I’ve named this blog after the Madonna song “What It Feels Like For A Girl”. It’s one of my favorite songs of all time, with it’s awesome ethereal and funky Guy Sigsworth production. His work with Imogen Heap in Frou Frou is also great.
The song starts with words written by Ian McEwan, spoken by Charlotte Gainsbourg from the film version of McEwan’s The Cement Garden:
“Girls can wear jeans and cut their hair short and wear shirts and boots because it’s okay to be a boy; for girls it’s like promotion. But for a boy to look like a girl is degrading, according to you, because secretly you believe that being a girl is degrading.”
I’d listened to those lines dozens of times over the years, and always in the back of my mind I was thinking, “interesting, but mostly bullshit.” Madonna’s lyrics too, while I appreciated that yeah it probably was difficult being a young girl, I kind of thought it was bullshit that Madonna was the one telling me this. Why was it that I as a man was expected to feel sorry for a sexy and confident woman (Madonna) who had access to all the varieties of relationship experiences in life that I did not? Moreover, why was her pain and vulnerability an empowering social movement and mine was not?
I’ve changed my mind about that. I understand that my experiences with troubles don’t negate messages like the one in this song, which is trying to put across a truth about our culture as a whole. I don’t have to take it personally. And in fact there’s a lot I could and have learned from it, because like it or not it’s still about me and the way I relate to women. It’s still something I needed to hear.
So I’ve got two goals here. I want to try to help women understand what it really does feel like for boys and men in this world, for any who want to listen. I already know that a lot don’t want to. But I also want to trick some men who might come here looking to indulge in a whinge-fest into taking the ideas of feminism seriously. I definitely know a lot of them don’t want to.
Complaints are annoying, especially when they’re aimed at us. But there is often truth contained in them. If we, men and women both, can remove our ego from the situation, we might just learn something by listening.