S&M and Women in Music

I’m a Top 40 girl, always have been. I lived for those noon-hour sock-hops in high school, and still, I love to dance the night away.

Music played an enormous part in my emotional & social development. Despite the “no boyfriends, no makeup, no parties” rules my Tiger parents enforced, being able to discuss the deeper meanings of Madonna’s Papa Don’t Preach or Whitney Houston’s Saving All My Love For You, showed the cooler kids that there was more to me than my flute. In Grade 9, I would spend hours with my ear cocked to my favourite station (CKLG 73), index and middle fingers poised over the PLAY and RECORD buttons on my AM/FM/Cassette player, ready to launch into action should Madonna’s Borderline hit the airwaves. And if I was really in the groove, I would record it perfectly, without any of that inane DJ jabber. I would try to dress like Madonna in her Lucky Star video, carefully so not to draw my parents’ ire and argue with my sisters about which one of us would get to marry John Taylor of Duran Duran. I spent countless hours playing my tapes back and forth, meticulously deciphering the lyrics so that I could sing them gleefully while dancing. Music was my happy place.

Now that I’m much, much older, music still moves me. But there are some who would argue that my tastes haven’t matured in accordance with my age. My husband chides me for my so-called teeny-bopper taste in music. But I beg to difffer – Katy Perry, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Pink, Ke$ha – these ladies sing some of my favourite anthems! Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream has actually propelled me up the legendary Grouse Grind. Sometimes after a hard day of skiing, you will find me rocking out at Buffalo Bills, singing at the top of my lungs (without a microphone, thank goodness!)
You.make.me
Feel like I’m living a
Teen.age.dream
The way you turn me on
I.can’t.sleep
Let’s run away and don’t ever look back

Great music moves me and transforms me into a dancing dervish, and I love how that makes me feel. Better than Botox, anyday.

But now, there is an incredible new song that I love and frankly, I’m aghast. Rihanna’s new S&M song is great dance music. Even the lyrics, while jaw-dropping, showcase a powerful woman Betty Friedan would be proud of, but when Ri-Ri showed up at the Grammys in a sheer dress that showcased her butt crack, I had to begin to worry about the legions of not-yet women she is influencing.

Cause I may be bad, but I’m perfectly good at it
Sex in the air, I don’t care, I love the smell of it
Sticks and stones may break my bones,
But chains and whips excite me.

Oh, I love the feeling you bring to me
Oh, you turn me on
It’s exactly what I’ve been yearning for
Give it to me strong
And meet me in my boudoir
Give my body some AHH, AHH, AHHHH,
I like it, like it

While her 42 year old fans might be able to appreciate those powerful (and explicit!) words, I’m uncomfortable with the fact that her younger fans have Rihanna as a role model for what is womanhood. I grew up on Bananarama’s Cruel Summer and The Go-Go’s Our Lips are Sealed, and really, that wasn’t that long ago!

It could be argued that every generation has their controversial star(s), and the controversy only served to make them hotter. We had Madonna who wore a rosary while dancing in front of burning cross in Like A Virgin and my mom had Elvis Presley’s gyrating hips that were deemed too hot for television. Are the overtly sexual lyrics and outfits just part of Rihanna’s global marketing strategy? Or should we be more concerned about Rihanna’s ample assets negatively impacting girls’ self esteem as they go through their formative teenage years? And what does Rihanna and her fellow female artists teach boys about women and sexuality? Suddenly, music doesn’t seem so safe anymore.

I’ve switched to an easy-listening station while I muddle this one through. Although the Kings of Leon are probably talking about the same thing as Rihanna with Sex Is On Fire, at least they keep their pants on.
Love Lucie

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Lust, Love & Jellybeans

Oh how I love Modern Family! In the most recent episode (*SPOILER ALERT*), Claire and Phil (the mom and dad) are caught in a compromising position (doing it doggy-style) when the kids try to surprise them with an anniversary breakfast in bed.

Which got me to thinking, right after I got engaged to my husband, some idiot said to us, “Congratulations! Did you know that if you put a jellybean into a jar every time you have sex in the first year of your relationship, and take one jellybean out of the jar every time you have sex after the first year, you will die with jellybeans left in the jar?”

Rendered speechless of a witty comeback, we laughed him off nervously, wondering what kind of jerk would say that to a newly engaged couple? Suddenly, my engagement ring felt too tight and I was beginning to look at marriage as a 5-10 year investment. But mad (read: young and foolish) fools we were, we got married anyways. We were going to prove him wrong. It was easy to believe that we could in those days, we were like bunnies then, all it took was a french kiss to get us all hot and heavy. We did it twice daily, at least (!) and we did it everywhere – in the back seat of cars (sorry Dad!), on hikes in the great outdoors, in airport washrooms, in airplane washrooms, in darkened movie theatres, even while driving (sorry everyone!)

Fast forward 3 years and a baby later, we had a 9 month drought (3 pre- and 6 post-baby). After the baby, it took a lot more than a well-intentioned kiss to convince me to drop my drawers. A cesarian scar, the sad realization that my stretch marks were permanent, and the emotional funk that can sometimes accompany the metamorphosis from a woman to a mom, pushed sex right out of my mind. And I would have forgotten about the jellybean comment forever, except for the fact that a friend warned me that as a wife, I needed to give my husband “just a little more sex than he actually needs” to keep him from straying, jiggly belly be damned. But I was a reluctant lover, and beginning to wonder if that idiot was actually right.

Fast forward 5 years and 2 more babies, I quit my job to become a stay-at-home mom, trading my MBA and my consulting career for the good of our children. Making organic purees, organizing play dates, ensuring developmental milestones were met, updating their baby books with precious memories, took precedence over me, my husband and the sack. I’m sure those jellybeans were downright dusty by this point. I was too run down to conjure up a lustful response to a wishful poke in the night so I started to go to bed later and later, long after my early rising husband was sawing logs, too tired to care that he was probably dreaming about show girls. When my husband started to hang out more with his single office mates late into the night, I began to wonder if this was the beginning of the end. I asked my mom, the veteran of a 40+ year marriage, how she made it work with Dad with 5 kids (even though I thought they should have divorced at least twice). She said simply, I think, “your Dad always needed sex.” I say that I think she said this, because she was speaking in Korean at the time and I may have temporarily blanked out at the mental image of my almost 70 year old parents doing it, and doing it more often than me. I doubted that she’d ever heard about the jellybean statistic.

Fast forward to the summer of my 39th year. During a routine hysterectomy, I contracted e-coli unbeknownst to the doctors. For the next 8 days my blood brewed up a big batch of peritonitis, which can be fatal without prompt treatment. My husband and kids came home with a Slurpee for me and found me semi-conscious on the bathroom floor. Over the next 4 days at the hospital, I not only rid my body of the e-coli, but also my pregnancy pounds. Friends told me I looked fantastic, which is really very terrible to say to someone who nearly died, but it was true. Madonna, bless her 50 year old heart (and rock hard abs) inspired me to believe that with this little unintended head-start, I could bring sexy back (well, I guess I should thank Justin Timberlake also). I mean what was I saving my body for anyways? Definitely not for science. Both my husband and I started going to the gym, we got a personal trainer, joined numerous boot camps, ran a couple of half marathons, tried out a home delivery food service, and while my weight stayed (mostly) down, my libido went up, and the rest as they say, is history. As we find ourselves somewhere in our 18th year together, by my calculations, at our current pace we should empty that jellybean jar in about 5 more years. As I’m sure, will Phil and Claire.

That guy was obviously a ding dong. Here’s hoping we all enjoy a jelly bean tonight!

Love Lucie