be able to mouth the words, "You're not gonna feed me? Then, buddy, I'm gonna find somebody who will."

And I will take her out tonight,
And I will treat her kind.

One can easily recognize the objectified woman in these two lines, since there is no parallel in male-dominated societies. If Google wanted to steal a valued male employee from Apple, for instance, they wouldn't threaten to take him rollerskating in their daddy's Mustang. The male requires a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract to switch allegiance while the female is settling for less. "Raisinettes and a Sprite?" she chirps. "Okay, buddy -- I'll go home and pack right now."

I'll make a point
Of taking her away from you, yeah,
The way you treat her what else can I do?

Even the most clueless reader must sense the unreliability of the narrator here. On the surface he's expressing unselfishness with this offer to help the beleaguered female, but if he felt even the slightest bit of empathy this song would be about bringing sausages to Darfur. Competitiveness rather than altruism is the motivating factor for action here.

If you don't treat her right, my friend,
You're going to find her gone,

Female as object is reiterated here, though her value is again unspecified. Perhaps losing a woman is like losing your car keys, with both cases leaving the hapless male frantically checking his pockets. But perhaps it's more like a preoccupied male spotting an empty space on a bedroom shelf and realizing he hasn't seen his Kylo Ren action figure in something like six weeks.

Cause I will treat her right, and then
You'll be the lonely one.

In the end, it's the lack of female volition that is most troubling in this work. We're left with the idea that male action alone is what prompts female fidelity. She can stay or she can go, but otherwise her opinion doesn't matter. It may seem smug to congratulate ourselves on living in a more enlightened time, but if this song were written today it would certainly include a discussion of the male's qualifications, perhaps with a couplet like this:

If you don't treat her right, my friend,
Then she might mobilize,
Cause I have got a job, and then
there is my penis size.

1 comment:

Yet Another Steve said...

An excellent and scholarly approach to the tunes of the '60s! I'm sharing that puppy on Facebook.

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