Friday, March 23, 2018

Women: The Ideal Woman

Adrian Belew: The Ideal Woman

To some extent, this is a tricky theme for a blog that currently appears to have only male writers. In light of years of feminists correctly clamoring to end objectification of women, and in the immediate post #MeToo era, stuff that we used to take for granted is, properly, subject to stricter scrutiny. These days, what one says, or does, to or with or about a woman could be damaging, and for the most part, I have to say, the additional care and thought is a good thing. Of course, if you can pay for a nondisclosure agreement, you can get away with misbehavior.


So, after nearly two weeks of scanning my library for a theme-appropriate song, why did I finally land on Adrian Belew’s “The Ideal Woman,” a song that is clearly an objectification of women? Part of it, of course, is that the song is from 1983, which doesn’t sound like it was so long ago, but both of my kids are now older than I was in that year, so maybe it was a long time ago. And because times have changed significantly since then, although there’s still all sorts of misogyny and objectification in the music world. Part of it, too, is that I really like Adrian Belew, having written about his solo work, his time with King Crimson and his work with Talking Heads. (Although I’ve sort of lost track of his career in recent years.) In addition to his music, I think he also has a sense of humor, and it seems like this song is more than a little tongue in cheek.

I have to believe that all of us have some idea of what an ideal partner would be. It was not too long ago that I would have written that sentence using the phrase “opposite sex,” but you can’t have Smithies in your family, or spend as much time at the Athena Film Festival as I have, without learning that the phrase is really useless. Maybe you’re not as specific in your specifications as Belew is in the song, and even he gives himself some leeway, at least with height—he waffles between 5’6,” 5’8” and 5’9”—and there are some contradictions—he wants a woman both independent and controllable, whatever that means. But definitely blonde. As someone whose ideal woman is many of these things (including beautiful, independent and blonde, but not all of them--she's 5'10"), maybe that’s what drew me to the song.

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