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Sons and Daughters

September 19th, 2006 (03:41 pm)

current mood: angry


I was listening to the radio, listening to John Mayer's song "daughters".  He's got a nice mellow voice - he's the James Taylor of his generation.  And the song sounds sweet at first.   Here's this young man, he's met a girl who has put the colour inside his world.   But she's complicated, you see - and no matter how vulnerable he thinks he's making himself, she just won't fall for him.  And now he's realizing maybe it doesn't have anything to do with him at all.  Then we move to the chorus:
Fathers be good to your daughters,
Daughters will love like you do.
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers, 
So mothers be good to your daughters too.

Ok - so you may be assuming that I'm going to take umbrage with the concept that girls become lovers who turn into mothers - but no.  I can get past the barely veiled suggestion that women are defined only by what they are to other people, especially men (their lovers, and the mothers of their children).

No - instead I'll take you past the chorus to the next bit:
Boys you can break;
You'll find out how much they can take.
Boys will be strong.
Boys soldier on.
But boys would be gone without the warmth 
From a woman's good, good heart.

What???  Why does this attitude persist?  Why is it sung about in sweet love songs to twelve-year-old girls so that the myth can be perpetuated?

Just last week, a young man
shot a bunch of students at a college in Montreal, killing one woman (the same city where another young gunman shot and killed fourteen young women in a school years before).  Every day violent men abuse their wives or their children.  This is the kind of thing that happens when boys "soldier on".  

Sure, Mayer's world would be improved if fathers treated their daughters well, because then he'd have a better chance of getting laid by the girl who colours his world.  But the rest of the world would be better off if we were all good to both our sons and daughters.  Maybe the sons especially, since it seems that when they break, they can take a bunch of people with them in a hail of gunfire.  

And as for "but boys would be gone without the warmth from a woman's good, good heart" - why is it always up to us to save the world?

For the record - I'm not saying all the violence in the world is caused by men.  I'm not saying violent men are created because their parents didn't treat them well.  What I am saying is the song perpetuates the myth that boys can "take it" - whatever "it" might be at the time.  And the truth is, they can't - nor should it be ok to put it to the test.