Popular Culture

Stop Apologizing For Your “Girly” Music

Laurence Vagner/Flickr

Laurence Vagner/Flickr

Sexism imposed on women by men is pretty vile, but even more depressing is the internalized misogyny we women sometimes come out with. You know the kind. “I run like a girl,” or “I’m being such a girl about this,” or the absolute worst of all, that classic defense for why you couldn’t do something: “Hey, I’m a girl!”

Stop it. OK? Let’s all just stop it. And let’s start by stamping out one tiny thing I hear women do all the time: let’s stop apologizing to guys for playing our “girly” music.

Firstly, what even is “girly” music? Is our music automatically “girly” because we’re playing it and our “girliness” is rubbing off on it? Is this like the Midas Touch but with pink nail polish on? Does everything we touch turn to girl? Whoops, my bad. If that’s the case, feel free to pass me your Lil Jon CD because I wouldn’t mind never listening to you play that again.



Is it all music sung by successful women? Because last time I checked, nobody was calling Kanye West’s music “manly” and apologizing for playing it in front of women. Talent isn’t gender-specific. A good set of lungs and some mad guitar skills are just as impressive whoever is sporting them—and men’s ears are just as well placed as girls’ to appreciate that Miley Cyrus can belt out “Jolene” with the best of ‘em. (She can belt it out much better, in fact.)

Is it because women only sing about women’s things and men can’t relate? Of course, that must be it. Men never fall in love, or go through heartbreak, or go to parties, or dance, or any of that stuff women insist on singing about.

If songs being sung by women is really what makes them “girly,” then this is particularly dangerous. Repeat after me: I will never apologize for supporting another woman’s success. Got it?

Fierce gifs/Tumblr

Fierce gifs/Tumblr

But hang on—One Direction and Michael Bublé aren’t women, and you definitely need to shout out a “Trigger Warning: Girly Music” before subjecting any men in the vicinity to any of their songs. Is it because they’re singing about women? Because I don’t see any objection to artists rapping about “bitches” and describing in violent detail what they will do to women in bed, with or without their consent (but it’s all “blurred lines” in that area, right?). Apparently it’s only if you sing about women without actively insulting them that it becomes totally “girly.”

And I wouldn’t apologize too hard for giving the One Direction boys any airtime: they may be singing to women, but they’re hardly taking down the patriarchy. Their “romantic” tunes generally revolve around “winning over” women, a bit of subtle negging, and praising girls for being unguarded and passive. “What Makes You Beautiful” is not exactly the anthem of female confidence it’s held up to be; that song is pretty firmly entrenched in the concept of the male gaze. This is singing about women from a definitively male point of view; if anything, your guy friends should be thanking you for introducing them to such a helpful Guide to Picking Up Insecure Women.



Basically, women have to apologize for playing anything about girls, by girls, or with the word girl anywhere in it — even though most of that music still caters pretty exclusively to our male-dominated world. We have to sneak away and put in headphones to listen to our offensively “girly” music — even if it’s just to listen to Taylor Swift teach us how to be the woman that men want us to be. (Just to be clear, Taylor Swift is a goddess. I will never apologize for how many times I’ve listened to 1989 on repeat.)

So let’s all just stop. Let’s stop calling music “girly” that has nothing to do with the femininity we actually feel. Let’s stop being embarrassed that we prefer hearing Bublé compliment us than Robin Thicke degrade us. And if you ever do find that rare piece of music that really is by women and for women and about women — don’t you dare apologize for it.

Emma Oulton
Emma has more books than friends, and is perfectly happy with that arrangement. After gaining her English degree, she moved to London with a husband and a dog called Hippo, and now lives in a house so filled with mismatching rugs that everyone calls it The Haberdashery. Emma works in publishing, and live-tweets her life from @ee_ohbee.

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